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New Snowmass Master Plan Includes a Hut System

Snowmass had its new master development plan formally accepted by the U.S. Forest Service last week, and among the proposed updates is a backcountry hut system akin to the 10th Mountain Division. Like any of the new items included in the master plan update, it will have to go through an environmental review before becoming reality, but it looks like Aspen Skiing Co. is not content with the number of projects it already has in the wings for Snowmass.

With a reference to "future trends" in skiing (read: the explosion in mass-appeal touring gear), the plan includes the construction of three new on-mountain huts, sleeping between 10 to 20 people. And it seems Skico has a target demographic in mind for this proposed amenity.

From the plan:
"These huts are intended to offer guests during winter and summer months, who may not have the proper equipment or sufficient stamina to use the backcountry hut systems, a similar on-mountain, overnight experience." The huts still have to go through an environmental review before being officially approved, but the plan outlines a couple possible locations, including the Dikes (between Slider and Turkey Trot trails) and the Elk Camp Saddle (between Sandy Park and Hanging Valley Wall).

Also on the winter side of operations, a proposal originally included in 1994 to expand lift access to the top of Burnt Mountain was retained in the update. The proposed lift would gain 2,733 feet and move 1,800 skiers per hour to what is now hike-to terrain, but there's still no timetable for when such a lift might be built. Even though this lift has been in the plan for 21 years now, it, too, would likely have to go through an environmental review. The Burnt Mountain lift would add 30 acres of terrain off the lift itself and another 100 acres would be gladed.

Apparently anticipating the blowback from turning hike-to terrain into intermediate trails and glades, Skico has proposed a half-measure in the meantime: A surface lift would be added along the route that's currently hiked to the top of Burnt Mountain. That surface lift would be removed when the time is right to install the chairlift.

Also included in the master plan update:
• Updating the Big Burn and Coney Glade lifts
• Expanding restaurants
Building a gravity-driven alpine coaster, zip lines and other summer attractions

· Aspen Skiing Co. unveils vision for Snowmass ski area [Aspen Times]
· Snowmass To Get New $8 Million High Alpine Lift This Summer [Curbed Ski]
· What's the Real Timetable for the Snowmass Base Village? [Curbed Ski]
· Snowmass Eyes Vail-Like Plan for Alpine Coaster, Zip Lines [Curbed Ski]