Bergman Bowl Project Moves Forward at Keystone

Being the first Front Range mountain to open wasn’t the only great news for Keystone Resort this morning. The White River National Forest also released a Draft Decision Notice paving the way for construction of the mountain’s seventh high speed chairlift. The lift will service 555 acres of alpine terrain in Bergman and Erickson bowls, delivering up to 2,400 skiers per hour to an altitude of 12,300 feet. The project also includes 20 acres of new snowmaking, expansion of the Outpost restaurant and a ski patrol station atop Bergman Bowl.

The White River hosts the most skiing of any National Forest and staff worked closely with Keystone to minimize environmental impacts. The lift’s bottom terminal, towers and access roads were shifted from initial locations to reduce impacts on wetlands. Required glading was also reduced by 19 acres and tree clearing by 10 acres to lessen pressure on Canada lynx.

Project approval is subject to a 45 day objection period. Assuming everything is still a go, Vail Resorts could opt to start building as soon as next summer. Keystone’s parent company had planned to replace the Peru Express this year, a project awarded to Leitner-Poma but delayed by the coronavirus. Vail also postponed construction of new lifts at Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Crested Butte. If the ski season now underway is successful, the Bergman Bowl Express could be one of a bunch of new lifts in Colorado over the next few years.


32 thoughts on “Bergman Bowl Project Moves Forward at Keystone

  1. Donald Reif November 6, 2020 / 4:00 pm

    If Keystone wants to make a real splash, they should do both projects at once.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Donald Reif November 6, 2020 / 4:05 pm

    Could be a real question as to whether Keystone gives Bergman to Leitner-Poma just like the Peru Express, or to Doppelmayr (since all of the existing quads are Doppelmayr as well). Then there’s the question of whether they cannibalize the existing Peru Express as parts for the Outback Express, or maybe it gets used for Bergman and gets a Shedhorn 4 style makeover as a means of saving money.


  3. jaytrem November 6, 2020 / 4:23 pm

    Wayback Express on the map, hmmmm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Myles Svec November 7, 2020 / 3:28 pm

      I thought I was the only one who noticed that. I wonder if that is just a typo or is hinting towards a Wayback Express which is needed to improve traffic flow.


      • Thomas Jett November 7, 2020 / 5:07 pm

        Probably a typo. I’d imagine that they just copy-pasted the map from the master plan and then made changes to that. So the remembered to recolor Outback, but forgot to rename it.


  4. Jonathan November 6, 2020 / 7:45 pm

    I think it would be safe to say that Peru will be cannibalized for parts for Outback. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the chairs and towers get re-used for Beaver Creek’s new lifts. I think Bergman will go to Leitner Poma as their equipment costs less to maintain and Vail will get a better deal on the lift since they are already buying a lot of equipment from them.


    • pbropetech November 9, 2020 / 10:51 am

      Curious where your insight comes from. Peru and Outback are quite similar in age but sometimes it makes more sense to replace parts with new, especially when one plans to keep the lift around (I haven’t heard how long Outback is staying but I haven’t heard it’s going, either). BC did repurpose parts of Montezuma, true, but they may not with Peru now that it’s a few years older. As for maintenance costs, we have a roughly equal amount of both manufacturers here at Copper and though I don’t write the checks, my experience is that they’re fairly similar in maintenance costs. $0.02

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Ryan November 7, 2020 / 12:24 am

    How about updating Argentine and A51?


  6. Ryan November 7, 2020 / 12:25 am

    I can’t wait to ski that area!!!


  7. Andrew Casali November 7, 2020 / 8:00 am

    We all know that terain had always been rideable you just had to walk up. Think it was better that way, the quiet way to get to the very back of the resort. Kinda hate to see em glade out all those beautiful old growth forests in the bottom of the bowl. Isn’t there enough beginners terrain there already?


    • Donald Reif November 7, 2020 / 10:59 am

      This won’t have any beginner terrain in it. The intention is to add lift service to Bergman Bowl, which technically “expands” the resort by increasing the amount of terrain that is accessible via chairlift. Keystone may have the largest acreage of the three big Summit County ski areas, but it still feels “smaller” than Copper Mountain and Breckenridge because the Keystone bowl terrain is not lift accessible, whereas Copper’s and Breck’s bowls are. This will also serve a similar function to why Breck expanded to Peak 6 in 2013, giving intermediate high alpine terrain and a better means of distributing skier traffic in the areas behind Dercum Mountain.


