Breckenridge Ski Resort
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Peaks 8, 9 and 10 viewed from
Dercum Mountain at Keystone Resort
|Location||White River National Forest
Summit County, Colorado
|Vertical||3,398 ft (1,036 m)|
|Top elevation||12,998 ft (3,962 m)|
|Base elevation||9,600 ft (2,926 m)|
|Skiable area||2,908 acres (11.77 km2)|
- 14% beginner
- 31% intermediate
- 19% advanced
- 36% expert
|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 (940 cm) per year|
|Snowmaking||600 acres (2.4 km2)|
Breckenridge Ski Resort is an alpine ski resort in the western United States, in Colorado at the town of Breckenridge. Just west of the Continental Divide in Summit County, it is perennially one of the most visited ski resorts in the western hemisphere. Breckenridge is owned and operated by one of 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, Kirkwood, and Northstar at Lake Tahoe).
The mountain first opened on December 16, 1961, consisting of trails on Peak 8 serviced currently by the Colorado SuperChair. 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. It was the highest lift on the mountain until 2005 when the Imperial Express SuperChair was built.
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. Also in 1986, the Colorado SuperChair was built on Peak 8, replacing Lift 1. The replacement lift runs a different alignment from its predecessor, running up Spruce and ending at the Vista Haus. The construction of the Colorado SuperChair meant that each open peak had one high speed quad on it.
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, there are still remnants of this ownership that can still be found around the mountain, in that the lift sign on the Falcon SuperChair, and a small number of trail signs scattered around Peaks 9 and 10 (such as a ski patrol hut sign at the top of the Mercury SuperChair and a sign on the Beaver Run SuperChair's upper lift shack) utilize a font similar to that used on several of Aspen's trail signs.
The 1990s began with the construction of the Beaver Run SuperChair, which replaced Lift D and providing top-to-bottom lift service on Peak 9. It is the longest operating lift on the mountain, and also has the largest vertical drop of any chairlift. A few of Lift D's towers were repurposed as a lift evacuation training area, located just uphill from where the Beaver Run SuperChair crosses under the Peak 8 SuperConnect.
Breckenridge and Keystone were purchased by Vail Resorts in 1996, joining the company's other ski areas of Beaver Creek and Vail Ski Resort. Also 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, two aging double chairlifts were removed and two Poma high speed quads were constructed. On Peak 9, the Mercury SuperChair replaced Lift B. It runs parallel to the Beaver Run SuperChair, originating just uphill from Lift A to make it accessible from Peak 10 and Ten Mile Station, but ends farther uphill, closer to the top of Lift E. The Mercury SuperChair is not the first lift on Peak 9 to use this name. From 1990 to 1993, the name had been utilized by the Beaver Run SuperChair. On Peak 8, the Rocky Mountain SuperChair provided easier access from Peak 8 base to the T-Bar and north Peak 8 trails by eliminating a lengthy traverse from the Colorado SuperChair. After 2008, it became an alternate to the gondola for transitioning from Peak 8 to the Peak 7 base area at the end of the day, then in 2013 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 the Falcon's Aerie restaurant at the top of Peak 10. The following year, the original Quicksilver SuperChair was replaced with Quicksilver Super6, a high speed six pack. The original quad was relocated to Owl's Head resort in 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 bottom terminal of the lift has two separate loading areas, with an automated switch piece of railing being utilized to direct every other chair to the second loading station. Coinciding with this was the addition of a midway unload station on Lift A near where it passes the top of Quicksilver Super6, allowing skier traffic to bail out early for access to Ten Mile Station.
Breckenridge carried out a massive expansion and lift upgrade in 2002, the largest terrain expansion in Colorado that year.The project also entailed the construction of two new Leitner-Poma chairlifts. The first significant addition was the addition of intermediate trails on Peak 7, in the space to the north of Claimjumper and below the cat-track used by skiers to return from Peak 7's bowls. A high speed six pack was built to service the new terrain. In a time when high speed six packs were still very rare, the Independence SuperChair made Breckenridge the first ski resort in Colorado with more than one high speed six pack.
In addition to Peak 7, a new high speed quad was built to connect 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), crosses over the Beaver Run SuperChair and Lift C, runs to a midway load and turn station at Lift 4's loading station, then runs up Lift 4's line to end near the Vista Haus. 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 entering from the bottom.
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 a hike in bitter temperatures and howling winds. In 2005, this problem was alleviated when Leitner-Poma constructed a new high speed quad, which outdid Loveland Ski Area's Chair 9 to become the highest operating chairlift in North America. Originating at the top of Lift 6 and topping out just below the summit of Peak 8 at 12,840 feet (3,910 m), the Imperial Express SuperChair 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.
Construction of a new eight-person gondola was announced on March 12, 2006, meant to serve as a replacement to the ski area buses on Ski Hill Road. In early 2007, the BreckConnect Gondola opened to the public, 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 travels across the Cucumber Gulch preserve, 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 takes a final hop to reach Peak 8 base. The BreckConnect has an hourly capacity of 3,000 pph, and runs every day of winter operations, as well as every day of fun park operations in the summer. For the gondola's first two years of operation, 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, intending to shift 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 opened to the public for the first time in 2010. The lodge has a new food court facility and a cocktail lounge known as the T-Bar (not to be confused with the T-Bar servicing Horseshoe Bowl). Also in 2008, a new base area opened on Peak 7 at the BreckConnect Gondola's second midstation. Two lodges, the Crystal Peak Lodge and Grand Lodge on Peak 7, anchor the base area. To tie the new lodges in to the mountain, the Independence SuperChair's bottom terminal was moved downhill by 540 feet. This necessitated the addition of a new lift tower, 2A, and six additional chairs. 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).
