« July 1992 | Main | September 1992 »

August 28, 1992

Lost Areas #4 - Published 28 August 1992


During early July there were several newsgroup posts from several folks concerning closed Colorado ski areas. Researching lost Colorado ski areas just happens to be the hobby of The Colorado Skier. We even wrote a book on the subject (Would you believe a pamphlet? How about a typewritten list?).

The Colorado Skier is prepared to clarify the history and status of every dead or lost ski area in Colorado. There are at least 75 of them. But that's too many for one posting. So we will pick 5 from the 20 or so discussed in the recent series of articles and provide info on them. Then we will also add five new areas to challenge your collective memories.

If we discuss 10 dead/lost ski areas every week or so, we should have covered them all by the time the snow flies and then can turn our attention to current ski area info.

EDITOR'S REMARKS: Thanks for the feedback on Edition #3. Lots of good input, which is discussed under follow-up news in Section 3. Please keep telling us about your favorite lost ski area. We may have already covered it; we may be about to cover it; or by golly, stop the presses, it may be a "brand new" lost area! We are planning a special issue to bring everyone up to date on what "new" areas have been discovered. And as always, we thank you for your support.

AN APOLOGY: We wondered how long it would take before our flippant style twisted somebody's tail. Well, one of the former owners of the PIKES PEAK ski area became irate after reading our statement that the area had gone "bankrupt". It didn't. Bankruptcy is a legal term and does not apply in this case. The ski area was losing money (the biggest problem was a faulty snowmaking system - low water flow) and the owners simply decided to close and go out of business. Creditors were dealt with and the new triple chairlift was returned to the manufacturer to pay off the amount owed. No bankruptcy here! We sorry.

About 40% of the responses to our postings have been from outside Colorado (all the ones in-state are from Boulder!), so maybe one of these days we will reach out and touch another state. For example, do any of you surfer dudes/dudettes remember: Blue Ridge, China Peak, Goldmine, Holiday Hill, or Ski Safari Basin?


1. Five Lost Ski Areas you have been discussing:

DALLAS DIVIDE (Ridgway), [closed], Easily visible about four miles west of "Dallas Divide" (on the road to Telluride) immediately adjacent to CO Hiway 62. Operated from about 1962 to 1976. After 1967 it was called SKI DALLAS. The lift was gone as of 1991, but there are still buildings.

Vertical drop: 800 ft Top: 9000 Base: 8200

Lifts: 1 t-bar

RIFLE - 1 (Rifle), [obscure], Located 12 miles north of Rifle near Rio Blanco on CO Hiway 13. Appeared on highway maps from 1962 to 1988. The words "ski tow" appear on the 1973 White River NFS map, about 3 miles south of Rio Blanco at elevation 6930 ft. We have found no text references.

RIFLE - 2 (Rifle), [planned], Would have been 10 miles south of Rifle on Mamn's Peak/Battlement Mesa. In the planning stages since 1968. The Forest Service approved the draft EIS in 1982. Planning talk continued, circa 1987. The principal developer died in a plane crash while surveying the area. The oil shale bust also destroyed enthusiasm. Dormant.

STAGECOACH (Steamboat Springs), [closed 1974], Located about 15 miles south of Steamboat Springs to the east of Hiway 131 and visible south and west of Rabbit Ears Pass (further south and west than the proposed LAKE CATAMOUNT). Operated during the 1972/73 and 73/74 seasons. Went bankrupt with the Woodmoor development near Colorado Springs. Probably the largest ski area in Colorado to permanently close. The lifts were still in place a few years back but we haven't been there lately. The base lodge was temporary and looked as fragile as a movie set - probably gone.

Vertical drop: 1700 ft Top: 9150 Base: 7450

Lifts: 3 double chairs

STONER (Stoner), [closed 1985], Operated from 1951 to 1985 by the Ski-Hi Ski Club of Cortez. A hefty vertical drop for a small, obscure area. Advertised for sale in 1987. Lifts appeared to be gone in 1991. Easily visible from Hiway 145 at Stoner.