      • Randy November 7, 2020 / 1:11 pm

        The map above does show beginner terrain. Runs 16-8 and 16-10


        • Donald Reif November 7, 2020 / 2:32 pm

          Who knows if they’ll stay designated as beginner runs? They might very well be designated as blues to deter beginners from traveling over in the same way that Aspen Highlands recently redesignated all of their green trails as blue to force beginners to go to Buttermilk.


  8. Donald Reif November 7, 2020 / 10:17 am

    This is about better distributing skier traffic, and making the resort “larger” by increasing the amount of lift serviced terrain.


    • Chris Clay November 7, 2020 / 11:09 am

      No more snowkiting in Bergmann bowl once this lift goes up. What a shame. Just like Andrew says it’s better without the lift. Independence Mt will be easier to get to know but I really enjoyed the snowkite tour across the alpine to Independence. Hopefully they will still let me kite the top section of the bowl above the lift or at least launch my kite there for that easy access to Indy I mentioned.


      • Donald Reif November 7, 2020 / 11:31 am

        Crowd distribution is more important than protecting powder junkies’ stashes.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ryan Murphy November 7, 2020 / 5:34 pm

          I think that strongly depends on what mountain you are refering to. At somewhere like Keystone, which is primarily an intermediate and tourist mountain, you’re probably right.

          That equation is completely different at other mountains. Places like Targhee and Alta would probably pull your pass for suggesting that. Taos (Kachina) and Jackson (Teton) locals also have a right to whine about those chairs IMO. High quality snow and the terrain to ski it is so quintessential to the indentity of so many mountains, that anything to compromise it is sacreligious.

          Take Bridger Bowl, my local mountain, for example. It does need some additional capacity, and doesn’t have a ton of great expansion options, due to avalanche condidtions on Saddle Peak (past Schlasman’s), and the elevation lower on the mountain. The patrol poma could hypothetically be opened to the public. That hike is around 20 minutes (straight up…), and from there, you need to continue hiking to ski anything but the top part of the Sluice Box. But it will never happen. Part of it is how ridiculous the Ridge is, but another part is that the hike simply preserves snow really well. You can find quality snow on a quality line weeks after a storm if you work for it. This is less the case over by Schlasman’s, where even the hike to terrain (about 5-10 mins, depending on the line, but it’s not straight up either) gets tracked out much faster.

          You can argue that you should just ski the backcountry if you want great snow well after storms, but the “security” the resort provides shouldn’t be overlooked. Some days, you can’t find a partner. Some days, it’s just too dangerous to ski out of bounds. Sometimes, you just want to ski alone. Maybe you want to rip some groomers after the powder run.

          My point being, there is a place for inbounds hike to terrain, and you can’t always justify a lift simply in the name of crowd distribution. Sorry for the essay.


        • Donald Reif November 7, 2020 / 8:47 pm

          At Keystone, the need for crowd distribution is even more paramount since this mountain has way too many funnel and chokepoints, especially off Dercum Mountain.


        • Myles Svec November 8, 2020 / 12:30 pm

          Yea also at Steamboat all the locals were complaining about Pioneer runs being cut. Also they do not want a lift to be put there. The reason behind this is high quality backcountry terrain.


    • G v January 16, 2021 / 12:59 am

      Well, we found the shoebie. If you can’t earn your turns, too bad for you. What’s next, clear cutting the windows and adding a surface lift to the knob?


      • Donald Reif January 16, 2021 / 8:07 am

        Keystone desperately needs to redistribute crowds and spread them out more. This was at least partially why Breckenridge expanded onto Peak 6. Hell, Vail installed the High Noon Express ten years ago partially with crowd redistribution in mind (the idea being that those who can ski black runs are encouraged to ski down Sun Up Bowl and use the High Noon Express to return to the central Front Side, siphoning some traffic away from the Northwoods Express.

        It’s a bigger deal for Keystone since while they technically have more acreage than Breckenridge, the mountain feels a lot smaller because none of the high alpine bowls are lift serviced, unlike Breck where the Kensho SuperChair and Imperial Express SuperChair provide access to the majority of the bowl terrain.


      • skitheeast January 16, 2021 / 9:12 am

        The terrain is in-bounds at a resort that has a one-day lift ticket priced well above $100. Hiking should not be necessary to access its pristine, non-expert terrain. I hike up and ski backcountry almost every spring and can assure you that there is more terrain available in Colorado for you to earn your turns outside of resort boundaries than there is combined acreage of the state’s ski areas. However, if you still crave that backcountry hike within the bounds of a ski resort, there are mountains that cater to this and are priced accordingly, including Silverton and neighboring A-Basin.

