Breckenridge Ski Resort
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Peaks 8, 9 and 10, seen from the west side of the summit of Dercum Mountain at Keystone Resort
|Location||White River National Forest
Summit County, Colorado, USA
|Nearest city||Breckenridge, Colorado|
|Vertical||3,398 feet (1,036 m)|
|Top elevation||12,998 feet (3,962 m)|
|Base elevation||9,600 feet (2,926 m)|
|Skiable area||2,908 acres (1,177 ha)|
|Longest run||"Four O'Clock" - 3.5 miles (5.6 km)|
|Lift system||32 total (1 gondola, 3 high-speed six-packs, 7 high-speed quads, 1 fixed grip quad, 1 triple chairlift, 6 double chairlifts, 13 surface)|
|Terrain parks||25 acres (10 ha)|
|Snowfall||370 in/year (940 cm/year)|
Breckenridge Ski Resort, or more simply, "Breck", is one of the world's most popular ski resorts, located in the town of Breckenridge, Colorado. The resort is perennially one of the most visited ski resorts in the Western Hemisphere, and is owned and operated by the world's leading ski resort operator, Vail Resorts, Inc., which also operates other ski resorts in Colorado (Vail, Beaver Creek, and Keystone), Utah (Canyons), Michigan (Mt. Brighton), Minnesota (Afton Alps), and California (Heavenly Ski Resort, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, and Northstar at Tahoe at Lake Tahoe).
- 1 Ski resort information
- 2 Lifts
- 3 Dew Tour
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Ski resort information
Breckenridge opened on December 16, 1961. At the time, it consisted only of several trails on Peak 8, including present day trails like Springmeier and Northstar. The main lift was a double chairlift, Lift 1, which had a midway unloading station. Lift 1 ran from the base area up to a point slightly west of the top of the current Colorado SuperChair. This small butte overlooks the Rocky Mountain SuperChair and is accessible by hiking from the Vista Haus along a short dirt road in the summer.
A year later, a double chairlift was installed up the double-black trail Mach One. The lift, later numbered Lift 3, ran from near the present-day Peak 8 SuperConnect's midway load station up to near the top of Lift 5.
In 1965, Lift 1 was supplemented by Lift 2, constructed to serve the south part of Peak 8. A base lodge was also opened on Peak 8, but it was destroyed in an explosion (suspected to be caused by a gas leak) shortly after completion. Breckenridge expanded into high alpine terrain with the construction of a platter lift from near the top of Lift 2 to near the top of the current Lift 6 in 1967.
In 1970, Breckenridge was purchased by the Aspen Skiing Company. From 1970 to 1978, the resort expanded onto Peak 9, opening four double chairlifts (Lift 4, and Lifts B, C, and D) and one triple chairlift (Lift A). Lift A serviced beginner terrain, while Lift C services trails on the north part of the main Peak 9 face. Lift D ran from near the bottom of the Beaver Run SuperChair to near the top of the EpicMix course on Sundown. Lift B ran alongside Cashier, running from the top of the original Quicksilver SuperChair and offloading at the top of the Mercury SuperChair. In 1979, Lift 6 replaced the Peak 8 platter lift. Also in 1979, an Alpine slide was constructed on Peak 8 under Lift 5. The slide is composed of three fiberglass tubes - Lanes "A", "B", and "C". "A" and "B" are for slower and inexperienced riders and run parallel to each other. Lane "C" is for solo, more experienced riders, and follows a significantly different alignment from the other two lanes, with a different arrangement of turns, including the presence of a triple-down drop and one more steep straightaway drop. The Alpine slide has mostly been unchanged since construction, the only alteration being a redesign of the lower section of the layout for both tracks as part of One Ski Hill Place construction in 2009.
Breckenridge and other ski resorts faced a severe drought in the winter of 1980-1981 and installed snowmaking systems the following year. In 1981, Breckenridge installed the world's first high speed detachable quad chairlift, the Quicksilver Quad, running from the Village base area to near the bottom of Lift B. The lift was constructed by Doppelmayr.
In 1983, Riblet constructed Lift E, a double chairlift servicing the north-facing chutes on Peak 9.
In 1984, Doppelmayr constructed the T-Bar, providing access to most of Peak 8's bowl terrain.
In 1985, Breckenridge expanded to Peak 10, with the opening of Lift F, a Poma fixed grip quad. A year later, it was upgraded to a high speed quad and renamed the Falcon SuperChair. Runs on Peak 10 were named by mountain manager Jim Gill after World War II planes, like Crystal, Cimarron, Doublejack and Mustang. The same year the conversion happened, Poma built the Colorado SuperChair, replacing the aging Lift 1.