Vertical drop: 1200 ft Top: 8800 Base: 7600

Lifts: 2 t-bars, 2 rope tows

This concludes the rundown of lost ski areas that y'all were discussing in the early July posts, except for Lake City which we are being coy with - it will show up later under a different name. Did we miss any? We will continue the other list (Section 2) of Lost Colorado Ski Areas from our data base until we have covered all 75. With this issue we have covered 35.

2. And here are the Ski Area Descriptions from Edition #3:

MANCOS (same), [obscure], A 1950 reference says it was located eight miles east of Mancos along U.S. 160 on "Mancos Hill". No sixties references. Not readily visible.

Vertical drop: 150 ft Top: Base 8,000

Lifts: 1 rope tow

MEADOW MOUNTAIN (Minturn), [closed 1969], Operated 3 seasons from 1966 to 1969. Had Colorado's only Luge run. Purchased by VAIL and closed in the summer of 1969 (clever way to eliminate competition!). The base lodge (now a day care center) is still visible between Minturn and I-70 on U.S. 24. Ski lifts have been removed (Vail used the chairlift). Some land was sold to the Forest Service for back country access.

Vertical drop: 900 ft Top: 8800 Base: 7900

Lifts: 1 double chair, 1 Poma

MERCURY (Alma), [obscure], The ski trail is visible on the northwest side of town as you head south from Hoosier Pass. Looks like your typical small rope tow area. The area appears on all Gousha’ highway maps from the sixties and seventies, altho usually located at Hoosier Pass, which had a separate ski area (covered in Edition #2).

MESA CREEK (On Grand Mesa), [closed 1966], Visible along Hiway 65 about two miles past the Powderhorn turnoff. Originally opened in 1950 under the name GRAND MESA with two rope tows. Used the name MESA CREEK in the early sixties. The name came from a creek running thru the area. The area was moved to a new location nearby and reopened under the name POWDERHORN in 1966. Some locals refer to the area as "Old Powderhorn".

Vertical drop: 300 ft Top: 9300 Base: 9000

Lifts: 2 pomas, 1 rope tow

MONTEZUMA BASIN (Aspen), [closed], Summer skiing (circa mid-60's) on a glacier-like area above Ashcroft near Aspen. Skiers had to ride a four-wheel drive vehicle about 3 miles past the end of the Ashcroft (Castle Creek) road to get to the area. Used a portable rope tow in 1966 and a portable poma in 1967 with 1000 feet of vertical. Open from August thru October. Listed in Skiing's 1971 "Ski Area Guide" as 1100 ft vertical, 2 t-bars, June-Oct. Some sources say there were also plans to develop a permanent ski area at the site. Note: The area is still popular for summer skiing - no lifts. One guide to summer skiing in Colorado calls it MONTEZUMA GLACIER.

3. Follow up to Editions #2 and #3

a. And we have a winner! Mr. "R.O." of Boulder, CO correctly identified all four of the gondolas at Colorado ski areas which have been removed or replaced (described in Edition #3). Someone else remembered the first gondola at Steamboat and had enjoyed "those high towers". Congratulations, Rick!

b. Rick hinted that the Lions Head gondola was replaced after the accident and thus indirectly suggested that the answer might really be FIVE dead gondolas. We do not believe that the Lions Head gondola was "replaced". Repaired, yes. Refurbished, yes. Improved, yes. Replaced, no. The towers are the same. The top and bottom lift machinery is the same. The gondola cars are the same. The "haul" cable was replaced, as it unravelled and caused the problem. Sensors were added to the lift towers to detect derailed cables (thus causing stoppages on windy days until they got the sensitivity tuned). Devices were added to each car to allow passengers to signal a problem. A rope was added to each car to aid in raising rescue equipment. So, a lot of overhaul - but still the same gondola system.

c. CLAUDINE LONGET - Why did we mention her name? Claudine was a petite, gorgeous creature who made records and TV movies, and was married to singer Andy Williams. After she divorced Andy she moved to Aspen and took up with famous pro ski racer SPIDER SABICH. When she tired of him, she took out her cute little pearl handled revolver and blew him away! Proving that the rich and famous can't just hire a high powered lawyer and get off scot-free, Claudine actually did serve 30 days in the county jail for her little misdemeanor. She still lives in Aspen and we saw her playing softball one day, looking a lot like Goldie Hawn in "Private Benjamin".

