Mt. CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. - At length, ski area officials in Crested Butte seem to accept that they're not going to build a ski resort on Snodgrass Mountain, at least not the traditional type with multiple lifts.
For nearly 30 years, the ski area operators have been trying to build the much bigger ski area, using the moderate slopes of Snodgrass, located across the valley from the existing ski area. Community opposition and then inertia by the operators themselves twice before foiled the expansion plans.
A decade ago, ski area owners began pushing again for the expansion. They insisted they needed more intermediate terrain, to be able to compete with places like Aspen, Summit County and Vail. For visitors, most of whom had intermediate-level skills, the ski area was boring after maybe three days.
But the community remained divided, and the Forest Service last year said it didn't want to get involved in the spat. To the indignation of the ski area operators, the agency refused to accept the proposal.
Now, after meeting with the agency's representatives recently, ski area officials seem to accept there will be no "traditional" lift-served resort on Snodgrass, reports the Crested Butte News .
"The Forest Service made it clear they don't foresee traditional skiing on Snodgrass, but in the end they are open to looking at new options with us," said Ken Stone, the chief operating officer at the ski area.
Added Stone: "We are going to look at this through a new set of goggles. We want to separate ourselves from other resorts."
Stone went on to say that the ski area sees alternatives, including gravity-fed mountain biking, snowcat skiing, and some sort of expanded backcountry skiing.
"Longer term, alpine touring is a growing part of the ski market, and we can bring that in more," said Stone. "We do think there are still ways to get intermediate skiers over on Snodgrass. There is a lot of intermediate terrain over there."
The News says it's still possible a ski lift could be built on the mountain, although the circumstances are not clear.
Meanwhile, ski area officials have now turned their attention to carving additional intermediate terrain out of the existing ski mountain, which is laden with black-diamond and double black-diamond terrain.
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