One of Vail Resorts’ most anticipated Epic Lift Upgrades will not open during the 2022-23 season. It was reported last week that construction on the Bergman Bowl lift had been stopped on July 8th due to a third-party construction crew mistakingly building a road through a high-alpine tundra with a bulldozer. After Vail Resorts reported the error, the U.S. Forest Service issued a cease-and-desist order. This stopped construction for over a month while they waited for the U.S. Forest Service to approve their restoration plan.
According to the Colorado Sun, Keystone just got the thumbs up, but the delay in construction means that the new Bergman Bowl lift won’t be able to open during the 2022-23 season. On the bright side, at least Scott Fitzwilliams, White River National Forest supervisor, said these kind words about their restoration plan:
“Quite honestly, it’s the best restoration plan I’ve ever seen in my life. Even our staff are like ‘Oh my god,’. The restoration plan submitted by Keystone is extremely detailed, thorough and includes all the necessary actions to insure the damage is restored as best as possible.”
However, an eleven-page supplemental information report noted a myriad of errors from the construction team that was building the new lift and cutting new trails. Some of the mistakes included the unauthorized road that was bulldozed, an access route was cleared and graded without communication about changes to the plans, a delineated wetland creek was filled with logs to create a road crossing, topsoil and vegetation were not salvaged for replanting, heavy equipment was used on wet soils, and more. The most buzzworthy mistake was bulldozing the unauthorized road, which occurred on 1.5 acres above the treeline, and on 2.5 acres that were not approved by the U.S. Forest Service. Additional analysis will need to be performed due to the National Environmental Policy Act, but this can be done while construction continues.
The Bergman Bowl was previously only accessible by hiking to the terrain, which takes 30-45 minutes. Last year, Vail Resorts announced that a chairlift would be added to the high-alpine terrain. The 555 acres of newly lift-accessed terrain will feature sixteen trails that are serviced by a high-speed six-pack chairlift called the Bergman Express.
Based on the comments on Keystone’s Facebook page, most people seem happy that this lift won’t be opening for at least another season. Before the construction of this new lift, this terrain could be only accessed by hiking to the bowl, which gave a bit of a side-country experience to the ski resort. This is what drew locals to this terrain, and they’re happy that they’ll have one more season before a lift makes it tracked out within two minutes. Keystone’s official statement on the matter is below.
Image Credits: Keystone Resort