[Sure hope Claudine and her lawyer don't read REC.SKIING!]

How does this relate? Well, the killing took place about the time of the Vail gondola disaster. Hence the line: "What is the worst possible luck for a Colorado skier? Answer - Riding on a Vail gondola with Claudine Longet!"

"SNL" did a cute bit with a film showing lots of expert skiers falling down on a steep bump run. Every time a skier fell, there was the sound of a gunshot. Then the announcer said: "In the news, Claudine Longet visits local ski area!"

d. Remember the confusion over the first rope tow in Colorado? We claimed BERTHOUD in 1937, a faithful (we hope) reader claimed the first was at CLIMAX in 1936, while we remembered Climax as having a T-bar. Well, the other day we were reading a history book which states "the first rope tow west of the Mississippi was opened on PIKES PEAK in 1937 by the Spruce Mtn Ski Club". So now we have another candidate.

We find that ski club name interesting as another reference says that the "Silver Spruce Ski Club" operated a ski area (sans lifts) north of Woodland Park near "Edlowe" (which is west of Woodland Park, not north) in the early thirties. Later that club moved to Pikes Peak and built a ski lift. Curious, eh? We love it when trivia comes together.

"We were reading a history book"? Do you mean to say that the virile, athletic, gung-ho skiing, outdoors person called "The Colorado Skier" actually goes to dark, dank, damp, old libraries to read boring old musty, dusty history books? You bet! How else would we know all this stuff?

4. Who remembers these Lost Colorado Ski Areas?


And the list goes on and on and on ...

5. Answer to the Edition #3 Bonus Question - The questions were:

a. Which ski area operated the first QUAD chair in Colorado?

ANSWER: Breckenridge - 1981

(Boyne Mountain had the first quad anywhere way back in 1964. By 1981, Boyne Mtn and Boyne Highlands had 3 quads apiece.)

b. Which ski area operated the first DETACHABLE (hi-speed) quad chair in Colorado? ANSWER: Breckenridge - 1981

One of our faithful readers lived in an apartment overlooking the site and watched it being built. Curiously, Breck advertised it as "the fastest chairlift in the western hemisphere" for 3 years. Then, in 1984, they suddenly switched to "first detachable quad chair in the world". Besides our eyewitness, we quote a very reliable ski publication which in 1981 said: "World's first detachable grip quad chairlift."

(In case you were wondering how Vail was staying competitive in the quad chair race, they added four Super Quads in 1985.)

c. Which ski area operated the first "SIX-PACK" (6 passengers) chairlift in Colorado?

ANSWER: None, so far. All right, it was a trick question - so sue me! The first Doppelmayr "Six Pac" operated at MT. ORIGNAL (Moose Mtn), Quebec for the 1991/92 season. The second six-pack is scheduled to open at BOYNE MOUNTAIN, MI in Dec, 1992. None is scheduled for Colorado so far, altho Vail is "studying the situation".

Note: BOYNE MOUNTAIN has always topped our list of the most "excessively" lift served ski areas in the country. They have a vertical drop of 415 feet (less than Ski Broadmoor) and they serviced that last season with 11 chairlifts, including 4 quads, for a total lift capacity of 17,000 skier per hour! And now a six-pac. Wow!

6. New Bonus questions:

a. Name the five NEWEST ski areas in Colorado.

b. Name the five OLDEST Colorado ski areas still operating (not counting Berthoud Pass).

c. Name the NEWEST ski area in the country.

d. Somewhere between the Rockies and the Appalachians was a ski area called TRAIL RIDGE. In what unlikely state was it located?

e. Which ski area CLAIMS to be the "largest ski area in the country" even tho they do not lead in ANY category, including: vertical drop, number of trails, acreage, number of lifts, lift capacity, number of skier days, or even highest lift ticket price. They do, however, lead in size of ego.

7. Trivia Question of The Year (Mother of All Trivia Questions?)

Here is advanced notice of Edition 5's primo question.

