Vail Mountain opens new 6-seat chairlift in Game Creek Bowl for 2022-23 season |

Vail Mountain opens new 6-seat chairlift in Game Creek Bowl for 2022-23 season

John LaConte
Vail Daily
A view from the new, six-seat Game Creek Express chairlift Monday on Vail Mountain. The lift made its debut after seeing construction delays earlier this month.
John LaConte/Vail Daily

Vail Mountain on Monday opened its new, six-seat chairlift in Game Creek Bowl, opening the popular west-facing bowl to skiers and snowboarders for the 2022-23 season.

The Game Creek Express six-seater is a project long envisioned for Game Creek Bowl, but is also a project that saw a delayed opening this season as crews worked to install several new chairlifts throughout the region.

The new six-seat chairlift in Game Creek Bowl is the latest to come online from Leitner-Poma in recent weeks; Loveland ski area saw the addition of the three-person Lift 6 and Breckenridge opened the new Rip’s Ride chairlift earlier this season, with both being installed by Leitner-Poma. 

The company also constructed the new Lenawee Express six-seat chairlift at Arapahoe Basin, which started operating on Dec. 16, completing what is now an entire fleet of Leitner-Poma chairlifts there.

A new lift at Keystone was planned for the mountain’s lift-serviced expansion into the area known as Bergman Bowl, but the project was put on hold this summer due to environmental concerns with construction. That lift was also a six-seater, also from Leitner-Poma.

Vail Mountain is also expected to open another new Leitner-Poma lift, the four-seat Sun Down Express lift, this season. The lift is not an upgrade project, like many of Leitner-Poma’s other installations this year, rather it is an entirely new line that will take skiers and snowboarders from the bottom of Sun Down Bowl near High Noon Express (No. 5) to the top of the Wildwood Area between the Wildwood Express (No. 3) and the new Game Creek Express (No. 5).

The new lift will be No. 17, which is the same number used by the former Sun Up Lift in the adjacent bowl. The Sun Up Lift was upgraded to the Sun Up Express in 2016, at which time the number was changed from 17 to 9.

The new lifts at Vail are part of a $325 million upgrade plan at Vail Resorts properties across the country for the 2022-23 season, which the company says is the largest single-year investment into the guest experience it has ever made.

A look at Game Creek Bowl during its first day of opening for the 2022-23 season on Vail Mountain.
John LaConte/Vail Daily

The opening of the Game Creek Express also opened the Game Creek Bowl to skiers, which the resort usually tries to open by early December, snow permitting, but was unable to this year due to the unfinished construction work. Vail has recorded a total of 129 inches of snow so far this season; the mountain is also waiting on lifts to open in Blue Sky Basin and Mongolia bowls.

In Beaver Creek, however, the final of the resort’s 25 lifts opened for the season on Monday with the opening of the Grouse Mountain Express lift. On Saturday, the McCoy Park ski area opened for the season, as well. Beaver Creek is now claiming a total terrain opening of more than 80% currently.

Good snow conditions are forecast to continue, as well, with the National Weather Service issuing a winter weather advisory scheduled to begin at 11 p.m. on Tuesday and lasting until 5 a.m. on Thursday.

Colorado ski meteorologist Joel Gratz with said the second part of the incoming storm from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday midday could bring higher snow accumulations to the Vail area.

“While there could be some powder on Wednesday, I think that our best chance for powder will be on Thursday morning with storm total snowfall in the 3-8 inches range.”

Gratz said he expects snowfall to die down for a few days after that, “though a continued flow of moisture and weak storm energy could keep snowflakes in the air.”

Then the Vail area could see snowy conditions to start the new year, Gratz said.

“We should see another storm around Sunday, Jan. 1 to Monday, Jan. 2, and again, the first part of this storm could bring an unfavorable wind direction with less snow and the second part of the storm could bring a more favorable wind direction with more snow,” Gratz said.

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