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New and Challenging Terrain: Expert Skiers’ Delight at Western Resorts

This article explores the new and challenging terrain that expert skiers can look forward to at western resorts, particularly in Colorado. With the ski industry facing threats from global warming, ski areas are investing in snow-making technology and carbon emissions reductions. However, some resorts are also taking a different approach by developing higher-altitude terrain that is more likely to maintain snow. This winter, resorts like Aspen Mountain, Keystone Resort, and Steamboat Ski Resort are unveiling high-altitude expansions designed for expert skiers. These expansions aim to provide a longer ski season and offer new and exciting terrain for skiers and snowboarders.

Challenging Terrain Development at Western Resorts

In response to the threats posed by global warming to the ski business in the western United States, ski areas are investing in efficient snow-making and carbon emissions reductions. Additionally, some resorts are pursuing terrain development higher up the mountains, where colder conditions and steeper, tree-filled terrain are more likely to hold snow. This winter, three Colorado ski areas – Aspen Mountain, Keystone Resort, and Steamboat Ski Resort – are unveiling significant high-altitude expansions and terrain additions designed to attract expert skiers and snowboarders.

Aspen Mountain’s Hero’s Expansion

Aspen Mountain, one of the four ski areas in the Aspen Snowmass portfolio, is adding 153 acres of terrain in the expansion known as Hero’s. This expansion increases the overall terrain at Aspen Mountain by 20%. The expansion is located above 10,000 feet and faces northeast, making it ideal for holding snow throughout the winter season. The terrain will be accessible via the Silver Queen Gondola, which takes skiers and riders from the village base to the top of Aspen Mountain at 11,262 feet. The new terrain includes gladed areas within the White River National Forest, providing natural obstacles for skiers to navigate. While there are intermediate level access points, the heart of the terrain is rated double black diamond and designed for expert skiers.

Keystone Resort’s Bergman Bowl

Keystone Resort, owned by Vail Resorts, is opening a new lift that provides access to the Bergman Bowl. Previously, skiers and riders had to hike in or take a snowcat ride to access this high-alpine terrain. The new Bergman Express lift will terminate at 12,282 feet and provide access to approximately 550 acres of terrain, much of it above the tree line. The terrain in the Bergman Bowl has been mapped with 16 new trails, primarily catering to intermediate skiers. Keystone Resort aims to make the new terrain accessible to a wide range of skiers, including families, by incorporating three beginner runs into the design.

Steamboat Ski Resort’s Mahogany Ridge

Steamboat Ski Resort in Steamboat Springs, Colorado has opened 655 acres of expert terrain known as Mahogany Ridge. This area was previously accessible to backcountry skiers but was not officially inbounds, meaning it was not patrolled or groomed. The resort has now introduced the Mahogany Ridge Express lift to serve this experts-only area. The terrain is characterized by steep and challenging slopes, with untouched trees providing natural obstacles. Mahogany Ridge relies solely on natural snowfall, with no snow-making or grooming, but the extreme nature of the terrain allows the resort to preserve its light, fluffy snow for extended periods of time. This expansion caters to core enthusiasts seeking more challenging skiing and snowboarding experiences.

Benefits of Higher Elevation Terrain

Developing terrain higher up the mountains brings several benefits to ski resorts. One of the primary benefits is the ability to keep the resorts open longer, extending the ski season. Higher elevation areas tend to have colder temperatures and better snow retention, allowing resorts to operate even during periods of low snowfall. This not only benefits the resorts financially but also provides skiers and snowboarders with a longer season to enjoy their favorite activities. However, constructing and managing high-elevation terrain comes with its own challenges and limitations, including strong winds and the need for careful snow management.

New and Different Terrain

Offering new and different terrain is important for ski resorts to stay competitive. Skiers and snowboarders are often looking for fresh experiences and the opportunity to explore new slopes. By developing high-altitude terrain or expanding existing areas, resorts can provide something unique and attract a wider range of customers. Moreover, having a variety of terrain options gives resorts a competitive advantage in the industry. Meeting customer demand and providing diverse skiing and snowboarding experiences are essential for resorts to thrive in a rapidly changing market.

In conclusion, terrain development at Western resorts, such as Aspen Mountain, Keystone Resort, and Steamboat Ski Resort, is aimed at investing in efficient snow-making and carbon emissions reductions, developing higher elevation terrain, and adding terrain for expert skiers. These expansions and additions not only extend the ski season but also enhance the competitiveness of the resorts by satisfying customer demand and offering new and different terrain. As the ski industry faces the challenges posed by climate change, the development of high-altitude terrain serves as a vital strategy for preserving the snow and ensuring the future of these renowned Western resorts.