A New Chairlift in Delta Bowl? Survey Says – Yes!
by Martinique Davis
Nov 17, 2010 | 2936 views | 20 20 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Telski Says It Will Wait to Draft It's Master Plan Until After Mountain Village Completes Its Comprehensive Plan

MOUNTAIN VILLAGE – A year ago, Telluride Ski and Golf Co. embarked upon a daunting task: Find out what the community envisioned for the future of its ski resort.

The year-long push to engage the community in discussing future development on the ski area included five public meetings and two online surveys, seeking a rough idea of what most people want to see happen on Telluride’s slopes, in both the winter and summer. Zip lines? A chairlift in Delta Bowl? The results of Telluride Ski and Golf’s Vision 2025 survey are in, and the survey says yes (to a chairlift in Delta Bowl, at least.)

Right now, Telluride Ski and Golf’s CEO Dave Riley says, maybe.

“We’re not going to make any final decisions until the Town of Mountain Village finalizes its Comprehensive Master Planning process,” Riley said Tuesday, referring to the comprehensive planning process Mountain Village began more than two years ago and tentatively slated to wrap up by the beginning of 2011.

“This is important because the Village and the ski area need to balance.”

The impetus to discover just what kinds of things visitors and community members want to see happen on Telluride’s slopes evolved out of the need to update the ski resort’s Master Development Plan, as requested by the U.S. Forest Service.

Telluride Ski Area Master Plan hadn’t been updated since 1999.

According to survey results, which were posted on Telluride Ski and Golf’s website this week, concepts like lifts into Ophir and Silverton didn’t have much traction (the majority of respondents rated those as “not important.”) The idea of a chairlift into Delta Bowl, however, garnered significant support: More than 84 percent of the 1,868 people who took the Delta Bowl-specific online survey (which ran October 22 to November 12) said they supported construction of a new lift in Delta Bowl.

Delta Bowl is located directly east of Gold Hill Summit, which is south/southeast of Revelation Bowl. If constructed, a new surface lift would run from just above the top of the Revelation Lift to Gold Hill Summit, providing access to intermediate and advanced terrain.

Construction of this new lift would necessitate an expansion of the ski-area boundary. According to the Telluride Ski and Golf Delta Bowl survey, however, construction of this new lift could be completed “without significant impact.” All of the proposed terrain is above tree-line, so no trees would need to be cut. A summer service road is already built to the top terminal location, and an old mining road exists to the lower terminal location, thus requiring a minimum of earthwork during construction. Underground power already exists nearby, at the top of the Revelation Lift. Lift tower installation could be completed via helicopter.

“I was aware of strong support for the Delta Bowl lift, but 84 percent in favor surprised me,” Riley admitted.

Other concepts floated to the public over the last year receiving positive feedback included adding more small on-mountain restaurants, like Alpino Vino; expanding ski terrain and adding more summer trails, all the while maintaining a high-quality, low-volume ski experience. On this note, Riley has indicated that the ski resort is seriously considering limiting ticket sales during peak times, as does Deer Valley.

Riley stresses, however, that the ski area’s Master Plan is still very much in its formative phase, with no plans to move it forward until the Mountain Village comes up with its own Master Plan. In a letter sent out to all Mountain Village property owners this week, Riley wrote: “The Town’s process will influence the ski company’s design and development – because the two must balance in regards to comfortable carrying capacity and economic sustainability.”

When the Ski Company does come up with a draft Master Development Plan, Riley says citizens can expect another flurry of public meetings and online surveys taking comment on the draft MDP before finalizing it and turning it into the US Forest Service.

The complete Vision 2025 survey results are now posted on the Telluride Ski Resort website, www.telluridevision2025.com.

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FaceOnMars
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November 21, 2010
YDS: yes, untamed powder and natural environment (or at least as close to it as possible) do go hand in hand. It's not coincidence, it's a fact (call it #5 if you wish).

I'm not making any statistical claims to support my position .... so I guess you have to attack my motives vs. addressing the point blank contention I had made that the survey is not representational of the greater population of U.S. citizens & has it's own narrowly defined bounds. You can dance around this however you wish, it doesn't escape the statistical reality of the situation. Again, statistics 101.

I've also stated time and time again that I have no conduit to what is absolutely wright or wrong, but I do know what I know when I see it & development is more often than not a one way street.

