Breckenridge Ski Resort's biggest expansion in the last decade is officially underway.
Construction started to create 543 acres of new terrain in the Peak 6 area of Breckenridge Ski Resort, Vail Resorts announced Wednesday.
The Peak 6 expansion project will stretch the amount of skiable terrain at the resort by almost a quarter. The project will include 400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain. The resort also plans to add a high-speed, six-person chairlift and a fixed-grip chairlift to access the Peak 6 area.
Peak 6, located within the resort's special use permit boundary, is the first ski terrain expansion on U.S. Forest Service land in Colorado since 2008 and the first at Breck since the Peak 7 expansion in 2002.
The 543-acre terrain addition is slated to open for skiing and riding for the 2013-2014 ski season.
“This is one of the most notable ski area enhancements in the past decade,” said Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, in a press release. “The new expanded terrain will feature high-alpine, intermediate bowl skiing — a rare find among our eight world-class resorts and in North America. This is an exciting season on the horizon for Breck and our company.”
The resort currently features four peaks, encompassing 2,358 acres. Within the skiable area, there are five terrain parks, two halfpipes and eight bowls. The resort also boasts the highest chairlift in North America.
The process for approval for the Peak 6 expansion project began with a scoping in 2007.
The U.S. Forest Service approved the project in August 2012 in the form of a Record of Decision, after completing a Final Environmental Impact Statement. The decision was appealed, but after further review the Forest Service decided to uphold its approval.
The appeal was filed in October 2012, raising issues that the project violated NEPA, violated the Forest Plan direction on scenery, and did not adequately evaluate the loss of backcountry skiing or the location where backcountry access gates might be located.
The Forest Service said an appeal-deciding officer reviewed the concerns and affirmed the White River National Forest supervisor’s decision to approve the project.
The project has also raised concerns about degradation to lynx habitat.
Vail Resorts and environmental nonprofit Rocky Mountain Wild compromised over concerns the expansion project would damage the local Canada lynx population in late May.
The Denver-based organization decided not to move forward with litigation when Vail Resorts agreed to increase its contribution to the National Forest Fund, which was established to address lynx habitat improvements in Summit County. The company agreed to pay $425,000 toward lynx conservation in Summit, representing $125,000 on top of its original pledge.
“There’s always going to be some conflict between nonprofit and private industry,” Matt Sandler, staff attorney at Rocky Mountain Wild, said in an interview on May 31. “This demonstrates a situation where we could find some common ground and put our time and resources toward a beneficial cause.”
Vail Resorts representatives said they will announce the projected opening day for the Peak 6 lifts and terrain during the early winter season as construction comes to a conclusion.
“We are excited to be underway with the construction of this important project, and will work with the USFS to keep the public updated on additional information in regard to public safety as the project moves along, especially as it relates to recreational access in the area,” said Pat Campbell, SVP and COO of Breckenridge Ski Resort, in a press release.
As part of the construction process, the USFS has issued an official Forest Supervisor Closure for the Peak 6 construction area closing all roads and trails within the area for the duration of construction. The closure applies to pedestrians, wheeled motor vehicles and all other forms of motorized and non-motorized travel. For more information on the closure, contact the Dillon Ranger District at 970-262-3484.
The new expanded terrain will feature high-alpine, intermediate bowl skiing — a rare find among our eight world-class resorts and in North America. This is an exciting season on the horizon for Breck and our company.”