"Which Colorado Ski areas receive the most snow?"

The answer will involve base depths, rather than yearly snowfall so that we can be precise and won't have, for example, 3 areas tied at 350 inches. We will explain the ground rules next time. Be thinking about it. No early guesses on the NET, tho. You won't want to tip off your buddy and have him or her steal one of the nifty prizes!


"A day without liftlines has got to be rated at least GOOD!" (Lee Fry, alias "Tattoo", 1976).

Hosted by Yahoo! Web Hosting

August 17, 1992

Lost Areas #3 - Published 17 August 1992


During early July('92) there were several newsgroup (rec.skiing) posts from several folks concerning closed Colorado ski areas. Researching lost Colorado ski areas just happens to be the hobby of The Colorado Skier. We even wrote a book on the subject (Would you believe a pamphlet? How about a typewritten list?).

The Colorado Skier is prepared to clarify the history and status of every dead or lost ski area in Colorado. There are at least 75 of them. But that's too many for one posting. So we will pick 5 from the 20 or so discussed in the recent series of articles and provide info on them. Then we will also add five new areas to challenge your collective memories.

If we discuss 10 dead/lost ski areas every week or so, we should have covered them all by the time the snow flies and then can turn our attention to current ski area info.

EDITOR'S REMARKS: Thanks for the feedback on Newsletter Edition #2. Lots of good input, which is discussed under follow-up news in Section 3.)


1. Five lost ski areas you have been discussing:

IDLEWILD (Winter Park), [closed 1986], Located in the town of Hideaway Park a few miles north of the Winter Park ski area. There is still a highway sign pointing the way, probably to current cross-country operations. Operated from 1960 to 1986. Usually called SKI IDLEWILD. [note that the town of "Hideaway Park" seems to have disappeared from most maps - apparently merged with or was renamed "Winter Park".]

Vertical drop: 400 ft Top: 9100 Base: 8700

Lifts: 1 double chair, 1 Poma

PIKES PEAK (on Pikes Peak), [closed 1984], Operated most years from 1939 to 1984 (did not operate in the 66/67 & 80/81 seasons). The area received expansion permission from the NFS and water rights (for snowmaking) in 1978. A triple chair was added for the 1982/83 season and the vertical drop was increased from 270 feet to 900 feet. Snowmaking was installed. However, the area went "bankrupt" (not true - see next issue) after the 1983/84 season. The chairlift was repossessed by the manufacturer. One sad aspect of this situation is that the new runs were only used for two seasons. What a waste of trees! It will take 100 years or more for them to grow back, at that altitude. This may be the same area called GLEN COVE in the forties.

Vertical drop: 900 ft Top: 11,700 Base: 10,800

Lifts: 1 triple chair, 1 rope tow

ST. MARY'S GLACIER (Idaho Springs), [closed 1986], Located 7 miles north of I-70 on the "Fall River Rd" west of Idaho Springs. Operated on and off from the late thirties to 1986. The current equipment was installed in the fifties. Also known as SILVER LAKE (mid 70's), SILVER MOUNTAIN (1979/80), SKI ST. MARY'S (early 70's), and once as SKI ST. MARY'S GLACIAL ICE (!). This area was famous early on (circa 1938, 39) for an annual Fourth of July ski race, probably on the glacier itself, not at the current ski area location.

Vertical drop: 675 ft Top: 10,955 Base: 10,280

Lifts: 1 t-bar, 2 Mitey Mites

SHARKTOOTH (Greeley), [closed], Located on a sandstone bluff a few miles west and one mile north of Greeley (on county road 25). Operated from 1971 to 1986. Sometimes open for sledding and tubing. Lowest base altitude of any ski area in Colorado. Owner Dick Perchlik once stated: "30 feet of our hill is as good as anything in the Alps" !!!

Vertical drop: 150 ft Top: 4750 Base: 4600

Lifts: 1 pony lift

SQUAW PASS (Bergen Park), [closed 1975], Small area on Hiway 103 west of Bergen Park and 4 miles west of "Squaw Pass". Top of the lift is at highway level, on the north side of the road. Operated from 1962 to 1975. At one time (1988) a religious group was thinking of buying and reopening it. Hard to find.