It's not simply speaking up for landscape, but for citizens (and future generations to come) who currently enjoy access to an unfettered Bear Creek - residing mostly in the public domain & is free of the control of a private entity. I suppose the prospect of adding more "inventory" of the most primo real estate in the area is just a matter of taste/opinion? No, I believe it's corporate welfare at the expense of the greater good.

YouDon'tSay?
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November 21, 2010
Readers, if there are any left, are getting tired of the back and forth so this will be my last comment on this thread. BUT FOM: just who is being disingenuous here? Isn't it just a tad disingenuous for you to claim to be speaking for the precious, mute landscape and NOT out of self interest. Apparently it is mere coincidence that your self-interest (skiing the powder) and the landscape's alleged interest in remaining unspoiled just HAPPEN to be aligned? Or do you assert a spiritual connection to the landscape that those soulless creatures who prefer lift-served skiing just can't fathom?

What I find difficult to accept is your consistent assertion that there is an absolute right or wrong at bottom here. I believe there are conflicting values and tastes and to characterize some of those values and tastes as manifestly superior - and on what basis? -just flat out rubs me wrong.

That's it. i'm finished until the next round!
FaceOnMars
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November 21, 2010
YDS: not looking for a "win" for myself, but rather an area which many folks who experience it understand that is it is special.

Someone has to speak up for that which can not speak.

I realize you may feel there's some sort of mandate based on this survey, but I suppose that's the nature of myopic reasoning. How to put it another way? Ask beer/wine drinkers about new beverages, the response will be "what kind" or "how much" vs. "nothing at all" (vs. if you ask a member of MADD). The statistical principles of representational sample sizes of a population are taught in statistics 101 ... please revisit. This is my point.

Again, I understand everyone has their perspective ... and everyone is entitled to such; however, I make no representation that I am speaking for anyone else nor do I claim that numbers are supporting me either. I believe it is somewhat disingenuous to make such sweeping claims on stats which are not representative of a larger population vs. a very narrow sub-population which shares similar special interests.

I don't believe I've missed your point, I simply adamantly disagree ... although I respect your wish to have lift access to areas which you may have otherwise not ventured on your own accord.

As an aside, I would like to give a thumbs up to Seth for requiring registration for posting comments ... it makes for a much more unfettered forum!

YouDon'tSay?
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November 21, 2010
FOM: You totally missed my point, but I guess it serves me right for being snarky rather than direct. Point is that ANYONE can cherry pick "facts" and "beliefs" to support his position. My sense is that you are driven by a combination of self-interest and ideology and your rationalist argumentation is a smokescreen. Bottom line is that you like skiing Bear Creek the way it is and don't want to see it change. Nobody else's facts or beliefs are going to change your mind. You declare that I'm fighting an uphill battle, but actually you are on the short end of the stick, because the only way for you to win is to demonstrate that there are more back country skiers than intermediates who favor lifts and/or that backcountry powder is a rarer commodity than lift served terrain and/or that there are unsupportable public costs to a proposed expansion. Good luck with any of that.

My guess is that specious arguments about bumps versus powder or ski area management practices aren't going to cut it.
FaceOnMars
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November 20, 2010
YouDontSay: I realize you're fighting an uphill battle, but I'll give you an A for effort ... since what you're arguing for is the equivalent of ALREADY having a few great pieces of corn on the cob and demanding that they all be ground up and turned into "cream of corn" and fed to us via feeding tubes in a middle age geriatric ward of non-risk under the guise of some sort of culinary adventure.

Your first "fact" is relatively true, but there is always a risk (recall the in bounds slide at a-basin on the pali lift a few years ago).

Your second so-called "fact" is false. I suppose we could agree to disagree on where backcountry begins and ends, but the bottom line is that you'll be creaming the corn on EXISTING PRIMO backcountry terrain. See my first three facts as to what happens to powder when a lift is placed in an area which never had one previously. Yeah, you could go further out a bit more easily, but it's not like you couldn't get there already with a little footwork ... earning your turns is a backcountry mantra which seems to elude your underlying premise.

