Trail and Lift Maintenance Seeks to Improve Guest Experience and Help the Environment
TELLURIDE – Ski season may have ended months ago, but skiing is certainly on the minds of officials at Telluride Ski and Golf Co. this summer, where improvements and upgrades to the resort are humming along.
According to PR and Communications Coordinator C. Pepper Raper, “The summertime maintenance accomplishments will help with overall lift safety, improve the loading process on two key chairs, and aid lift maintenance in the winter when they need to make repairs or inspections. All of these benefit the guest experience through safety and efficiency.”
In addition to upgrading the lifts, trail crews are working to improve ski trails all over the mountain, cutting brush and removing potential hazards to facilitate the opening of some areas on the lower mountain earlier, with less snowfall than has been required in prior years, and making the entire mountain safer and more fun for all snowriders.
To that end, trail crews have been working with the U.S. Forest Service on spruce beetle mitigation. According to Raper, this entails cutting down infected trees and debugging them “by removing the bark,” in what she says is “an extremely time consuming process [that] requires a lot of work. Beetle-infested trees, dubbed “trap trees,” will be cut down and left on the ground, for a season. “Spruce beetles are attracted to unhealthy/dying trees,” Raper explained, and, “because their natural defense systems are compromised, the idea behind cutting these unhealthy trees,” which tend to already host spruce beetles, “on the forest floor is that they will attract beetles,” becoming “packed with beetles,” so that “the following season, we will debark the trees, killing the beetles and larvae.”
On the equipment improvements front, Raper says, “We want to guarantee we have well-functioning and healthy equipment to uphold the highest standard of safety and prevent any problems that could occur during the winter season.” the main lifts – 4, 5, 7, 9 and 10 – will see improvements this summer.
Chair 4, Mountain Village’s main lift, will receive a new loading deck, which requires leveling, rebuilding and re-carpeting. “By leveling and re-carpeting the loading decks, guests will have a safer and easier time getting on and off the chair,” she says, with the leveled surface improving safety by preventing riders from sliding off to either side, and the new carpet creating a smoother surface “so that pulling up to the loading line will be easier,” Raper says.
Chair 5, which services much of the resort’s best intermediate terrain, and is also a key point of access to lifts serving the upper mountain and the bowls, will also receive a new loading deck to ease the on-and-off process. Additionally, Telski will shortening the haul rope, which has stretched, an arduous project requiring a specialist that is completed, mostly by hand, over a two-to-three-day process.
“Much of the summer lift maintenance work is preventative,” Raper says, “to ensure the chairs will function properly” during ski season.
Lift 9, the go-to lift on powder days (and the lift seemingly most susceptible to huge crowds), will receive new catwalks at the top. The goal here, Raper says, is to “ease the process of inspections or necessary repairs, as well as improve safety for workers, so that the chair can be back up and running quicker.”
Lift 10, the longest ride out of Mountain Village, one that swings skiers above some of the nicest and most expensive houses in the area (including Oprah Winfrey’s former home), will get a new drive and a new spacing chain.
And Telluride’s Chair 7, a popular alternative to the gondola, will see some cosmetic improvements, including new slats of white oak and a new paint job. Chair 7 will also undergo a rebuilding of the assemblies that allow the lift to move, which will help the lift run more smoothly.
With all the work on trails, particularly on the lower mountain, the resort hopes to open some of its main runs earlier than in previous seasons.
According to Raper, “Trail maintenance has been doing a lot of brush cutting” on terrain accessed via chairs 7 and 8. This focus “on the lower areas of the mountain,” she says, is with an eye to opening lower runs earlier in the season, because “not as much snow is needed for coverage” facilitating an “early opening of ski runs.”
Raper says trail crews have focused on hazard removal (including removal of fallen trees and other debris) on Log Pile, Satisfaction and Orient, off of Bushwacker, and Prospect Glad, and that Holy Cow, one of the more popular intermediate runs on the mountain, has been widened.
Because Telluride’s intermediate runs are few and far between, their widening those runs promotes skier safety by allowing more space, thus hopefully reducing the likelihood of collisions.
In the past, she says, “trail maintenance focused on clearing out the glades they didn’t do last year, so as to set the mountain up on a cycle to keep these areas safe and clear alternating each summer.”