Custer County man wants to start new ski area
SAN ISABEL ” Terry Cook has a dream, turning a 57-acre parcel of land his family owns near Bishop’s Castle into a ski area.
“My parents (John and Elinor Brown) used to have a rope tow across the road (Colorado 165) for years and years. I helped them run it when I was growing up – they ran it at least 20 years and it closed 15 years ago because people just lost interest in the rope tow when Mountain Cliff reopened in Westcliffe,” Cook said. Mountain Cliff subsequently closed.
When his parents ran the area the rope tow gave skiers access to one big hill and that was it, Cook said.
Cook, 42, wants to offer more trails and a chairlift at his Aspen Country Mountain Park ski area. He has bought a Yan double chairlift and a Snowcat slope groomer from Idaho’s Bogus Basin Ski Area.
His plan calls for eight or nine runs in the first year, half of which will be for beginners, the other half for intermediate skiers.
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Cook is going through the planning process in hopes of getting a special use permit from the Custer County commissioners. On Wednesday, the regional planning commission approved the proposal.
County commissioners will hold a public hearing on the ski area proposal Oct. 4. “If we get the OK, we’ll start putting up the lift Oct. 5. We hope to be ready to open by Dec. 3,” Cook said.
Cook’s partner, Dave Mata, a Canon City contractor, is responsible for setting up the chairlift and building a modest lodge where skiers can warm up, visit a small restaurant and rent skis. They plan to keep the resort family oriented, serving warm drinks like hot chocolate and cider, but no alcohol.
The ski area will be located on Silver Circle Trail, nine miles south of McKenzie Junction on Colorado 165 just past Bigelow Divide and 2 miles north of Bishop’s Castle, a one-hour drive from Pueblo.
Cook said the hill on which the ski area sits is a “snow magnet. Last year we had 342 inches of snow. The slopes are shaded from the sun so the snow never really melts during the winter.”
Skiers will be able to see the Sangre de Cristos from the top of the ski hill as well as enjoy an uncrowded and inexpensive ski experience, Cook said. “The whole point of this is to make it affordable for families to go skiing. We are looking at charging $22 for lift tickets, which will by far be the cheapest skiing anywhere,” Cook said.
With the help of two employees, Cook is thinning trees from the ski runs.
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