Personally, I LOVE bumps ... and I snowboard ... but I have too say that one of Telluride's existing strong suits is wide array of steep long stustained bump runs. One of my other pet peeves (for years here) has been the grooming of runs which would otherwise never been groomed at another resort. Apparently, the bean counters have determined the target market demands more "advanced intermediate" terrain so the machines roll and the deisel is burned & burned & burned. It's almost laughable to read about the "green energy" credits which offset the power to run lift 4 when the mountain is constantly under assault in effort to shape it to the preferred countour of those who are ABLE to fork up almost a 100 beans for a lift ticket per day! Whatever happend to leaving the skier's left side of plunge ungroomed? Or, skier's right on Bushie? (not that either run would be groomed on other mountains in the first place).

Your belief 1: people understand the current risks of entering the BC gate. I realize some people want to be able to leave the gate and have no risk, but there's ALWAYS a risk. To me, there seems to be some sort of sense of entitlement for those unwilling to learn the proper backcountry skills to access said terrain and have a "quasi adventure" by paying a higher price for control work. It's an interesting paradox, since this sort of "envy" (lack of a better word) seems to be creating a situation where the actual adventure dissappears in the quest to make it easier to obtain for those who are unwilling to accept the adventure on it's own terms (i.e. hoping for that great corn on the cobb, but in reality you're stuck with cream of corn in the end). As far as opening up outlying terrain in an expeditious manner, yes, I agree that oodles of $$$ could be thrown at it & it could open up a lot quicker ... but that increases operational costs and theoretically lift access fees. Again, we'd be on route to excluding more average U.S. Citizens (which apparently doesn't bother you).

Your Belief 2: Telluride is extra-ordinary IN SPITE OF ALL OF US!!!!!! It's no simple highway, nor was it constructed by the hands of man ... this is now my FACT 4! (btw, would still be able to hike out the gate into bc without a gh lift)

Your Belief 3: did you ever stop to consider that maybe Bear Creek exists independently of the ski area and that folks currently have access to what is currently an unspoiled swath of public land and don't have to fork over almost $100 to access it? I'll certainly concede that marketing objectives are legitimate when the stewardship of the highest and best use of public lands isn't subverted.

I've long accepted that for each and every individual, there's a different perspective on the mountain; however, we're dealing with public land & an extremely rare & unique section thereof. I don't believe this threshold has been met.
YouDon'tSay?
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November 19, 2010
Fact 1: more skier traffic makes an area safer to ski by compressing avalanche-prone snow.

Fact 2: new lifts tend to create more access to back country where powder may be found.

Fact 3: some skiers love bumps and even prefer it to powder.

Belief 1: the ability of a ski company to open terrain is not a fixed reality but a situation subject to changes in management. What today's management does or does not do may or may not be what tomorrow's management does or does not do. Moreover, opening terrain after a storm in a managed way may save lives.

Belief 2: If Telluride today is in fact extraordinary it is THANKS TO the last expansion, not in spite of it. And more expansion may make it all the more extraordinary.

Belief 3. Marketing objectives are legitimate since successful tourism supports the local economy. The naturally occurring gem may be made more accessible to more people by lift access, which is precisely the opposite of elitist. Limiting access to the gem to the few with the skills and desire to ski back country is in fact elitist at the expense of the wider skiing public.

FaceOnMars
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November 19, 2010
It would be great if there was a place here where we could pin up a permanent FAQ here such as:

Fact 1: a lift will invariably bring more skier traffic to an area which previously did not have a lift.

Fact 2: said area will no longer hold fresh snow (aka "powder") as long as it had previously without a lift due to increased skier activity.

Fact 3: hard moguls will form under most lifts with sufficiently steep terrain where they typically would not have without the increased traffic levels.

Belief 1: I would like to treat it as fact, but am careful not to ruffle any feathers: the ski area often does not open a lot of the newer terrain immediately after a big storm ... my estimation is due to a lack of sufficient resources (no fault of patrol) to do so in manner which is as timely as the rest of the mountain.

Belief 2: The current "sidecountry" setup of Bear Creek IS what CURRENTLY makes Telluride one of the most unique & extra ordinary places to ski / snowboard. There is almost a perfect balance of expert lift served & hike to controlled terrain accompanied by a natural adventure in the form of Bear Creek.

Belief 3: the addition of a lift into BC serves no other purpose other than a marketing objective at the expense of a naturally occurring gem. Moreover, I believe this objective is targeted to a very elite (economically speaking) population.
YouDon'tSay?
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November 19, 2010
I am pretty confident that lift-served skiing in BC would be absolutely extraordinary and would indeed make Telluride unique in all the world. Perhaps this is where the difference of opinion lies. How big a deal would Delta Bowl and more be? I think: VERY BIG. Face apparently thinks, not so much.