In the 1987-1988 ski season, Breckenridge topped one million skier visits, as it was sold to Victoria Ltd of Tokyo. Local residents supported the change in ownership, as some believed that the Aspen Skiing Company was exploiting revenue from Breckenridge to support its own four ski areas. Despite Aspen's withdrawal of ownership, some signage can still be found around the mountain that has the same font utilized on Aspen's trail signs, including the lift sign on the Falcon SuperChair's bottom terminal, and a small number of trail signs scattered around Peaks 9 and 10.
Peak 9 continued lift upgrades. In 1990, Poma constructed the Beaver Run SuperChair, replacing Lift D and providing top-to-bottom lift access on Peak 9. The lift is the longest on the mountain, and also has the largest vertical drop of any chairlift. A few of Lift D's towers were retained on the original lift line and are currently used by the ski patrol as a lift evacuation training area. This area can be seen through the trees by riding the Beaver Run SuperChair and looking to the right immediately after the lift crosses under the Peak 8 SuperConnect, or looking to the left while riding the SuperConnect at this same point.
In 1996, Poma constructed the Snowflake double chairlift, providing mountain access for a number of condominium developments off of Four O'Clock Road. The lift has a midway load partway up that provides access from Peak 9 to Peak 8 as an alternative route to the Peak 8 SuperConnect. The highlight of the lift is a complex 45 degree turn just above the midway load station. As the lift runs clockwise, uphill chairs make a simple 45 degree turn, while downhill chairs must make two separate turns and a 315 degree clockwise turn, plus cross over themselves.
In 1997, Lifts 2 and B were removed and replaced with two Poma high speed quads. On Peak 9, the Mercury SuperChair replaced Lift B. The replacement lift runs parallel to the Beaver Run SuperChair, originating just uphill from Lift A to make navigation easier, but ends farther uphill, closer to the top of Lift E. The Mercury SuperChair was not the first lift to use this name, as this name was previously used for the Beaver Run SuperChair before 1993.
On Peak 8, the Rocky Mountain SuperChair was added, making it possible for skiers to access the T-Bar and north Peak 8 trails without needing to take a long catwalk from the Colorado SuperChair. After 2008, it also became an alternate way of transitioning from Peak 8 to the Peak 7 base area in addition to the gondola. In 2013, it also became the primary way to access Peak 6 via Columbine, the Peak 6 Parkway, and the Zendo lift.
In 1998, Ten Mile Station opened at the bottom of the Falcon SuperChair, replacing a restaurant at the top of that lift. By the following year, the eighteen-year-old Quicksilver Quad was beginning to show its age. That year, the world's first high speed quad was replaced with Quicksilver Super6, a high speed six pack. The original quad was relocated to Owl's Head, Quebec, where it still operates. Quicksilver Super6 runs from the Village base area up Silverthorne trail (to the south of Lift A) and ends at Ten Mile Station. It also carries the unique distinction of being North America's first and only double-loading chairlift. The lift has two separate loading areas. An automated rail piece is used to alternate chairs between the two, giving each an even number of chairs. The 'Super6' designation was taken off in 2013 and the lift renamed the Quicksilver SuperChair.
Breckenridge carried out a massive expansion and lift upgrade in 2002, expanding onto Peak 7. It was the largest resort improvement done in Colorado that year. A new pod of intermediate trails with names like Monte Cristo and Lincoln Meadows was cut in the space to the north of Claimjumper and below the cat-track used by skiers to return from Peak 7's bowls. To service the new terrain, Leitner-Poma constructed a second high-speed six pack, the Independence SuperChair.
In addition to Peak 7, Leitner-Poma also built a new high speed quad connecting Peak 9 to Peak 8. The Peak 8 SuperConnect replaced the aging Lift 4 and improved navigation between the two peaks (prior to 2002, transitioning from Peak 9 to Peak 8 required going to the top of Peak 9 and taking a black trail called Shock or a blue run called Union to the bottom of Lift 4). It originates on Peak 9 at the junction of the trails Red Rover and Sundown (just down a hill from Lift A), runs to a midway load and turn station at Lift 4's loading station, then runs up Lift 4's line to the Vista Haus. Construction of the Peak 8 SuperConnect was difficult, as the new lift crosses over two lifts that had existed for years: the Beaver Run SuperChair and Lift C. As a result, the SuperConnect begins with a steep climb out of the bottom loading terminal and several very tall towers in order to cross the former lift. To guarantee that chairs are available for people using the mid-station, a system of automatic loading gates is used. These gates open when the chairs are turning into the loading area and activate a sensor. The gates can also be programmed at the bottom to not open for select chairs at a programmed frequency. Depending on how crowded the resort is, the frequency at which chairs are sent through the bottom terminal empty can be programmed differently by the lift operators: on busy days (like holidays), it generally will be every second or third chair. On less crowded days, this frequency might be every fourth or fifth chair. The midway-load station has gates that are programmed to open when they detect an empty chair coming into the upper terminal.