Vertical drop: 700 ft Top: 9000 Base: 8300

Lifts: 1 t-bar, 1 rope tow

2. And here are the Ski Area Descriptions from our last post:

CLOUD CITY SKI CLUB (Leadville), [obscure], Visible in south Leadville (Stringtown) along U.S. 24 near Colorado Mtn College for the last several years. About 150 feet of vertical, one rope tow. We used to call the area LEADVILLE in our data base, but in Dec 1991 there was a sign saying "Cloud City Ski Club".

Vertical drop: 150 ft Top: Base: 9,900 (est.)

Lifts: 1 rope tow

INDIAN MOUNTAIN (near Como), [obscure], Associated with the Indian Mountain recreational housing development located 5 miles southeast of Hiway 285. Two surface lifts, several trails, circa 1979. We saw the trails from the air in 1979. Appeared on the 1980 State of Colorado hiway map. It is not known if this area ever actually operated. The Colorado Skier has a brochure which shows one poma, one pony lift, and 5 trails.

KENDALL MOUNTAIN (Silverton), [closed], Appears on many maps, frequently misspelled as "Kendal". Operated during the mid-sixties to mid-seventies. The slope is visible about one mile southeast of the town of Silverton on the flanks of "Kendall Mtn".

Vertical drop: 200 ft Top: 9300 Base: 9100 (est.)

Lifts: 1 t-bar (night skiing)

LITTLE ANNIE (BASIN) (Aspen), [planned], Adjacent to and south of "Aspen Mtn". Appears as "Annie Basin" on NFS maps. A new ski area was in the serious planning stages in 1979 by an independent developer but was never built due to lack of financing. Aspen Skiing Co. sometimes talks of expanding Aspen Mountain into the basin and they have run snowcat tours into the Little Annie terrain. A 1965 Ski Magazine ski area guide lists LITTLE ANNIE as a snowcat area. No recent development news.

MARBLE (Marble), [closed 1974], Located about two miles north of Marble. Operated with snowcats in the 1971-72 season. Opened with a chairlift in 1972 for two seasons. The area planned to add two more chairlifts for the 1974/75 season but failed to open. Never popular with the Forest Service, the town of Marble, or the public. Was built on a geologically unsound area subject to landslides. (Another faithful reader reported that air pollution in the narrow canyon was also a problem.)

Vertical drop: 1050 ft Top: 9800 Base: 8750

Lifts: 1 double chair

3. Follow up to Edition #2

a. One of our faithful readers reports having seen the rope tow at CHAUTAUQUA PARK in Boulder during the winter of 1956/57. Says it was run by the Jr Chamber of Commerce and was also used by tubers and toboggans. Neato! This is a record to shoot at. The Colorado Skier's earliest "visual" on a dead ski area is SKI BROADMOOR in 1962.

b. Thanks to a faithful California reader (how's it shaking?) for pointing out another ski area which is located in a national park. LASSEN NATIONAL PARK SKI AREA is located in Lassen Volcanic National Park. (how do you wax for cinders?)

For the record:

LASSEN (note: now closed)

Vertical drop: 600 ft Top: 7200 Base: 6600

Lifts: 1 triple chair, 2 rope tows

BADGER PASS (in Yosemite National Park)

Vertical drop: 800 ft Top: 8000 Base: 7200

Lifts: 4 chairs (1 triple), 2 surface lifts

c. Yes, there was a typo in the BERTHOUD PASS phantom elevations write-up. In paragraph 5, after "Heard enuff?", it should read ".... was reporting a base altitude of 11,022 feet which is 300 feet below the base lodge ...." We told you their numbers were crazy - so weird that even our highly paid crack team of historians, analysts, statisticians (and one English major) can't keep track of the data. Actually, after further study and reflection, a staff member concluded that 11,022 feet is the altitude of the UPPER shuttle bus stop. How would you like to ski 300 feet of vertical in 30 seconds and then wait 30 minutes for the bus? (We hope we have added enough fluff to the correction to cover up the fact that The Colorado Skier actually made a mistake.) :-)

d. RIST CANYON - Some questions, but no new data yet, stand by.

