Sunday, September 15, 2019

CB council in support of proposed ski expansion plan

Summer to expand as well

by Mark Reaman

Crested Butte Mountain Resort officials came before the Crested Butte Town Council on Monday, October 9 to present an overview of the proposed Teocalli Drainage ski area expansion project. They came away with a letter of support from the council for the proposal.

CBMR president Ethan Mueller and the resort’s director of planning, John Sale, showed the council plans for the proposed 500-acre expansion.

“We are excited about this project,” stated Mueller.

“We have had a good response valley-wide,” added Sale. “We have worked three years with the Forest Service and submitted the project proposal this past summer. We expect to be in the environmental review process for a couple of years.”

While the proposal calls for a 500-acre boundary adjustment to the ski resort’s current permit area, the project would ultimately result in 100 acres of new trails and more than 300 acres of gladed terrain. That would entail clearing some 88 acres of trees and vegetation. There would initially be five new “intermediate” trails and two new “advanced” trails.

“It would give us two more main ski pods,” said Sale.

Two new lifts would be installed in the area. There would be a fixed grip triple chair along with a new High Speed Quad that would be longer than the Paradise lift but shorter than the Silver Queen. The bottom terminal of the Quad would still be about 600 feet above the Brush Creek valley floor but Sale said it would not be easily seen from over there.

The North Face Lift would be relocated. It would be replaced with a fixed grip triple chair to be located between East River and Paradise near the Daisy and Upper Treasury trail. “The idea is that once in the Extremes, you could access them without having to ride Paradise. It would alleviate a lot of traffic over there,” Sale said. “So Paradise would serve primarily intermediate skiers.”

Summer part of the plan too

Mueller told the council part of the proposal to the Forest Service included more summer amenities such as mountain bike trails.

“Our mountain bike program has been very successful,” he said. “Our goal is to add one to three miles of single track every year. We want to keep doing that. We see ourselves as an entry into the sport and are more focused on green and blue trails, even though we have some really extreme downhill trails. We want to get families into the sport.”

Mueller said while CBMR sees a small profit in July, the rest of the summer is a struggle, as is the case for most ski areas. But he admitted that summer business is growing quite well.

“We view the mountain with the Forest Service as the high density area for people,” Mueller explained. “People can easily access activities like biking or hiking in the summer with the lifts. We have the ability to help people who might not or cannot go out and start hiking big mountains.”

As for the Teocalli Drainage ski area expansion, the council voted unanimously to support the on-mountain proposal. Mueller said he was hoping to have a much healthier community discussion over the proposal than what took place during the Snodgrass proposal debate. Public presentations like the one before the council was one such effort at making that happen.

“We expect some questions and opposition with this but we want to deal better in a healthier way this time,” Mueller said.

“I hear a lot of people say they will support the project as long as you keep season pass prices low,” said councilman Shaun Matusewicz.

“We lost a lot of sleep when we first lowered the prices like we did a few years ago but we like the low pass price results locally and regionally,” said Mueller. “Now, I can’t say what the prices will be in ten years because I can’t forecast things like wars or electricity rates, but we are happy with the prices right now.”

Mueller emphasized that there is still a lot of work and planning to do on the Teo proposal as it goes through the Forest Service process but he hopes to have more unified community support as the proposal moves ahead.

Under ideal circumstances, the new terrain would be open to the public in 2018 at the earliest.

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