Keystone Resort plans lift in Bergman Bowl that would provide access to proposed beginner and intermediate trails

A U.S. Forest Service rendering outlines Keystone Resort's plans for beginner and intermediate trails in Bergman Bowl, which would be accessible via a proposed new chairlift, pictured in red.
U.S. Forest Service/Courtesy photo

DILLON — U.S. Forest Service documentation released Thursday shed light on Keystone Resort’s plans to bring an unprecedented lift-served terrain expansion for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders above the resort’s tree line.

If and when the Forest Service approves Keystone’s plan for a detachable-quad lift serving 555 acres in its Bergman and Erickson bowl terrain, skiers and snowboarders would be able to ride two beginner trails and a web of intermediate trails down from above tree line in Bergman Bowl. The beginner and intermediate terrain then would go through trees to the new lift’s base and existing intermediate terrain on North Peak.

The collection of new trails would be located on the moderately slopped Bergman Bowl terrain that, since its opening in 2003, was previously accessible only by paid snow cat or hiking. The old cat track would be the location of the primary green beginner run.

Keystone’s plans are reminiscent of sister Vail Resorts property Breckenridge Ski Resort’s lift-served expansion less than a decade ago to the above-timberline terrain of Peak 6 on the Tenmile Range, where intermediate skiers and riders can often hit groomed runs for a high-Alpine experience more traditionally reserved for advanced skiers and riders.

Keystone’s plans are detailed in the White River National Forest’s recently published environmental assessment of what they term the “Bergman Bowl Enhancement Projects.” The environmental assessment is reviewable on the White River National Forest website and open to public feedback.

The Forest Service’s formal notice of the resort’s proposed action can be reviewed at Members of the public seeking additional information regarding the action can contact Forest Service project leader Sam Massman at or 970- 309-3268.

As for other elements of Keystone’s Bergman Bowl expansion plans, the Forest Service detailed:

  • The proposed lift’s capacity would be 2,400 people per hour, with a top terminal located above tree line at an elevation of 12,300 feet. The bottom terminal would be located below tree line at an elevation of 11,300 feet.
  • Total new construction of 13 ski trails in Bergman Bowl and three ski trails in Erickson Bowl, requiring about 73 acres of tree clearing, 19 acres of grading and glading within 40 acres. The 40 acres of glading would be done in Erickson Bowl to reduce tree density and improve skier egress and circulation to the Outback Express and Wayback lifts. The Forest Service said existing vegetation would be reduced by no more than 20%.
  • The installation of 22 acres of snowmaking coverage on proposed beginner and intermediate ski trails in Bergman Bowl
  • Construction of a 2,200-foot road, intended to provide access to the bottom terminal of the proposed Bergman Bowl lift
  • Construction of a 1,000-square-foot ski patrol facility near the top terminal of the proposed Bergman Bowl lift
  • Expansion of the Outpost Restaurant to provide about 6,000 square-feet of space for guest services, including restaurant seating and restrooms
  • A skier bridge or large culvert to avoid wetland impacts and to cross a drainage on a proposed intermediate ski trail.

Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said in a letter detailing Keystone’s plans that the resort wants to execute this lift-serviced expansion in order to reduce overcrowding by redistributing skiers from the resort’s front-side terrain.

Currently, the Forest Service reports about 25-50 skiers and snowboarders hike into Bergman Bowl each day while the Keystone Adventure Tours snowcat service shuttles 400-600 guests into Bergman and Erickson bowls each week when open. The Forest Service added all of Keystone’s intended plans in the expansion are for winter use only.

“The proposed Bergman Bowl terrain enhancements are needed to increase the terrain variety at Keystone for a range of ability levels while providing an above tree line skiing experience that does not currently exist for lower ability level guests,” Fitzwilliams wrote. “In addition, the proposed chairlift and terrain enhancements are needed to help improve skier circulation between key terrain pods at Keystone.”

The project is not yet funded by Vail Resorts, which has announced it is deferring all plans for new chairlifts because of financial impacts related to the coronavirus shutdown.

Public comment on the project will be accepted through May 31 by mail to Scott Fitzwilliams, c/o Sam Massman, Project Leader, Dillon Ranger District, PO Box 620, Silverthorne, CO 80498.

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