Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort near completion on new lift, expansion projects
Both the 5-Chair upgrade and Bergman Bowl expansion project are expected to be completed in time for the 2023-24 winter season
Though Summit County has seen several balmy, end-of-summer days over the last week, the upcoming winter season is not far away. Soon the warm weeks will give way to fall days, and before long, snow will once again be seen on the slopes of the region’s ski areas.
In preparation for the quickly approaching 2023-24 ski and ride season, Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort have been keeping work moving over the summer, making sure the mountains are ready before lifts start turning again when the slopes are covered in snow.
Two of the major projects that have been taking place over the summer are the upgrade of Breckenridge’s 5-Chair and the development of Bergman Bowl at Keystone.
The Breckenridge Ski Resort ski operations team turned its focus to the upcoming 2023-24 ski and ride season by beginning construction on the upgrade of Peak 8’s 5-Chair practically the minute winter operations ceased at Breckenridge on May 21.
Much like last summer — when Breckenridge focused on upgrading Rip’s Ride from a two-seater to a quad-chair life — construction once again crowded the Peak 8 base area over the summer as crews worked on upgrading 5-Chair from a two-person lift to a high-speed quad.
Although the summer-long transformation of 5-Chair to Five SuperChair did play a role in Breckenridge’s summer operation plans, the upgrade is considered to be fundamental to the continual evolution of the resort’s busiest base area.
With the 5-Chair upgrade, all four of Peak 8’s chairlifts will be high-speed, which will drastically assist with flow and circulation from the peak’s base area. The upgraded lift is also expected to provide faster and easier access to the resort’s five peaks and will aid in the resort’s summer operations by serving the Alpine slide.
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Earlier this summer, Breckenridge made the first step toward completing the project with helicopters flying in concrete for the base of the Five SuperChair’s new lift towers.
Breckenridge continued to make progress on the project, and, late last week, the lower terminal of the Five SuperChair was put into place.
According to Breckenridge senior communications specialist Sara Lococo, the top terminal of the new Five SuperChair was installed on Wednesday, Aug. 23, and the resort has plans for a helicopter to be on site on Monday, Aug. 28, to install the new lift towers.
“Looking ahead, work still to come includes the completion of grading and dirt work, the installation of our carpet conveyor lifts for the learning area, some trenching and electrical work, the deconstruction of the former Breck Flyer zipline and then pulling the haul rope, hanging the new chairs on the line and load testing the lift,” Lococo said.
Breckenridge expects most of the remaining work to be completed by early October with the load test on the Five SuperChair taking place in early to mid-October.
Despite frequent rainstorms to start the summer season, the Five SuperChair project is currently on track and is expected to be revealed in November, dependent on weather and conditions.
Bergman Bowl expansion
Anyone who has been following Keystone’s Bergman Bowl expansion project knows that the 555 new acres of lift-serviced terrain has been the topic of scrutiny and speculation over the last calendar year.
The expansion — which will bring one new high-speed, six-passenger chair and 16 new trails — was slated to open up at the beginning of the 2022-23 winter season, but the project was brought to a halt by the U.S. Forest Service after unauthorized construction took place in a sensitive Alpine environment last summer.
Since the unapproved construction took place, Keystone Resort Vice President and General Manager Chris Sorensen and Vail Resorts have worked in tandem with the Forest Service to implement a substantive restoration plan that looks to save disturbed topsoil and collect plant seeds.
With a restoration plan in place, the Forest Service approved Keystone to resume construction, and the project quickly got back on track for a 2023-24 winter season opening.
The completion of the project will give skiers and riders access to both Bergman and Erickson bowls and will eliminate the prior hike to both areas of the mountain.
According to Keystone communications manager Max Winter, Keystone recently completed the installation of the Bergman Express bottom lift terminal and has already started work on installing the top terminal.
“We have also begun work on our top terminal, which sits at over 12,280 feet and will treat guests to 360-degree views of the county as they ski off the lift,” Winter said. “Our teams have made great progress installing our snowmaking lines, which will allow us to pump air and water up to Bergman Bowl’s 37 new snow guns, ultimately helping us open our exciting high-Alpine terrain as early as possible.”
In addition to lift terminals and snow guns, Keystone has began work on Bergman Bowl’s sustainable patrol hut, which utilizes beetle-kill pine wood and will run entirely on solar power while being heated by a pellet stove.
The Bergman Bowl expansion will continue to make progress over the next few weeks and has plans to pour concrete via helicopter in the next few days. The Bergman Bowl project is expected to open this winter.
Keystone Resort has a target opening date of mid-October while Breckenridge is planning to open on Nov. 10, according to a press release from Vail Resorts last week.
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