A big drawback of the Peak 8 alpine bowls from the beginning was that much of the terrain required taking a lengthy 45 minute hike from the top of the T-Bar, rendering them inaccessible for the most part, as this meant people had to endure bitter temperatures and howling winds. In 2005, this problem was alleviated when Leitner-Poma constructed the Imperial Express SuperChair, which beat Loveland's Chair 9 to become the highest chairlift in North America. Originating at the top of Lift 6 and topping out at 12,840 feet, the Imperial Lift services the Imperial Bowl and cut the 45 minute hike to a 3 minute lift ride. The T-Bar was retained, as it provides round-trip access to trails in the Contest Bowl and the area immediately north of it.
In 2006, the BreckConnect Gondola was constructed, improving access from the town to Peak 8 base area. It originates at the transit center off of Park Avenue and Ski Hill Road, and runs up to a first midway turn station at Shock Hill, servicing a condominium development. From here, the gondola runs up to just below Peak 7, where it has a second turn terminal and station, servicing Peak 7 base area, the Crystal Peak Lodge, and the Grand Lodge on Peak 7. The gondola then has a final leg that runs over to Peak 8 base. When it opened, the Peak 7 base area had not yet been developed, and the Peak 7 station merely functioned as a turn terminal.
In 2008, Breckenridge began developing Peak 8 and Peak 7, shifting the main center of activity from Peak 9 to Peak 8, which also emerged as the main entry point to the resort, with the majority of guests now accessing the mountain via the BreckConnect Gondola. From 2008 to 2010, One Ski Hill Place was constructed at Peak 8 base, in between Lift 5 and Lift 7, and OSHP opened to the public for the first time in 2010. The lodge has a new food court facility supplementing the existing infrastructure. Also in 2008, the Crystal Peak Lodge and Grand Lodge on Peak 7 were built at the Peak 7 turn station on the BreckConnect Gondola. To tie the new lodges in to the mountain, the Independence SuperChair's bottom terminal was moved downhill by 540 feet, with an additional lift tower and six additional chairs being added. The lift line above the original bottom terminal remained unchanged. To accommodate the extension, Ski Hill Road immediately north of Peak 8 base was rerouted (it originally switchbacked and crossed Peak 7 just below the Independence SuperChair's original bottom terminal; the new alignment runs parallel to the gondola and then travels around the east side of the Grand Lodge before rejoining the original route).
The 2011–12 ski season marked the ski resort's 50th anniversary season, with the resort implementing a year-long celebration in honor of a half-century since the resort was founded on December 16, 1961.
While no new lifts were built in 2012, the Colorado SuperChair was overhauled, with its original 1986 chairs being replaced by new Leitner-Poma chairs, and a few of its sheave trains were replaced.
In 2013, a long-awaited 543 acre expansion on Peak 6 opened. Peak 6 expanded the resort's in-bounds terrain by 23%, and was the first major expansion at a Colorado ski resort since the construction of the Independence SuperChair and the opening of Peak 7 in 2002. Like in 2002, Leitner-Poma constructed two new chairlifts: the lower lift, a fixed grip quad called Zendo, originates at the bottom of Lincoln Meadows on Peak 7 and runs to a warming hut called Horizons. From here, Peak 6 is reached by the second lift, a high speed six pack called the Kensho SuperChair, which tops at an elevation of 12,302 feet, 300 feet short of the summit of Peak 6. The Kensho SuperChair is the highest high-speed six pack in North America, and also gives Breckenridge the distinction of being the first ski resort in Colorado with more than two six packs (of note, only one other resort in Colorado has more than one high speed six-pack: Winter Park Resort with two). Peak 6's trail and lift names, which reflect a common theme of the resort's Peak 6 branding, "Awaken Your Sixth Sense", were historic in that Breckenridge had chosen the names for its trails by way of a crowdsourced naming contest on their Facebook page, the first time this had ever been done by a ski resort. 
On March 29, 2013, Breckenridge announced that the resort had launched plans to completely re-imagine the Fun Park's summer activity offerings on the mountain as part of the Vail Resorts Epic Discovery summer program, which if it meets with USFS approvals, is expected to launch to the public in summer of 2015.  This includes the construction of two zip lines, one on Peak 8 next to the GoldRunner Coaster and one on Peak 7 between Claimjumper and Pioneer.
