Breckenridge Updates Master Plan, Outlines Potential Upgrades for 6, A, C, E Chairs, Peak 9 Gondola
"The structuring vision for the next 10 years at [Breckenridge] is ‘Better not Bigger'"
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You should have seen the looks of horror and confusion when the phone rang. Not a smartphone. I had two and the kids were used to them. But the phone phone. The one plugged into the wall. Brrrrrrrriiiiiiiiinnnnnnggggggg. Repeating. Insistent. “What is that?” the kids wondered. I was surprised too. We’d purchased the device “for emergencies.” But I’d never used it. I didn’t even know the phone number. Somewhere, an old friend of the former owner of that number – or, more likely, a robot – had dialed it. Who? I don’t know. We ignored it, and, eventually, it stopped.
I imagine this is how 95 percent of Breckenridge skiers view the resort’s five remaining Riblet chairlifts: 5-Chair, 6-Chair, A-Chair, C-Chair, and E-Chair. A is a triple, the rest are doubles. They are a combined 232 years old. Riblet is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary of dropping dead (amazingly, their website is still live). Survey the rest of the mountain, and you count five six-packs, six high-speed quads, an eight-person gondy, and eight carpets. What you would expect out of one of America’s best ski resorts. And then these things. As though a Cadillac dealership stuffed a bunch of used Saturns onto its lot.
Calm down Fixed-Grip Bro. I like Riblets too: they are rustic, beautiful, full of character and flair. But we all know they don’t belong here, at the Summit County capital of Vail Resorts. The ski area, fortunately, agrees. Breckenridge recently released its updated master plan, which all resorts operating on U.S. Forest Service land are required to update every 10 years*. If fully implemented, 5, 6, A, and E would make way for high-speed quads on roughly the same lines (Vail Resorts already announced in June that the 5-Chair upgrade was coming in 2023). C would get a promotion to a six-pack and a line extension up beyond the Overlook Restaurant.
All of which will be great for ColoradBro, whose only complaint will be those dumb safety bars Brah. Like, what if one of my boys catches me riding with a tourist lame who wants the bar down so his dumb kid doesn’t fall off and die? What a lame! But Breck’s master plan would include considerable upgrades for Green Circle Gary, who ain’t tryin’ to ski no moguls on his vay-cation. A total of six new carpets could land on Peaks 7, 8, and 9. A new gondola, tentatively called “Frontier,” would rise from the Peak 9 base area, below the Quicksilver sixer, and land at mid-mountain, where two (and possibly three) of the new carpets would live. Finally, a short new triple chair would serve the beginner terrain in the triangle between the existing Rip’s Ride and Snowflake chairs. Here’s a summary of what Breck’s lift fleet would look like at full build-out:
And here’s where the lifts would sit on the mountain:
And here’s the current trailmap for context:
In addition to the lift upgrades, Breck outlined potential terrain development on all five peaks (including up to seven new trails on Peak 10), new glades on Peaks 8 and 9, and snowmaking and facilities improvements.
Breckenridge’s goal is to tame its wild peaks. “The structuring vision for the next 10 years at [Breckenridge] is ‘Better not Bigger,’” the master plan states. Noting that the resort’s “significant congestion … can diminish the guest experience,” Breck says that its “goal is not to increase overall skier and rider visits on or around peak days, but rather to concentrate on improving the guest experience and better managing visitation.” To accomplish this, the resort hopes to both better move skiers out of its base areas with more and better lifts, and to keep many of them on the upper mountains with a combination of better chairs and a subtly re-imagined trail network.
I’ve yet to meet the fully actualized ski area masterplan. Priorities and budgets change, and each of these projects would require its own round of review, approvals and permitting. However, the plans are incredibly fun to talk about. So, here’s a peak-by-peak look at how Breckenridge hopes to achieve its admirable goal of delivering a better-but-not-bigger ski experience, along with analysis of how Epic Pass tweaks could also contribute to a better resort:
*Which hahahahahaha yeah some of these things were last updated when you could still pay for a haircut with gold nuggets.
Below the paid-subscriber jump: a peak-by-peak breakdown of new lifts and terrain, plus what the hell is Breck still doing on the Epic Local Pass?