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Vail Mountain submits snow making expansion proposal

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Mountain Technology,

Vail Mountain ski resort in Colorado, US, has submitted a proposal to the US Forest Service to improve its existing snow making system and expand snow making on the upper-mountain.

The proposal aligns with the resort’s Master Development Plan that was accepted by the Forest Service in July. The Forest Service is expected to outline its review process, including a public comment period, sometime this autumn.

“The ability to expand our snow making infrastructure in areas on the mountain with higher elevations, colder temperatures, northern aspect and excellent connectivity to areas that typically hold good natural snow would be transformational for the resort and our guests,” said Greg Johnson, Vice President of Mountain Operations for Vail. “For early-season operations, our strategy would be to begin by making snow in the Mid-Vail area in order to open the Mountain Top Express Lift (#4), followed by the Avanti Express Lift (#2) for access out of and back to both Lionshead and Vail Village. This means a significant portion of the front side beginner and intermediate terrain could be open earlier, enhancing both the guest experience and the early-season resort economy in both villages.”

Some of the key areas of focus and proposed snow making coverage areas would include: Swingsville Ridge, Swingsville, Ramshorn, The Meadows and Over Easy in the Mid-Vail area; Lodgepole, Ledges and Avanti in the area of the Avanti Express Lift (#2); Eagles Nest Ridge, as well as upper Lost Boy, upper Born Free and Timberline Face; plus Flap Jack, Riva Ridge and lower Highline.

All snow making infrastructure would be installed on existing trails, and no tree clearing would be necessary according to Vail.

The resort’s system currently has the capacity to make snow on 452 acres, or 15% of total developed skiable terrain; should the proposal be approved the new infrastructure would increase that capacity to 686 acres, a 52% increase in the resort’s current snow making terrain. More than 20 miles of new or retrofitted existing snow making pipes would be installed during a multi-year roll-out.

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