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 Vail Unveils Its Future Full Of New, Upgraded And Realigned Lifts

Vail-Summit-Cover Vail handles up to 20,000 skiers and riders a day, and a new lift plan aims to keep them moving around the mountain. (Image via Vail Facebook)

With a new and approved master plan in hand, Vail Mountain officials now have a blueprint for overhauling their massive lift sytem to unclog main base areas and streamline everyone's ability to get around Colorado's biggest mountain.

No dates have been put to any of these upgrades, as each new lift will have to be OK'd by Forest Service officials, on whose domain 5,317-acre, 21-lift Vail Mountain operates. But with emphasis in the plan on getting guests up and out of Vail's five base villages, skiers and riders should expect to see the first construction on the lower front side.

When looking maps of the aggressive plan, skiers and riders can hardly find a spot on the frontside of Vail Mountain that won't be affected if this plan reaches full fruition.

The plan aims to reduce lift lines out of Vail Village with an already-approved six-pack Trans Montane chair to Riva Ridge run, and an upgraded workhorse Eagle Bahn gondola from eight to 12 seats -- with new a mid-station next to the top of the Born Free Express, which is soon to be a six-pack as well.

Perhaps the biggest game changer will be Riva Bahn Express gondola out of the Golden Peak base. It will be Vail's first lift to deliver folks from the bottom to the Back Bowls in one fell swoop. Now a high-speed quad that winds its way up to the base of Northwoods chair, River Bahn will become a 16,000-foot-long gondola -- with a mid-station -- that runs all the way up to the ridge that overlooks the Back Bowls.

On the opposite side of the bottom, the fixed-grip Cascade Village chair -- one of Vail's first lifts -- can get upgraded to a high-speed quad.

On the mountain, Vail will add seats all over the front side, including ridge-reaching pair Wildwood and Mountaintop high-speeds and the busy Avanti Express. Even the short (1,000 ft.) fixed-grip Little Eagle that serves upper mountain learning areas is planned to be a high-speed quad.

On the backside, the most significant upgrade is a new Mongolian Express that will give new life to Mongolian and Siberian bowls. Previously served by a high-speed quad and a long traverse, the skier's left sector will have a new high-speed chair right in the middle of the action. And, both Teacup and Orient high-speeds get two more seats.

Vail officials insist that the updated plan does not try to get more skiers and riders on the hill (they "manage to" a 19,900 capacity right now). Instead, they say that it will create a more efficient lift system that will spread them out all around the mountain.



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