e. In Edition #2 we mentioned that SKI BROADMOOR also had an elevation fiasco and after zero, none, nada, zippo, no requests to explain that story, we will do it anyway. For many years, Ski Broadmoor reported its data as Top: 6800 ft, Base: 6200 ft, and Vertical drop: 600 ft. One day we were looking at a topo map and observed that the 6200 ft contour was almost at Hiway 115, about a mile east and considerably downhill from the Broadmoor base. Also 6800 ft was just above the Cheyenne Mtn Zoo parking lot, which one drives thru on the way (slightly downhill) to the base of the ski area. Something was amiss. So we dropped a postcard to the Broadmoor Hotel, outlining our findings. The following season, the elevation data had miraculously changed, as follows.

Top: 7084 ft, Base: 6569 ft, and Vertical Drop: 515 ft.

Ever vigilant, we remain your faithful servant, The Colorado Skier.

f. We were paging thru the original "Closed Colorado Ski Areas" newsgroup posts from early July and noticed questions about the current status of CONQUISTADOR, CUCHARA VALLEY, and POWDERHORN. In case you have missed (why?) our companion posts called "What's New for 92 at Colorado Ski Areas", Good News - all three areas WILL be open for the upcoming (92/93) season.

4. Who remembers these Lost Colorado Ski Areas?

(from the marvelous and magnificent "M" collection)


And the list goes on and on and on ...

5. Answer to the Edition #2 Bonus Question - The question was: "Name four (4) former Colorado ski area GONDOLAs which have been removed or replaced".

VAIL: The very first gondola (4-place) in Colorado was installed at Vail, in Dec, 1962. It ran from the main base to mid-Vail. It was removed and replaced by a double chair to the bottom of Chair 2 in 1976 and eventually by a high-speed quad chair (the Vista Bahn) back up to mid-Vail in 1985. The lower gondola terminal now has skier services and shops on the lower level and the most expensive condominium in Vail on the upper level (once owned by Australian Alan Bond of "America's Cup" yachting fame). Note that this is NOT the gondola that dropped a few cars and killed several skiers back in the mid-seventies. That gondola, at Lions Head, is STILL operating (closed in 1996). Good luck! (Try not to ride with Claudine Longet!)

CRESTED BUTTE: Their gondola just missed the honor of being the first in Colorado by opening a few days after Vail's, in Jan, 1963. This was an old three passenger gondola wisely discarded by an Italian ski area. The brightly colored egg shaped gondola cars were very pretty but were also very cramped, even for three people. The cars had no bumpers and after a few years sported patches on the round parts where the cars collided (we hope they collided only in the stations!). The entire lift was replaced by the "Silver Queen" bubble-top double chair in 1973. The old gondola cars are collector's items.

STEAMBOAT: Opened their first six-passenger gondola in 1970. It was built tram style with only two intermediate towers and great long traverses 100 feet above the ground. Europeans, who are used to trams, were reputed to be afraid to ride it. It was replaced by the eight-passenger "Silver Bullet" gondola (lower, more towers) in 1986.

KEYSTONE: Opened their spiffy new "River Run" six-passenger gondola ("the continent's longest and largest capacity") at the new "River Run" base area in 1984. However, Keystone was unhappy with the performance and safety and tore it down in 1986 after only two years of operation. (We wonder if it is still operating at some unsuspecting area in the midwest!) The new "Skyway" six-passenger gondola opened in the same place in 1986 and is still operating. We note that altho the ski area brochures clearly showed a different looking gondola in 1986, Keystone made no mention (other than the name change) of the fact that the gondola had been replaced. (We just happened to wander by and discover all the old gondola cars in the parking lot in the summer of 86, and subsequently sniffed out the story.)

6. New Bonus Questions: Which ski area had the first quad chair in Colorado? Which ski area had the first detachable (hi-speed) quad chair in Colorado? Which area had the first "six-pack" (6 passengers) chairlift in Colorado?