On December 9th, 2013, Breckenridge announced via their Facebook page that the Colorado SuperChair on Peak 8 would be upgraded to a high speed six pack for the 2014-2015 season, to alleviate long lines that plague the lift on weekends. The upgrade is also expected to relieve crowding, especially during the early season.
Breckenridge comprises the five peaks that make up the southern half of the Tenmile Range.
Peak 10 is the southernmost peak on the mountain, accessed by the Falcon SuperChair, which services black and double black terrain. The area used to have blue-black terrain until 2010, when Crystal, Centennial, and Doublejack were reclassified as black trails, to bring the resort into alignment with the NSAA, who discontinued use of "blue-black" runs in the industry, leaving Peak 10 as experts-only terrain.
The second oldest peak, the lower part of Peak 9 is a beginner learning slope, accessed by the Quicksilver SuperChair and Lift A. On the upper part of Peak 9 are intermediate blue runs serviced by the Mercury SuperChair, Beaver Run SuperChair, and Lift C. On the north side of Peak 9, facing towards Peak 8, are the North Chutes, double black-rated chutes serviced by Lift E. Lift E also functions as an access lift to transition from Peak 8 to Peaks 9 and 10.
Lower Peak 8 consists of beginner trails, as well as many intermediate trails mixed with some advanced runs. There are four lifts out of the base area: Lift 7, which services a beginner learning area; Lift 5, which services more advanced beginner terrain, the Freeway and Park Lane Terrain Parks, and the Alpine Slide; the Colorado SuperChair, which services the Vista Haus, central Peak 8, as well as access to the Peak 8 back bowls and Peak 9; and the Rocky Mountain SuperChair, which services northern Peak 8, as well as access to the T-Bar, Peak 7, and Peak 6.
Peak 8 is home to some of the premier terrain parks in the country, as freeskiers and riders have their pick of Freeway (black diamond rated) and Park Lane (blue rated) terrain parks, which are home to the 27-person Breck Pro Team, as well as numerous other extreme sports from around the world who use the parks to prepare for such events as The Dew Tour and X-Games.
The back bowls, and upper part of Peak 8, are composed of advanced and expert terrain. The Peak 8 back bowl area is composed of expert chutes. The lower part of this area is accessible by the Peak 8 SuperConnect's midway load station, while the upper part is accessible by Lift 6. Two lifts on Peak 8 go above tree-line: the T-Bar, accessible from the Rocky Mountain SuperChair, services northern Peak 8's chutes. The Imperial Express SuperChair, reachable from Lift 6, is North America's highest operating chairlift, and services the Imperial Bowl, the Lake Chutes, and access to the Peak 7 Bowl, which includes some very difficult terrain with slopes up to 55 degrees.
Peak 7's bowls are accessible by hiking from the T-Bar or a traverse from the top of the Imperial Express SuperChair. The lower part of Peak 7 is an area of rolling intermediate trails, groomed nightly. Peak 7's base area is composed of two large lodges, the Crystal Peak Lodge and the Grand Lodge on Peak 7, and is connected to town by one of two midway stations on the BreckConnect Gondola. The base area also has a restaurant, Seven's, opened in February 2009. Peak 7's terrain is serviced by the Independence SuperChair. The Zendo lift used to access Peak 6 also begins on Peak 7.
Peak 6, to the north of Peak 7, is also geared primarily to intermediate skiers and riders. Reachable first by the Zendo fixed grip quad originating at the bottom of Angel's Rest, or by the Wanderlust cat road from the top of the Independence SuperChair, Peak 6 is serviced by the Kensho SuperChair, and has intermediate bowl terrain with runs like Reverie, Bliss, Daydream, and Nirvana. Peak 6 also has expert chutes, including the Sixth Senses, which are reachable by hiking to Peak 6 1/2, as well as two additional bowls, the Serenity and Beyond Bowls, which are accessible by a short hike from the Kensho SuperChair.
On August 2, 2005, construction began on the Imperial Express SuperChair, which opened in time for the 2005–2006 ski season. It is the highest lift in North America, reaching a peak elevation of 12,840 feet (3,910 m). It can be accessed from 6 Chair and the T-Bar.
Hiking from the top of the Imperial lift allows access to the peak of Breckenridge (Peak 8) and some of the best terrain on the mountain, including some cornices with very nice, soft landings. It can get very windy and cold at the top, and in poor visibility conditions the peak will usually be closed.
