Purgatory currently has a Mountain Master Plan that has been reviewed and approved by the Forest Service in 2008, which allows Purgatory to continue to make improvements to the mountain every year. The plan outlines new trails, lifts, snowmaking and other improvements to the skiing experience.
James Coleman and Purgatory’s ownership group recently reviewed the approved Mountain Master Plan and recognized the opportunity to have the Gelande lift serve as a higher function to skiers and snowboarders if the lift were installed in a different alignment than what was previously approved. This proposed new alignment would allow the Gelande lift to serve skiable terrain. The original approved plan called for a Gelande transfer lift, which would simply take skiers up the mountain, but would not provide top-to-bottom skiable terrain. The proposed improvement would also meet the increasing demand for advanced terrain on the front-side of the mountain, and would contribute to reducing skier traffic in the congested Demon Trail area.
Based on initial review of the project, the Forest Service has determined an Environmental Assessment (EA) is necessary to review, analyze and document the effects of this proposal within Purgatory’s special use permit (SUP).
The proposed Gelande lift realignment would be approximately 300 feet shorter, and located 250 feet (for the bottom terminal) to 900 feet (for the top terminal) south of the previously approved lift in the Mountain Master Plan. The total length of the Gelande chairlift would be 4,200 feet.
Purgatory is also proposing a new top-to-bottom trail at the Gelande lift (located just north and west of the new lift) and a new connecting trail from lower Styx to the bottom, both terminating at the Gelande parking lot and future Gelande day lodge. Styx will no longer need to be widened as was originally in the plan, hence there will not be any additional disturbance from what was previously approved on public lands. The new lift alignment requires a 26-acre adjustment of the Special Use Permit boundary, and these areas have already been designated as “high-use, recreation emphasis” and “active management.”
The bottom terminal of the Gelande lift would be located on private land near a proposed new day lodge and the existing Gelande parking lot. The top terminal would be located on National Forest Service land, requiring a similar amount of disturbance as was previously approved by the Forest Service in the Mountain Master Plan.
If approved by the Forest Service, the Gelande Lift would be installed during the summer of 2018.