"Skiing is not a way of life, it's much more important than that!" (The Summit Sentinel, 1986)


Hosted by Yahoo! Web Hosting

August 10, 1992

Lost Areas #2 - Published 10 August 1992


Greetings from The Colorado Skier 


During early July('92) there were several posts on rec.skiing concerning closed Colorado ski areas. Researching lost Colorado ski areas just happens to be the hobby of The Colorado Skier. We even wrote a book on the subject (Would you believe a pamphlet? How about a typewritten list?).

The Colorado Skier is prepared to clarify the history and status of every dead or lost ski area in Colorado. There are at least 75 of them. But that's too many for one posting. So we will pick 5 from the 20 or so discussed in the recent series of articles and provide info on them. Then we will also add five new areas to challenge your collective memories.

If we discuss 10 dead/lost ski areas every week or so, we should have covered them all by the time the snow flies and then can turn our attention to current ski area info.

Editor's Remarks: Thanks for the feedback on Edition #1. A perusal of the text will reveal that we are doing the lost ski areas in alphabetical order. Thus, if your favorite lost ski area starts with a "Z" or even an "S", hang in there, it might take a while. Be assured tho, that we will get to Sharktooth eventually (hint: it is in Greeley). All of the areas which you folks have suggested adding to the list were already in our data base except two, which we will discuss in Section 3. Oh yes, the name is Guanella Pass, repeat GUANELLA Pass; think of guano.







 1. Five lost ski areas you have been discussing:


CUCHARA VALLEY (La Veta), [temporarily closed], Opened under the name PANADERO in 1981 at (or near) the location of the older CUCHARA BASIN ski area. Last operating season was 1988/89. Rumors of an impending sale in July 1992.

Vertical drop: 1562 ft Top: 10,810 Base: 9248

Lifts: 1 triple chair, 3 double chairs, 1 pony lift


ESTES PARK (Estes Park), [temporarily closed], Located a few miles west of town, within Rocky Mountain National Park. Fairly small, no chair lifts. Formerly known as SKI ESTES PARK, SKI ESTES, and originally as HIDDEN VALLEY. Most sources say the area opened in 1955, yet two references have it listed (as Hidden Valley) in 1950 and 1952. There was also organized skiing in Estes Park before 1940, but it's not known if there were any lifts. Recently operated by the Estes Valley Recreation District backed by a group of Estes Park businessmen. Both groups failed to obtain sufficient financing for the 1991/92 season. The long range plans are to eliminate the ski area from the National Park and the Park Service has hinted that the area is already considered permanently closed.

[Note: One other ski area on National Park land is BADGER PASS, within Yosemite National Park. However it is off to the side of a "relatively" non-scenic connecting road. Trail Ridge Road, however, goes right thru the middle of Hidden Valley.] 

[Note: There was also a ski area in Lassen National Park.]

Vertical drop: 2000 ft Top: 11,500 Base: 9,500

Lifts: 2 t-bars, 2 pomas, shuttle bus


FUN VALLEY (Homewood Park), [closed 1970], Located in Deer Creek Canyon about 5 miles south of Tinytown. Operated from 1965 to 1970. Lift complement seems to vary by source. In their own ad in the 1966 Denver Post, they claimed to have two chairlifts. [For the person whose high school ski team trained there, what years? and were there any chairlifts?]

Vertical drop: 550 ft Top: Base: 6900 (est.)

Lifts: 1 single chair, 1 rope tow, 1 poma (night skiing)


GENEVA BASIN (Grant), [temporarily closed], Off US 285 north of Grant near the summit of Guanella Pass. Last operated for the 1983/84 season. Supposedly the lifts and lodge were upgraded in 1986, but the area did not open for the 86/87 season. Was to be renamed ALPENBACH then, and was originally called INDIANHEAD from 1962 to 1965. [two new buyers have made proposals to the NFS in 1992] [Note: Now peremanently closed and lifts removed.]

Vertical drop: 1250 ft Top: 11,750 Base: 10,500

Lifts: 2 double chairs, 2 pomas


HOOSIER PASS (same), [obscure], Two trails are visible on the northeast side of the pass as you head south. It is not clear that there where ever any lifts. A 1940 reference says "tow serves novice trails". A 1950 reference mentions two trails, "tows: none".




