Down to the Snow: Breckenridge Ski Resort and A-Basin Enter Final Stages of Lift Upgrades

Breckenridge Ski Resort crews are working to detach chairs from Rip’s Ride on Peak 8 at the resort earlier this spring. The ski resort has been working all summer to update the lift from a fixed-grip double chair to a high-speed quad.
Sarah McLear/Courtesy Photo

It may be hard to believe, but the 2022-23 ski season is less than two months away in Summit County.

With the unofficial end of summer occurring on Labor Day, local ski resorts plan to complete all outstanding construction projects before the snowfall begins in a few weeks.

In Summit County, Breckenridge Ski Resort and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area will see the addition of newly updated lifts for the 2022-23 winter season.

Vail Resorts will update Rip’s Ride on Breckenridge Ski Resort’s Peak 8, while Araphoe Basin will replace its Lenawee Mountain Lift.

Before construction began in late spring, Rip’s Ride and Lenawee Mountain Lift were both fixed-handle chairs, with Rip’s Ride being two-seater and Lenawee being three-seater.

Both lifts will now be updated to provide customers with a better experience by reducing queues and moving people up the mountain at a faster pace. Rip’s Ride will be updated to a quad chair and Lenawee will be updated to a high-speed six-pack chair.

“The old lift was a two-person, fixed-handle lift from the mid-’70s,” said Adam Pino, lift maintenance manager for Breckenridge Ski Resort. “We’re updating it to a four-pack detachable, and the biggest difference with a detachable is the cargo area.”

The foundation of a lift tower is visible at the future site of the upgraded Rip’s Ride ski lift on Peak 8 at Breckenridge Ski Resort. Construction crews have been working on modernizing the elevator throughout the summer to provide a faster and more improved experience for its customers. for the 2022-23 winter season.
Adam Pino/Courtesy Photo

Pino explained that it is easier to load on the removable chair than on a chair with a fixed handle.

“Load times are much slower, it’s easier for people to get on,” Pino said.

The Rip’s Ride update will not only help get skiers and snowboarders up the mountain faster, but it will also increase the level of enjoyment for first-time and first-time visitors.

“The comeback line should be a lot shorter because, No. 1, there’s better ability,” Pino said. “No. 2, in theory it should work much more consistently without any stopping people falling or anything. That should raise the line from the beginners area to the base of peak 8.”

Much like Rip’s Ride at Breckenridge Ski Resort, the new Lenawee Express is essential to A-Basin’s operations. The Lenawee Express will continue to help transport a variety of mid-mountain skiers and bring them to both expert-only and groomed trails.

The lift will also provide access to the two new restaurants in the ski area: Steilhang Hut and the renovated il Rifugio.

The updated version of the Lenawee Express will feature heavier six-seater chairs that will provide both a smoother and faster ride in the mountains. The extra weight of the chairs makes them less susceptible to strong winds from the Alps, which sometimes stopped the older version of the lift.

“The original Lenawee had an ascent capacity of 1,800 people per hour and took about nine minutes to get from mid-mountain to summit,” said Louis Skowyra, operations manager for Arapahoe Basin Mountain. “The new lift will have a capacity of 2,400 people per hour and a travel time of four minutes.”

The Lenawee Express terminal is seen Wednesday August 31 at the Arapahoe Basin ski area. Construction took place throughout the summer to transform the original fixed-handle three-seat lift into a high-speed six-pack.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area / Courtesy Photo

Both updated lifts will follow much the same path as the previous version of the lifts, helping to reduce the environmental impact of construction on ski areas.

At Breckenridge, a slight overhaul of the ski resort’s snowmaking system had to be carried out in order to move it away from the new lift terminal.

According to Skowyra, Arapahoe Basin was able to reuse seven of the old tower foundations and only had to remove five trees from the project site. The ski area further minimizes its environmental impact by using helicopters and a spider excavator.

Both projects are currently on schedule and on track to open for the 2022-23 season despite having to circumvent the monsoon rainstorms that have plagued the county throughout the summer.

“There are always challenges,” Pino said. “I’ve been here for over 20 years and it’s been one of the rainiest summers. I’m just trying to follow the rain and keep going. Obviously, the first mornings are good and the afternoons slow down a bit. Overall, things went pretty well. »

With the concrete tower foundations installed at both ski resorts, the remaining work can be done in the event of snowfall. Towers will be installed and load tests will be carried out to test the safety of the lifts before opening day at both ski resorts.

The Arapahoe Basin ski area plans to open in mid-October while the Breckenridge ski resort will open Nov. 11.

A new elevator accessing the Keystone Resort’s Bergman Bowl was supposed to be in place before the 2022-23 ski season, but a construction error put the project on hold.