Keystone Seeks to Build Bergman Bowl Lift

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Fresh off announcing a plan to replace the Peru Express, Keystone Resort has submitted an application to the White River National Forest for construction of a new lift in Bergman Bowl.  As outlined in the resort’s 2009 master plan, the Bergman Bowl Express would rise approximately 1,000 vertical feet and service high alpine terrain above North Peak.  Topping out at an elevation of 12,200 feet, the lift would expand the resort’s lift-served vertical to nearly 3,000 feet.  The detachable quad would service 500-plus acres of terrain in both Bergman and Erickson Bowls, which are already within Keystone’s permit area.  The proposal also includes new snowmaking, below treeline trails, a warming hut and expansion of the existing Outpost restaurant.

keystonemdpmid
The Bergman lift alignment as envisioned in 2009.

“Keystone’s high alpine bowl skiing offers an exceptional variety of terrain which is currently only accessible via hiking or cat skiing,” said Jody Churich, vice president and general manager of Keystone Resort.  “This project would be transformational for Keystone, allowing guests to spread out across the resort and better utilize some of our existing above treeline terrain, as well as provide an open bowl skiing experience that appeals to a wide variety of ability levels from novice to expert.”

The project timeline and level of environmental review are up to the Forest Service.  More details should become public when the project hits the agency’s Schedule of Proposed Actions website.

23 thoughts on “Keystone Seeks to Build Bergman Bowl Lift

  1. reaperskier December 16, 2019 / 10:15 am

    I wonder if this lift will be a relocated peru express?

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    • Peter Landsman December 16, 2019 / 10:22 am

      Unlikely considering Montezuma was mostly scrapped when it was four years newer than Peru will be in 2021.

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      • Donald Reif December 16, 2019 / 11:39 am

        The Montezuma Express and Peru Express lifts were built together in 1990.

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        • Ryan Murphy December 16, 2019 / 10:00 pm

          He’s saying Peru in 2021 would be four years older than Montezuma in 2017, when it was scrapped. Peru will likely get parted out.

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      • Donald Reif December 16, 2019 / 11:48 am

        Also, even if Vail reuses the Peru Express’s parts, I think there’d be issues at hand with converting a top drive lift to operate as a bottom drive lift. Since the Peru Express was built as a top drive lift, and I’m pretty sure a Bergman Express would have to be built as a bottom drive lift.

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        • Lifty Nick December 16, 2019 / 9:41 pm

          No problem in nearly all situations converting top-drive to bottom-drive and vice versa.

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        • Donald Reif December 18, 2019 / 1:35 pm

          Thanks for reminding me of Whistler-Blackcomb’s conversion of Harmony 4 from a bottom drive high speed quad to a top-drive lift during its reinstallation as the Crystal Ridge Express lift.

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  2. Jonathan December 16, 2019 / 11:15 am

    I feel as though Keystone is neglecting the replacement of Wayback. The lift gets slammed at the end of the day and the lift takes forever to ride. I’m still a little upset that Vail is wasting money on replacing a lift that has no problems with capacity and that is only used once or twice in a ski day. Sorry to rant about this.

    I feel as though building a detachable lift in Bergman Bowl would put way too much traffic on some of the awesome terrain up there and it would attract beginner skiers. On closing day for the 18-19 season, I was skiing powder laps up there. I think a better option is a relocated Wayback Lift to service Bergman Bowl. If the lift is not long enough, maybe they could use some of the towers from Peru. Let me know your thoughts on this idea.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Donald Reif December 16, 2019 / 11:37 am

      I feel like moving people around the mountain more efficiently matters more than preserving powder stashes.

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    • Donald Reif December 16, 2019 / 11:46 am

      Also, a high speed quad in Bergman Bowl wouldn’t attract beginner skiers. There are no beginner trails that are reachable from the North Peak and Outback chairlifts, so a Bergman Express would be gaining intermediate skiers at most, providing access to intermediate bowl terrain in the same vein as what the Kensho SuperChair services at Breck, with trails that start above timberline and finish below timberline.

      Of note on the master plan is that when it was conceived, there were plans for a triple chairlift to be built that would provide access to the proposed Bergman Express as part of a cutover directly from the summit of Dercum Mountain, allowing guests to directly get to Bergman Bowl as well as the Outback Express lift without having to clog Mozart and the Santiago Express lift.

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    • skitheeast December 16, 2019 / 11:53 am

      Keystone has always felt very crowded when I have skied there, so expanded their lift-serviced terrain to better spread out skiers is a great idea, especially with a lift like this where it serves some awesome terrain up in the Bergman and Erickson. I get the whole uncrowded nature of the area at the moment, but at the end of the day it is a lift-serviced ski resort and it makes no sense to have a wide abundance of terrain that is harder to patrol and less accessible to skiers without lifts. For a more backcountry experience, the Independence area is still available.

      Upgrading Peru makes as much sense to me as upgrading Wayback. They are both lifts that get very crowded primarily at one time of day (beginning of the day for Peru, end of the day for Wayback) and I think Peru got upgraded first because of the ski school moving to Mountain House and it has more hours. Wayback will get its long due upgrade within the next few years.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Donald Reif December 16, 2019 / 12:38 pm

        Keystone, despite having more acreage than Breck, feels way smaller than Breck, and that is partially due to having a smaller lift system that doesn’t get to any of its bowl terrain. Breck feels bigger than Keystone because it has more lift-serviced terrain. And unlike Keystone’s high-alpine bowls, Breck has four lifts dedicated to servicing bowl terrain: Lift 6, the T-Bar, the Imperial Express SuperChair, and the Kensho SuperChair.