In November 2010, the GoldRunner Coaster was constructed in the woods adjacent to Lift 7. The alpine coaster runs winter and summer and supplements the fun park's activities.
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. Loading gates at all of the high speed quads were also removed, leaving just the Independence SuperChair, Quicksilver Super6, and the Peak 8 SuperConnect with loading gates (the Independence SuperChair would lose its loading gates one year later; Quicksilver still uses gates because it is a double loading lift and the Peak 8 SuperConnect uses them because it has a midway load station).
In 2013, Breckenridge carried out another massive terrain expansion, constructing a long-awaited 543 acre expansion onto Peak 6. The construction of 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. Two new Leitner-Poma chairlifts were built: the lower lift, a fixed grip quad called Zendo, transports visitors from near the bottom of Angel's Rest and Monte Cristo on Peak 7 to the Horizon Warming Hut at 10,800 feet. From here, the summit of Peak 6 is reached by a high speed six pack, the Kensho SuperChair, which tops out at an elevation of 12,302 feet and provides access to intermediate bowl terrain. The Kensho SuperChair is the highest high-speed six pack in North America, taking the title from Winter Park Resort's Panoramic Express. Trail and lift names on Peak 6 reflect a common theme of the resort's Peak 6 branding, "Awaken Your Sixth Sense". The choice of trail names was historic in that they were selected by way of a crowdsourced naming contest on the Breckenridge Ski Resort Facebook page, the first time this had ever been done by a ski resort.  Zendo and the Kensho SuperChair opened to skier traffic on December 25th, 2013, expanding the resort to 2,908 acres spread across five peaks.
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 several zip lines on Peak 8 and Peak 7. The first of these was the Ten Mile Flyer on Peak 8, constructed adjacent to the GoldRunner Coaster, and opened on January 22, 2014.
On December 9th, 2013, Breckenridge announced that the Colorado SuperChair on Peak 8 would be upgraded to a high speed six pack for the 2014-2015 season. This upgrade will increase the lift's uphill capacity from 2,800 people per hour to 3,600 people per hour. The new Colorado SuperChair is expected to relieve crowding and lines on the lift significantly, as it services a large amount of terrain on south and central Peak 8, as well as providing access to the Peak 8 bowls via Lift 6 and access to Peak 9 via Frosty's Freeway or Four O'clock. It is also expected to be useful during the early season when it is the sole lift open. With the construction of it and the Kensho SuperChair, the Colorado SuperChair brings Breckenridge to four high speed six packs, the most at any single resort in Colorado.
Breckenridge is spread out across the five peaks that make up the southern half of the Tenmile Range.
Peak 10 is the southernmost peak on the mountain. It is an advanced riders-only peak, as the only trails down from the top are blacks and double black. The peak is serviced by the Falcon SuperChair. The advanced terrain on Peak 10 varies, from groomers underneath and near the lift like Crystal and Cimarron, to glades on the north side like the Burn and chutes with names like Mustang and Black Hawk on the far south side.
The second oldest peak, the lower part of Peak 9 is a beginner learning slope, accessed by Quicksilver Super6 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. At the north end of the base area are the two superchairs. A high speed six pack, the Colorado SuperChair, provides access to the Vista Haus, central Peak 8, as well as access to the Peak 8 back bowls and Peak 9. A high speed quad, the Rocky Mountain SuperChair, provides access to northern Peak 8, 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. Hiking from the top of the Imperial lift allows access to the summit of Peak 8 and a variety of cornices and chutes. 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 Imperial. The chutes are some of the steepest terrain in the region, running vertically for about 400 feet (122 m).
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, but also includes a large amount of advanced terrain and chutes. The primary way to reach Peak 6 is to utilize the Zendo lift, originating at the bottom of Angel's Rest on Peak 7 and terminating at the Horizon warming hut at 10,800 feet. From the Horizon warming hut, the Kensho SuperChair runs above timberline to an altitude of 12,302 feet, providing direct access to intermediate bowl trails with names like Reverie, Bliss and Delirium. A short hike from the Kensho SuperChair provides access to Peak 6's chutes, including the Sixth Senses, which are reachable by hiking to Peak 6 1/2, as well as two additional bowls, the Serenity Bowl (to the south) and Beyond Bowl (to the north).
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
- 4 high-speed six pack chairlifts
- Quicksilver Super6—Peak 9
- Colorado SuperChair—Peak 8
- Independence SuperChair—Peak 7
- Kensho SuperChair—Peak6
- 6 high-speed quads
- Falcon SuperChair—Peak 10
- Mercury SuperChair—Peak 9
- Beaver Run SuperChair—Peak 9
- Peak 8 SuperConnect—Peaks 9 and 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 eight person gondola (finished January 2007 and operational)
- Breckconnect Gondola—Town, Shock Hill, Peak 7, Peak 8
- 4 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.
- Breckenridge Trail Map: 1990-1995
- "Mountain Information". Breckenridge. 2009-07-02. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- [dead link]
- "50th Anniversary Season". News.breckenridge.vailresorts.com. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- "Breck's 50th Anniversary Season". News.breckenridge.vailresorts.com. Retrieved 2012-08-21.
- 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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