It is interesting that one never really knows how someplace will actually ski after lifts are put in. There were plenty of naysayers who said nobody would be able to ski Prospect because it's too flat. Well, that was clearly wrong. Intermediates love it. Others predicted that the GH lift would destroy the best thing about Telluride. Wrong again! People still love to ski Electra and Little Rose, etc. All that GH and Prospect did is open up far MORE backcountry.

Look at Revelation as another example. The bowl itself is a bit ho-hum, although upper intermediates love it. But did anyone anticipate it would open up the GH Chutes?

Is Telluride really worse in any way since the last expansion? Nope. It's better. Way better. Bear Creek would be the same. Better.

FaceOnMars
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November 19, 2010
Until there's a neutral third party survey, I believe it's irresponsible to claim there is a conclusive minority ... let alone a small minority ... however, I understand the need to push the PR ... even though you claim not to have any feelings one way or the other.

Do you REALLY believe an expansion into Bear Creek will add something which doesn't already exist here which will push us over the edge in terms of beauty or unique attributes?

Sorry, it's clearly an issue of diminishing returns ... akin to turning up the volume to 10 when it's been on 9 for a while, you're not going to notice the difference. Moreover, it's not going to be a tipping point to sell more lift tickets. If anything, a major capital expenditure will only increase the cost of lift access.
Matthew4u
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November 19, 2010
Hi Face, yes, I understand your point of view, which is why I am still neutral on Delta. I was blown away by 84% in favor.

As I see it, if Delta was built, it probably would make T-ride clearly the best ski resort in the world, even better than Chamonix, and certainly better than any other ski resort in the US, I think the locals understand this.

Yes, you are correct, the march of progress can be daunting at times.

It's ironic, the small minority who are against Delta, probably would be first in line to ski it once it opens - again, what can you do? Warmest regards, M
FaceOnMars
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November 18, 2010
m4u: I was talking about the survey being a fair representation of the greater U.S. population as a whole. I highly doubt the sample selection process hardly had the guidance of such an objective, but I could be mistaken.

Not so sure it's as simplistic as you put it in your first post, not by a long shot.

There's no superiority complex which I've encountered, maybe folks are simply jaded by all of the inches given which turned into miles on many fronts. By the same token, those were hard fought miles from the other perspective. Never claimed to know what is absolutely right or wrong, but I do know that development into unique/rare/beautiful areas is typically a one way road and there's no going back.

Bear Creek has no business going down that road ... many share this perspective.

Matthew4u
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November 18, 2010
Hi Responsible, yes I agree, in High School I would buy half day tickets at Squaw Valley at Lake Tahoe for $8 at the window. The lifts were rusty and sometimes would go backwards out of control so you had to jump off before being killed.

Joe Alioto, a lawyer, and, the Mayor of San Francisco, his daughter was injured at Squaw, on a backwards running chair lift, and, he sued for $$$$$ damages, and now ski tickets cost and arm and a leg. The fault is with the lawyers. Sometimes I hate lawyers (having been to law school, I can say that :-)

T-ride has a stay and ski package deal for $100/day; fair enough, but I really want to stay at the Capella and even the rooms in the back are pretty pricey $600, and Cosmos at the bar cost $12 with tips and tax, and my wife wants 3 each time; which is a lot, even for a work-a-holic like me - I do not practice law by the way, as, it is beneith my dignity. Warmest regards, M4u
ResponsibleFreePress
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November 18, 2010
Welcome Delta Bowl-tangent, little environmental degradation, significant local support, friendly NFS over in Norwood-

The only issue is pricing-Telluride is pretty expensive to stay at, ski at, eat lunch at...very few people can afford to live our life of luxury here in Telluride.

Is this the best use of public land with such high end pricing?

Ok, Good luck, see you on DB.
Matthew4u
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November 18, 2010
Hi YouDSay; yes, you are correct. Its about the $$.

Personally I would like to see a lift to the top of Palmyra built first; and to see Baldy opened up; Delta is ultimately a cost/benfit analysis.