        Not to mention that Breck has it where you usually have multiple routes to get from one place to another, like you can always use Snowflake as an alternative to the Peak 8 SuperConnect when moving from Peak 9 to Peak 8, the Mercury and Beaver Run SuperChairs provide you options when doing laps on Peak 9, same with the Colorado and Rocky Mountain SuperChairs on Peak 8, and the Independence SuperChair and the infill high speed quad that will be supplementing it next year.

        You don’t get that at Keystone. At Keystone, too much of the mountain kinda hinges on choke points where everyone funnels through. The Summit House at the top of Dercum Mountain is one such point. Another such point is the Mozart blue run, which is rather difficult to ski down since it’s often the only trail open to get from Dercum Mountain to North Peak (if Diamondback is open and groomed, I’ll go for that instead), and I believe people generally take that rather than use the Outpost Gondola. And as you’ve pointed out, the Wayback lift as the only means of egress from the Outback means it gets slammed at lunch time and at the end of the day.

        So both upgrades make sense. A high speed six pack on the Peru Express will certainly be well suited towards new development happening at the Mountain House base, as well as accommodate relocated ski school facilities and also maybe siphon away some of the skier traffic that normally starts at River Run. A high speed quad replacing Wayback would certainly alleviate crowding at that lift during the lunch rush and end of the day and maybe encourage people to use Spillway and Anticipation as trails for lapping rather than just as means of accessing the Outback Express lift.

        And the Bergman Express lift would certainly do wonders to redistribute skiers across the mountain by giving people another pod of trails to do laps on. Though I do think it would slam Prospector (the trail from the Outpost back to Labonte’s Cabin) with more traffic, since that seems to be the primary means of egress on the proposal; although the map does show another run going directly from the top of the Bergman Express back directly to the Outpost, as well as black trails in Erickson Bowl to allow direct access to the Outback Express lift.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. powderforever45 December 16, 2019 / 3:02 pm

    What about that Independence Bowl fixed grip? I could see them building that after they build this.

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    • Donald Reif December 17, 2019 / 11:12 am

      I’d say Keystone might built Bergman Express, then wait a year or two before deciding if a triple chairlift is worth installing in Independence Bowl.

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  4. CoSkier December 16, 2019 / 4:08 pm

    Mixed feelings about this. As a current skier of Bergman bowl, I do like the relative untouched nature of the bowl that requires a sub 1 mile hike. And the skin up gets the heart rate going. What i do like is the new trails below treeline in the bowl, as right now it’s half great bowl skiing and half trail through trees skiing, which isn’t so fun. However, there might be some benefits here for those that like to earn there turns. In the map above, the yellow/orange would be the new hiking routes.

    Easier access now to the main part of Erickson (still requires a hike), but even better is less of a hike to get to the good stuff in Independence bowl. Prior to the Independence lift being installed, you’ll need to hike back out, which should greatly limit the number of people using this bowl. So for me, my primary use of this lift will be to shorten my hike to Independence bowl, so I’ll take it.

    Really curious as to the implementation. Here’s hoping for construction in summer 2021, but that’s likely aggressive.

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    • Donald Reif December 16, 2019 / 4:33 pm

      On the other hand, that’s terrain that could easily be used to redistribute skiers from other parts of the mountain and adding a lift would turn Bergman Bowl into Keystone’s equivalent of what Breckenridge skiers have with Peak 6. When Peak 6 opened, crowding was alleviated on the rest of Breck’s peaks because skier traffic was redistributed.

      Bergman Bowl receiving lift service would probably be considered by most as an expansion project, because when you only look at lift-serviced terrain, Keystone really falls far behind both Breckenridge and Copper Mountain. About a third of the mountain’s trails are hiking-access only,

      Liked by 1 person

    • Skiz December 16, 2019 / 5:14 pm

      Put in new berghman express, upgrade wayback, and relocate fixed way back to independence and/or windows fixed grips

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  5. fritzski December 16, 2019 / 8:24 pm

    I was told Peru is already designed to accomodate a six person chair, so it will only be a matter of installing new chairs. So there would be no possibility of relocating that lift.

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    • Donald Reif December 16, 2019 / 9:45 pm

      The lift was clearly built to quad gauge:

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  6. skitheeast December 17, 2019 / 7:14 pm

    I think there is a fair shot this lift gets built this upcoming offseason. Vail published a press release about this proposal, which they have not done for past projects when they were more than one year out. Also, I would not be surprised to see Peru’s parts used for this lift like Montezuma for Red Buffalo, which would further encourage a build this offseason.

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    • Donald Reif December 17, 2019 / 7:55 pm

      If that’s the case, then it’s likely that Keystone will be going with Doppelmayr for both projects: the Peru Express lift and the Bergman Express lift.

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    • Donald Reif December 17, 2019 / 8:07 pm

      In the Bergman Express lift’s case, the old Peru Express would have the right number of towers. It looks like the proposed lift alignment is approximately 5,700 feet long. Which would amount to somewhere around 20 towers and 120 chairs.

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