Vail Construction Gaffe Puts Keystone’s New Lift in Jeopardy

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This story was originally published by Skimag.com

Anyone who’s skied Keystone Resort’s North and South Bowls has long eyed the terrain just to the north, served for years by the resort’s catskiing operation or a 1.5-mile hike from North Peak. This season, Bergman Bowl is scheduled to get its own high-speed six-pack, the Bergman Express, which will top out 12,282 feet. Construction began at the end of last season and had been moving along at a good clip until the construction crew erroneously took heavy equipment into an unauthorized area. The resort is now waiting on direction from the U.S. Forest Service as to whether this error will affect Bergman’s opening.

“Keystone Resort has a long history of successful partnership with the U.S. Forest Service on projects that provide guests the opportunity to enjoy outdoor recreation within our National Forest,” the resort said via press release this week. “We take this mistake seriously, and at their direction have paused some work at the site while the USFS conducts an assessment to determine next steps.”

Delays for Vail Resorts and Mixed Reactions from Locals

This is the second possible postponement of one of the projects in Vail Resorts’ Epic Lift Upgrade plan to replace or update 14 lifts across 21 resorts. Two lifts at Park City Resort were successfully halted after locals brought an appeal that the resort had violated its conditional-use permit.

The highly anticipated Bergman Bowl was previously considered expert terrain largely because it was hike-to, most of it will be downgraded to intermediate now that it will be lift-accessed, partially groomed, and patrolled. When it opens, skiers will find 16 newly cut trails—13 in Bergman and three in neighboring Erickson Bowl—ranging from top-to-bottom green cruisers to steep blacks—that funnel down through Jane’s Journey to the Prospector run under the Outpost Gondola.

Similar to nearby North, South, and Independence Bowls, the terrain boasts a moderate pitch with smatterings of glades as you ski down from the top. The views are fabulous, stretching out over the Rocky Mountain high peaks, which is where inspiration for the trail names all came from.

The trails’ names are: Miners, Quandary, Ten Mile,  Thorne, Ute, Buffalo, Ptarmigan, Red, Torreys, Grays, Wichita, Uneva, Jane’s Journey, Tenderfoot, Nuchu, and Silverheels. They’re names of surrounding 13,000-14,000-foot peaks visible from the Bergman summit.

As with any expansion, reactions from locals and visitors are mixed. “RIP to all of the pow that used to be there,” complained one disgruntled skier on Instagram. The resort responded with a reminder that there will still be 1,300 acres of in-bound hike-to terrain in Independence Bowl, North and South Bowls, and the Windows.

“Can’t wait!” said one slightly more enthused skier. “I was at opening day for 3 Bears Lift at Copper and I expect to be at opening day for this too! Views up there are incredible!”

Keystone Senior Communications Manager Sara Lococo explained that not all construction has paused, and that they are still doing some trail and snowmaking work, and have also begun work on the Outpost Restaurant expansion. As part of the upgrade, the Outback will be expanded by 6,000 square feet and 300 indoor seats to accommodate more skier traffic. The deck, home to expansive mountain views, will also be expanded to the tune of 75 seats. There will also be snowmaking capabilities and a new patrol shack back there.

Lococo said they hope to hear back from the USFS soon, but don’t have an exact date.

“It’s going to be a game-changer,” said Keystone Vice President and General Manager Chris Sorensen. “Keystone is the hidden gem for advanced skiers and riders, but this new terrain will also allow families and all guests to get above the tree line without hiking. I think it will completely change how our guests, especially hard-charging locals, and Front Range residents, ski and ride the mountain.”


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