Breckenridge resort officials: Peak 6 to ease issues

Officials say Breckenridge proposal would help with crowding

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— When Breckenridge Ski Resort officials drafted the Peak 6 expansion proposal, they said, it was the best way to help mitigate two of the resort’s biggest problems: crowding and a shortage of intermediate ski terrain.

But the plan they put forward is expected to accelerate the natural yearly growth in skier visits, and some have questioned whether it actually makes appropriate terrain easily available to intermediate skiers.

Breckenridge regularly far exceeds its 15,000 skier per day “comfortable carrying capacity,” sometimes maxing out on busy days above 20,000 skiers. And while the Peak 6 proposal would increase the comfortable carrying capacity to 16,500 skiers per day, analysis of the project indicate it also would accelerate the yearly natural growth in skier visits.

Data included in the Forest Service’s draft environmental impact statement project a 2 percent yearly increase in skier visits if the ski resort expands to Peak 6 in the preferred version of the project, compared with only a 0.75 percent yearly increase if it does not.

Some also have raised questions about the expansion’s ability to provide additional intermediate skiing. The lift proposed for Peak 6 is aligned so that skiers unloading at the top of the mountain, well above tree-line, could end up negotiating terrain of 40 percent or steeper grade — generally considered to be expert level skiing — to get to intermediate level runs.

But resort executives say the project plan offers terrain to the south of the lift unload station that is appropriate for intermediate skiers and accesses the lower intermediate runs.

“We feel that the lift, as proposed, is the right way to do it,” Breckenridge Chief Operating Officer Pat Campbell said.

The U.S. Forest Service favored plan — the second of three possible alternatives — for the Peak 6 expansion will add hundreds of acres of intermediate terrain and a six-person detachable lift on a fifth mountain. These are features Breckenridge operations experts say are the best option to shrink long lift lines, reduce trail crowding and improve the overall guest experience. All three alternatives were analyzed in the recently-issued statement.

“Our project proposal we believe is the highest priority and most important enhancement we can make to the skier experience,” Campbell said about Alternative 2. “Between the significant amount of terrain we would add and the lift capacity, we feel that’s the best thing we could do.”

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