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By Regan Dickinson, Examiner.com

It may seem a bit soon to discuss improvements at Colorado ski resorts for next season, but summer is flying by faster than you think. Speaking of flying, one of the improvements slated for Vail next season is a new high-speed, six-passenger chairlift, replacing the four-passenger Mountaintop Express Lift (#4) from Mid-Vail to Patrol Headquarters.

Construction is underway and Vail reports the lift will be operational for the 2013-2014 ski and snowboard season. Vail says the lift will reduce the number of stops and slowdowns. Additionally, the new lift will result in a 33 percent increase in capacity, or 3,600 people per hour, which is the same capacity as Vail’s new Gondola One. The old Mountaintop Express Lift (#4) was installed in 1985 and provides access to Patrol Headquarters and a number of surrounding areas including the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin.

“The Mountaintop Express Lift is one of the busiest lifts on Vail Mountain,” said Chris Jarnot, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain. “Upgrading it to a six-passenger lift and adding capacity will make a noticeable improvement in wait times and skier/snowboarder circulation. The use of the loading conveyor, which is a common feature at top European resorts, is an added luxury and reduces the frequency of misloads as well.” Jarnot also said, “The new triple lift in Golden Peak will allow for twice the capacity of our three to six year olds enrolled in lessons, as they are required to ride the lift with an adult. While this upgrade may seem small to our more experienced guests, it’s a critical improvement for our newest and youngest visitors to get them on the hill and learning faster.”

The majority of the both old lifts will be recycled and some components will be kept as spare inventory for Vail or other Vail Resorts mountains. For more information about Vail Mountain visit www.vail.com, or stop by the Mountain Information Center, open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or call (970) SKI-VAIL (754-8245). See you on the slopes!

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