The Lake Chutes, a series of daunting chutes with an incline of up to 55 degrees is reachable from the top of Peak 8. The chutes are some of the steepest terrain in the region, running vertically for about 400 feet (122 m).
Construction of a new eight-person gondola was announced on March 12, 2006 and the grand opening was January 18, 2007. The eight passenger gondola runs from the downtown Breckenridge transportation center to a mid-station at Shock Hill, over the Cucumber Gulch Preserve, to a mid-station at the Peak 7 base area, and ends at the Peak 8 base area. It serves as a base transportation system designed to reduce dependence on buses to get between the town and the resort's Peak 7 & 8 base areas. The gondola has a maximum hourly capacity of 3,000 people and takes seven and a half minutes to reach the Peak 7 base area from the transportation center and another two and a half minutes to reach the Peak 8 base area.
The gondola runs both in winter (every day of ski season) and in summer (every day of fun park operations), and is free to the public.
On September 13, 2006, the town and ski resort announced the name and logo of the new gondola as the BreckConnect Gondola.
Breck's Chairlift Innovations
The Breckenridge chairlift system has broken new ground over the years by implementing several new state-of-the-art engineering marvels, and the system today includes several renowned lifts, such as the sole double-loading lift in North America and the highest lift in North America.
- First High Speed Quad in the World (Quicksilver Quad, 1981, now runs at Owl's Head in Quebec)
- First (and only) double loading lift in North America (Quicksilver Six, 1999)
- Highest Lift in North America (Imperial Express SuperChair, 2005)
- 31 total
- 3 high-speed six pack chairlifts
- Quicksilver SuperChair—Peak 9
- Independence SuperChair—Peak 7
- Kensho SuperChair—Peak6
- 7 high-speed quads
- Falcon SuperChair—Peak 10
- Mercury SuperChair—Peak 9
- Beaver Run SuperChair—Peak 9
- Peak 8 SuperConnect—Peaks 9 and 8
- Colorado SuperChair—Peak 8
- Rocky Mountain SuperChair—Peak 8
- Imperial Express SuperChair—Peak 8
- 1 fixed-grip quad
- Zendo—Peak 6
- 1 triple lift
- Lift A—Peak 9
- 6 double lifts
- Lift C —Peak 9
- Lift E—Peak 9
- Snowflake—Town and Peak 8
- Rip's Ride/Lift 7—Peak 8
- Lift 5—Peak 8
- Lift 6—Peak 8
- 4 surface lifts
- T-Bar—Peak 8 (Public)
- Trygve's Platter—Peak 8 (Ski School)
- Eldorado Platter—Peak 9 (Ski School)
- Camelback Platter—Peak 9 (Ski School)
- 9 carpet lifts (All ski school)
- Ski and Ride Carpets A–D—Peak 9
- Ski and Ride Carpets 1–4—Peak 8
- 1 Gondola (finished January 2007 and operational)
- Breckconnect Gondola—Town, Shock Hill, Peak 7, Peak 8
- 3 high-speed six pack chairlifts
In December 2008, Breckenridge hosted the first Winter Dew Tour. It was the first action sports tour for winter sports and is owned and operated by Alli, the Alliance of Action Sports.
Breckenridge continues to host the event annually in the 2nd or 3rd weekend in December each year. In the 2012/13 season, the Dew Tour was condensed to only 1 winter stop, with Breck being the only winter host, in addition to the Dew Tour's other beach & urban stops. Currently the Dew Tour is contracted to operate in Breck through the 2013/14 season.
Many of the top athletes in action sports from around the world continue to participate in the Winter Dew Tour. The Breck Pro Team usually constitutes many of the athletes each year, and are jointed by other participants such as Shaun White, Hannah Teter, Tanner Hall, Andreas Wiig, Gretchen Bleiler, Simon Dumont, Sarah Burke, Tom Wallisch, and Travis Rice.
- History of the Breckenridge Ski Resort "History". Retrieved October 18, 2012.
- "50th Anniversary Season". News.breckenridge.vailresorts.com. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- "Breck's 50th Anniversary Season". News.breckenridge.vailresorts.com. Retrieved 2012-08-21.
- "Mountain Information". Breckenridge. 2009-07-02. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- [dead link]
- Denver, The. "The Denver Post's Colorado Ski Guide (published 23 October 2009)". Denverpost.com. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
-  WORLD'S TOP ATHLETES SHAUN WHITE, HANNAH TETER, TRAVIS RICE, TANNER HALL, TOM WALLISCH AND SARAH BURKE LEAD IMPRESSIVE LIST OF ATHLETES COMPETING ON WINTER DEW TOUR
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