Lost Colorado Ski Resort aims to reopen this winter

“We are not driven by the bottom line. We are driven more by the end user experience and the ability to offer something special to residents and those visiting the community. »– Cale Dancho, vice president of Pandero Ski Corporation and chairman of the Cuchara Mountain Park Advisory Committee

Could it finally be winter when Chair 4 at Cuchara Mountain Park in southern Colorado finally reopens? All signs point to a reopening for the chairlift to turn again. It was advertised for several years that Colorado’s lost ski resort was set to reopen after the Cuchara Foundation purchased the Huerfano County ski resort in 2017. They have since added a disc golf course , cycle paths and hiking trails. in the ski area. Private groups can rent the space for events, an outdoor classroom is opening soon, and they’re working with the International Mountain Bicycling Association to add multi-use trails.

Over the past month, 5280 Magazine and Colorado Public Radio reported on progress being made to open Cuchara Mountain Park to lift-skiing for next winter. Their goal for the reopening of the ski resort is simple: a return to old-school Colorado skiing with affordable lift tickets. They are aiming for a restricted opening this season with volunteers. For subsequent years, Cuchara aims to operate the lift during weekends and holidays, with the season starting in December and ending in March. Their target markets will be locals and beginner skiers/riders, as Lift 4 offers beginner and intermediate terrain services. It allows novice shredders to learn at a fraction of the cost you would pay in Vail, Breckenridge or other great mountains in Colorado.

I was able to speak with Will Pirkey of the Pandero Ski Corporation, which is a non-profit organization that restores lift 4. Pirkey said they intended to have the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board perform a load and acceptance test in late October/early In addition, they are about to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Huerfano County to allow skiing and riding on the mountain this winter. Pandero expects lift ticket prices to be $40 for adults and $20 for children, with discounts available for Huerfano County residents. The rest of the mountain will be available for off-piste skiers.

The history of Cuchara/Pandero Mountain as a ski resort was quite short. It opened in 1981 with two chairlifts and a tow rope, and operated under a United States National Forest Special Use Permit. The weather was inconsistent, resulting in some short winters and others where they didn’t work at all. Due to continued ownership change and lack of snow, the ski resort closed permanently in 2000. The Cuchara Foundation and the Pandero Ski Corporation responded to these previous mistakes by making the mountain a year-round destination, while by ensuring that Lift 4 will have adequate snowmaking resources.

Following the reopening of Lift 4, the Pandero Ski Corporation is trying to figure out how to expand its offerings beyond the beginner and intermediate runs that will be offered. A magic carpet is envisioned for beginner grinders. They might also consider reopening some of their existing elevator infrastructure, with Lift 5 being specifically mentioned by 5280 Magazine. This lift would add 7-8 intermediate and advanced runs and 60-75 acres of land. Returning this elevator to service, however, would require necessary studies due to the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as approval from the US Forest Service. Ultimately, let’s all aim to help them open Lift 4 so they can take the next steps.

Currently, they have an ongoing campaign to open the mountain this winter. You can donate to help them here.

Picture credits: Spanish Peaks Country (featured image), Pandero Ski Corporation