Long, slow, and painfully exposed: the chairlift to the top of High Alpine at Snowmass has for years not been most skiers’ dream ride. But this season, the fixed-grip High Alpine double chairlift has been replaced, after thirty years in operation, with a realigned, high-speed detachable quad that should vastly improve middle-of-the-mountain skiing and snowboarding.
The new High Alpine chair cuts the ride time in half—from eleven to 5.6 minutes—providing swifter access to the famed runs of Hanging Valley. (It won’t open the floodgates, however; there’s still a ten-minute hike, and the lift’s uphill capacity remains the same.) Its realignment to the west allows for user-friendly repeat skiing on the popular, scenic Green Cabin run, which no longer requires a long, flat slog in that was particularly unpleasant for snowboarders. It also improves west-to-east circulation, eliminating the need for skiers coming from the Cirque to descend to the Alpine Springs chair.
The new lift line will also open up new ski lines. Plans for this year and next call for removing up to 40 percent of the trees in the thick, tight woods of Reidar’s Glades, as well as some glading skier’s left of Green Cabin.
Finally, snowmaking has been extended to the top of the Alpine Springs chair, providing important coverage for early and late seasons on lower Green Cabin and around Gwyn’s High Alpine restaurant—welcome news, considering how hungry all that extra exploring will make you.