A working group seeking to devise new infrastructure for the Aspen Mountain portal at Lift 1A must settle on a short list of options to be studied in further detail before the project can move forward.

As part of that process, the city and a consulting firm that designs ski-lift systems are asking the Aspen Skiing Co. and two hotel developers with plans for land to be impacted to determine what qualitative issues might prevent them from getting on board with any of the specific options.

Those options — whittled down after SE Group presented nine initial scenarios last fall — appear to consist of a single-stage lift extending to Dean Street, an additional 500 feet down the hill from current loading terminal; a single-stage lift going roughly to Gilbert Street, which is about halfway between the current base and Dean Street; or a multi-stage alignment that loads at Dean with a stop at the planned Gorsuch Haus at the top of the South Aspen Street hill, where the existing lift loads.

Each scenario presents challenges. For example, some have questioned whether the quality of the skiing experience for the last 500 feet, as well as operational challenges related to snowmaking and grooming, would be a deal breaker for a lift that extends to Dean Street. Others feel this is not a sufficient reason to not bring the lift down the hill, as the surrounding parcels are blanketed by new hotel development.

The lift-to-Gilbert scenario may be a half measure that politically satisfies no one and requires a major redesign and potential loss of square footage for the Lift One Lodge.

A two-stage lift requires packing more loading and unloading infrastructure into an already challenging circulation picture, but has the advantage of allowing repeat skiers to avoid going through a narrow park to get back to the lift, alleviating operational challenges.

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