        Liked by 1 person

        • G V March 6, 2021 / 9:27 pm

          I’m sorry for calling Don a shoebie. That was uncalled for. I’m very upset of the idea of this lift and I took it out on him. As far as a basin being a backcountry experience, everything inbounds at abasin is more easily accessible and tracked out much more quickly than Bergman, erickson’s and Indy. Montezuma is fun for an hour tops after a rope drop. The Gullies are consistently scraped clean from people ridding them in a snow plow position. I do really like the bald spot though.

          I guess being a resort, I shouldn’t get so bent out of shape that keystone is going to cater to resort folk. I just feel the same way about this lift as I imagine countless other locals would feel about Loveland and abasin building hotels at their bases. It would ruin part of what makes them what they are. I suppose I just need to forget about buying a pass and do nothing but backcountry riding/skiing.


        • Donald Reif March 7, 2021 / 8:00 am

          Bringing Bergman Bowl lift service has the additional benefit of getting Keystone to the same position as Breckenridge and Copper Mountain in having lift-serviced bowl terrain.


  9. Doug Brown November 7, 2020 / 3:55 pm

    I’ve only skied Keystone once and while Berman and Erickson looked appealing from a terrain perspective, they also looked prone to wind scour. How would the bowls at Keystone compare snow wise to Independence and Peak6 at Breckenridge?


    • Donald Reif January 16, 2021 / 7:59 am

      I would say that Bergman Bowl getting green runs reminds me a bit of what happened to the Badlands area at Mount Hood Meadows when the Vista Express went in (going from off-piste terrain to lift-serviced beginner and intermediate terrain).


  10. CoSkier November 7, 2020 / 4:34 pm

    This should actually be good news for people that like to hike and earn their turns. Bergman Bowl was okay hike to terrain, but the fact is that the annoying Jane’s Journey run through the trees made up well over half of the run. Now you can take the Bergman lift and hike on over to Independence bowl to do laps over there. No real tree runout to deal with and a fun area if the snow is there.

    Also in previous articles I’ve read, it’s always been stated that Bergman Bowl will include beginner terrain. Not surprising considering how low angle the green runs on the new map are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • G V March 6, 2021 / 9:44 pm

      If you don’t want to hit Jane’s journey, stay hard skiers left. Some of the best snow on the mountain and you can almost ride to the creek that separates dercum from north peak. Almost all the other open secret spots were crusted over today. Bergman down to the creek was mostly fluffy.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Nathan November 8, 2020 / 8:42 am

    I’m a big fan of this expansion. The option for intermediate and beginner skiers above timberline is new at Keystone and should appeal to their core market. Advanced skiers get some nice runs that require multiple lifts to lap. That’s a good thing in my mind since advanced skiers can choose from existing easy to lap runs, new two-lift-to-lap runs and still have many hike to runs.

    Any one have any insight into the relative priority of keystone’s two projects as well as the BC and CB projects? I think the CB expansion is the biggest game changer followed by Bergman. But the BC and Peru projects we originally first in line and may remain that way for logistical reasons.


    • CoSkier November 8, 2020 / 10:51 am

      Right now, I doubt even Vail Resorts knows the current priority for Keystone’s projects. Bergman is certainly more capital intensive than Peru, but certainly is a bigger bang for the buck. But if skier numbers and revenues are on the low side this winter, I can certainly see them delaying or only engaging in some of the lower capital projects. VR is probably playing it by ear right now. My preference would be Bergman, Wayback, then Peru, but that’s not happening. One thing is for sure – it they do Bergman and Peru next summer, it shows that VR is very bullish on ski numbers next year and beyond.


      • jcpierce05 November 8, 2020 / 11:18 am

        I wonder where the Outback Surface Lift sits on the priority list? Will they need additional capacity on Outback and Wayback in order for that lift to be installed? Can they even increase capacity on Outback any more? I know it got 24 additional chairs in 2014.

        I am also wondering how the Bergman Bowl Express will affect traffic on the Wayback Lift? Will Wayback stay fixed grip forever to deter people from lapping Erikson Bowl, or will it be upgraded due to increased traffic. I know someone up above noticed that it did say Wayback Express on the plan.


        • CoSkier November 8, 2020 / 7:44 pm

          I’m not sure how many people will loop Erickson. Three expert terrain trails that require a slow trip back up via wayback and then up Bergman again. Every intermediate skier appears to head to Outback, but Bergman now gives an alternative. Honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Outback becomes less crowded, and therefore so does Wayback.

          Right now Wayback is mostly used to get back to the main area from Outback at the end of the day, so people don’t mind the slowness. But when people are going to want to ski both Bergman and Outback during they same day, it will put a lot of pressure on Keystone to upgrade this lift.


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