Rocky Mountain Highest :: Winter Park Resort’s New Chairlift

If it were any higher, you’d be asking for supplemental oxygen. Winter Park Resort in Colorado is installing North America’s highest high-speed, six-person chairlift to quickly move guests to the top of Parsenn Bowl, located at a breath-taking 12,060 feet above sea level.

The Panoramic Express, the resort’s third new chairlift installation in as many years, is part of an $8 million on-mountain capital improvement project for the 2007-2008 snow sports season, which opens November 14. In addition to the new lift, more than 100 acres of gladed tree skiing and boarding terrain and two new intermediate trails are being added to the Mary Jane side of the resort, a mountain of long trails known for its moguls and annually voted “Best Bumps? by several skiing magazines.

The new lift will run from an area near the base of the existing Sunnyside Lift to the top of the old Timberline Lift, which is being removed. Where the creaky wind-sensitive Timberline took 11 minutes to move two people up the mountain, the Panoramic Express will take six passengers to the top in around 7 minutes. The above-timberline terrain of Parsenn Bowl and its access to the extreme trails in Vasquez Cirque are two of the most popular areas of Winter Park Resort.

Like many of the resort’s chairlifts, the Panoramic Express was named for a train that used to run through the area. Winter Park, Colorado’s oldest continuously operating ski resort, got its start when ski-crazy Denverites hopped aboard freight trains in the 1930s and 40s, got off at Winter Park and enjoyed a day of hiking or being towed up the mountains and skiing down. The new chairlift’s name also reflects the jaw-dropping panoramic view of the Continental Divide just east of the resort.

Two years ago, Winter Park replaced the Summit Express Chairlift at Mary Jane with the resort’s first high-speed six-passenger lift, the Super Gauge Express. Last season, Winter Park Resort installed the Eagle Wind chairlift to serve Vasquez Cirque and six new steep, challenging trails for advanced skiers and boarders. The Panoramic Express development offers new terrain for guests with a less adventuresome streak who prefer groomed trails.

For details about the new lift, its environment-friendly construction or Winter Park Resort in general, go to www.skiwinterpark.com.

Posted by Janet Day on September 24, 2007 in Travel

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