It costs about $2.5 million to build a chair lift, that is 2,777 season passes at $900 each; the breakeven is measured in multiple years. I am not going to hold my breath on the Delta issue, it is years away, at best. Warmest regards. M4u.
YouDon'tSay?
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November 18, 2010
So what about that smug air of moral superiority put on by some in the "no lifts" crowd? Is there not an equal moral argument for making public lands more accessible?

This won't be about who has the morally superior position. It won't be about whether a particular survey is fair or accurate. The discussion will not be about whether there are more back country skiers or more skiers who use lifts. If there is a further discussion, and that is ultimately up to the ski company, it will be about whether the measurable costs of a proposed expansion are justified by the measurable benefits. So partisans, start measuring!
Matthew4u
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November 18, 2010
Hi, personally, I have no opinion on Delta, but come on guys, the survey was perfectly representative and fair, and the result was truly overwhelming; let's not insult anyone's intelligence here with specious reasoning such as highest and best use, or an unrepresentative survey et. al., those arguments are just childish at this point.

To the very small minority who do not want a lift in the Delta Bowl, you will just have to accept it, such is life. T-Ride is a ski town; what can you do? Sorry to those who do not like to ski, but there is no sense in crying about it. If you hate ski lifts, why did you move to T-ride?

There are 20 other places just like Delta, with no lifts, so what is the big deal?

Part of being an adult is to learn to share, you cannot keep all the marbles for yourselves.

Again, I have no opinion on Delta myself, but the people have spoken; it just is what it is, let's move on.

FaceOnMars
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November 18, 2010
YouDon'tSay: I'm glad you agree the survey is not representative of the larger population.

It's kind of funny that you mention "this decision" ... as if there's some sort of urgency that requires *something* to be done vs. simply letting nature be what it is. There's no decision until there's a proposal submitted to the NFS. Currently, we're just in the "floating" stage, remember?

What is not funny is that the survey was most likely completely by a majority of individuals who have purchased a lift ticket or pass from the ski company at either 90 some odd dollars a crack or $1000 for a pass per season. Why should these people have ANY more say so over how public lands are utilized vs. those who are effectively excluded due to the price barrier? Then to publicize this as if "the people have spoken" is laughable in my opinion.

However, if you must consider backcountry/sidecountry users to the actual available respective terrain within the actual existing boundaries ... I believe you are sorely mistaken. Remember, we have powder hour here at Telluride ... it's gone after noon! Why do you want to take it away from those who have the ability to get it? If ANYTHING, Telluride is currently top heavy with expert steep hike to terrain, proportionately speaking.

YouDon'tSay?
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November 18, 2010
Exactly right, FOM. Why should the very narrow segment of the public that favors backcountry skiing be the ones to make this decision? If you only ask backcountry skiers what they think, well, geez, what a surprise! No lift. I agree, we need to consider the interests of the broad public, not a tiny special-interest group, like backcountry skiers.
FaceOnMars
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November 18, 2010
So if the MGM in Vegas emailed all of their hotel guests a survey asking for their input on a prospective new wing, it wouldn't be a question of "yes or no" ... but rather "how big" & "what's in it for me, the gambler?".

Let's not take our eye of the ball folks, Bear Creek is mostly United States National Forest land ... the ski area boundary happens to be adjacent. Proximity is not an entitlement, nor is the fact that winter sports drives a local economy as some sort of mandate to expand.

No, the HIGHEST AND BEST USE ought to be considered for all Americans ... not a narrow & niche high end high yield portion of a relatively small market.

Let's think of the summer hiker or winter snowshoer, or maybe even a bear who is hibernating in the winter.

Moreover, if there is a highest and best use which involves skiing/snowboard, then why ought it be lift served? For that matter, if guided service is truly a highest and best use, then why ought Telski be given precedence or a leg up over all other outfits? Why not open up guided services to any outfit who qualifies.

Let's start thinking outside of the box canyon!



MV_Resident
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November 18, 2010
It would be nice if someone could help explain the survey as it seems pretty hard to me to understand what all of those mixed results mean.

If the survey was valid, of those surveyed whom I would GUESS are all previous Telluride Skiers most say they would like a lift in Delta. Should that be interpreted to mean that it is also what the public wants and that it is in the best interest of the Forest? What proportion of current skiing customers would use it?

Needless to say, growth at the top of the mountain likely requires improved capacity getting skiers up there in the morning and down at night?

I guess it is logical to say that if the ski area wants to grow and will truly pay for the growth itself then it is a good thing for winter business, property values, etc.?