Cloud 9

New gates were installed this season to reduce speed at the intersection above Cloud 9 chairlift at Aspen Highlands. The second part of of this safety improvement will take place next season, after the Oly Face slope sees some contouring.

A busy intersection at Aspen Highlands could see some relief next season due to planned mountain improvements, an Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman said this week.

Grading of the Oly Face run near where it converges with the top of Cloud 9 chairlift could ease some of the congestion that’s been evident this season. The intersection was the site of an accident last weekend and the scene of several near collisions this year observed by this reporter.

A 0.2-acre section of Oly Face was gladed and trees were removed in October, prior to the start of the 2018-19 season, according to Jeff Hanle, SkiCo’s vice president of communications.

SkiCo received permission to make those changes through a decision memo proposed within the Aspen Highlands Special Use Permit boundary and referenced in the 2013 Aspen Highlands Master Development Plan.

The second part of the intersection improvement involves some regrading “so the skier’s right hand side of the run will be rounded off to make it an easier path,” Hanle said.

According to the Forest Service’s decision memo: “Approximately 0.07 acres of grading would be required to round off the transition on the skier’s right side of the existing Oly Face trail into the tree removal area. The total grading would be an approximately 100-foot-long by 30-foot-wide area, generating approximately 150 cubic yards of material.

“All disturbed areas would be revegetated according to the ASC Revegetation Plan. Total disturbance for this project would be less than 0.5 acres.”’

In concert with the glading, SkiCo “relocated the grooming sign and moved some signage around to direct flow in this high-traffic area,” Hanle said in an email.

“It will mitigate some of that traffic,” Hanle said, adding that he had not heard of a rise in collisions or near-misses this season. But additional skier visits this year from increased local usage and the Ikon Pass popularity have contributed to the perception that this intersection is getting busier.

Hanle said, “We’ll continue to watch it and work on signage. The regrading this summer should help next season.”

Lift will wait a year

A new surface lift on Golden Horn will be built in the summer of 2020 rather than this summer.  Hanle said that was due to the timing of the Forest Service’s decision made in October 2018.

“We didn’t have enough time after the decision to get the lift installed this summer,” Hanle said.

The lift is being funded by Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club as part of their continuing improvements to the Stapleton Alpine Training Center.

AVSC spokeswoman Katie Hauser said Tuesday, “We are excited the surface lift will be installed the summer of 2020.”

In the Forest Service memo, the platter lift is listed as approximately 1,660 feet long with a 495-foot vertical rise. The upper two-thirds of the lift alignment are located on USFS land. AVSC has wanted a shorter lift to allow for repeat runs on the training venue.

Construction activities include concrete foundations for lift terminals and towers, installation of power lines at the top of Thunderbowl lift to the surface lift top terminal and minor grading of the top terminal. No tree removal is required. Total disturbance is less than 1.5 acres, according to the application.

Madeleine Osberger is a Contributing Editor for Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at madski@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @Madski99