CBMR not ready to confirm any plans
By Katherine Nettles
The U.S. Forest Service has given its final record of approval for Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s (CBMR) proposal in accordance with the resort’s Teocalli Drainage Expansion Project. The Expansion Project was submitted in 2015 and has undergone a comprehensive environmental review. However, it is not yet clear what CBMR will choose to do with this approval, and if it will proceed with any (or all) of the projects.
The proposed Teocalli Drainage Expansion Project outlines a 500-acre permit boundary expansion, intended to provide additional intermediate and advanced terrain within the existing geography of the mountain. The proposed expansion area is located in the Teocalli drainage on the east face of the mountain. Additionally, the plan features three new chairlifts, including a replacement of the resort’s existing North Face Lift; 32 acres of additional new snowmaking on existing mountain trails; a new Ski Patrol outpost; and approximately 15 miles of new hiking and mountain bike trails.
The proposed improvements are the result of many years of public processes and coordination between CBMR, the community and the GMUG staff, according to the USFS.
“I’m happy to see the progress that has been made to ensure that Forest resources will be protected and visitor expectations and services at CBMR will continue to be met into the future” said GMUG Deputy Forest Supervisor Chad Stewart.
Tim Baker, general manager of CBMR, expressed his appreciation for having received the USFS’s record of decision and for all that went into the proposal prior to Vail Resorts’ purchase of CBMR last year. “The Mueller family did a great job of casting a vision for this plan, and we look forward to identifying how we will proceed with it,” he wrote in a press release June 5.
The Teocalli Drainage Expansion Project consists of nine new trails, including five intermediate trails and four advanced “groomable glade” trails, plus 434 acres of new gladed terrain. The addition of three new chairlifts would create lift-served access to existing terrain in Teocalli and Teocalli 2 Bowls, thereby eliminating the requisite hike-outs and streamlining access to terrain within CBMR’s famed North Face. The additional 32 acres of snowmaking covers five of CBMR’s existing trails: Shep’s Chute, Rachel’s, Black Eagle, Lower Gallowich and Lower Championship, increasing the resort’s snowmaking capabilities to 329 total acres.
A new Ski Patrol outpost at the top of the existing North Face Lift will improve incident response time in the area as well as provide sundries for guests in an otherwise secluded and distant on-mountain location.
CBMR declined to comment on what timeline they might use in making decisions about how to proceed, or when any aspects of the project might begin.
“We intend to take our time in thoughtfully assessing the operations of Crested Butte Mountain Resort, including prioritizing which proposed plans and capital improvement projects would provide the greatest benefit to the guest experience,” said Baker. “I’d like to thank the U.S. Forest Service, previous ownership and all other stakeholders for their diligent work over the past few years to move this project forward. There is a bright future ahead for Crested Butte Mountain Resort.”
In April, 2019, the U.S. Forest Service approved CBMR’s plan to replace and realign the former Teocalli Lift. The former 1979 Riblet fixed-grip double chairlift is being replaced with a fixed-grip quad chairlift; construction is set to be complete before the 2019-20 winter season.
“Today’s announcement will not affect the plans to replace and realign the Teocalli Lift,” confirmed CBMR communications specialist Zach Pickett. “We look forward to having the new Teocalli Lift operational for the upcoming winter season.”