2. And here are the Ski Area Descriptions from our last post:


BAKER MOUNTAIN (Rabbit Ears Pass), [closed], Located on (and sometimes called) Rabbit Ears Pass. Appears in a 1940 guide, the 1952 Ormes Mountain Guide ("lighted night skiing"), and 1962-64 highway maps. There is a "Baker Mtn" on the east side of the pass, south side of US 40. Boris, one of our new field agents (and his lovely wife Natasha) checked it out recently. The area is on Baker Mtn but, curiously, faces south and east. There is a foundation from the base lodge but no lift remnants.


CALICO HILL (Durango), [alternate name], This is just another name for CHAPMAN HILL which we covered in Lost Edition #1. The ski area was known as DURANGO in the 60's, CALICO HILL in the 70's, and CHAPMAN HILL since.


CONTINENTAL SKI COURSE (Climax), [alternate name], Sometime early name for the CLIMAX ski area. There was a "Continental Ski Club" at the CLIMAX area and the area is located on the "Continental" Divide. The area was built by the Climax Molybdenum Mine opposite the mine at the top of Fremont Pass. Operated from 1936 to the late fifties. First area in Colorado to be lighted for night skiing.

Vertical drop: Top: Base: 11,350

Lifts: 1 t-bar


CRANOR HILL (Gunnison), [open, small], Located about 3 miles north of town and 1/2 mile east of Hiway 135. The lift is visible from the highway on treeless terrain. Opened in 1964.

Vertical drop: 262 ft Top: 8162 Base: 7900

Lifts: 1 poma, 1 rope tow


HOLIDAY HILLS (Woodland Park), [closed 1971], Small area a few miles west and south of Woodland Park on the flanks of Pikes Peak within the "Holiday Hills" subdivision. Operated six seasons from 1965 to 1971. The Colorado Skier made a field trip there recently. Altho the area is hard to find, there are several lift remnant, including a V-8 truck engine used to power one rope tow. The day lodge (at the top of the ski area) is presently a private residence. [Note: The area is now posted, but you can drive across one trail.]


Vertical drop: 400 ft Top: 9600 Base: 9200

Lifts: 1 j-bar, 3 rope tows




3. Follow up to Edition #1 (answers to questions)


a. What is a Mitey Mite? Answer: A Mitey Mite is the brand name for a rope tow with handles, sometimes called a "handle tow" or a "pony". It is sometimes also spelled "mitey mite" or "mighty mite".


b. Why isn't the BERTHOUD top elevation shown as 12,015 feet? Answer: The elevations and vertical drop for Berthoud have changed more often than any other ski area we know of. The top elevation, base elevation, and vertical drop have changed a total of 11 times in the last 25 years even with the same lifts! Most of the "data" published by the area is wrong. Either they can't read topo maps or they have very long noses. Read on.

First the ground rules: 1) The data we listed for BERTHOUD PASS is from the Colorado Ski Country USA yearly guide books and is for the NEW Borvig lifts. 2) We list elevations and verticals for lift served area only, not for the shuttle bus. 3) The Berthoud Pass (highway) elevation is 11,315 feet. The ski area is at the top of the pass. The lifts go up. Therefore the Base Elevation is always 11,315 feet.

The original chairlift supposedly had a vertical drop of 685 feet. That means the top elevation must be 12,000 feet. (that number is not supported by topo maps - read on) In the late 60's the vertical drop of Berthoud suddenly changed to 1000 feet, then 973 ft, then 978, and then to 993 feet, with no lift changes. Then the top elevation changed to 12,280 feet and then to 12,015 feet which became the popular number. One year the vertical drop was listed at 1415 feet, using the shuttle bus. That was wrong, too - see below).

The big revelation came in 1987 when the area became TIMBERLINE. Timberline used a topo map in their ads and the map clearly revealed that the highest knob on the west side of the pass (served by the chair) was at 11,963 feet. However, right next to that figure, were the added numbers "12,015 ft". Apparently the chairlift let you off 52 feet in the air. Talk about chutzpah! The lower bus stops were also shown (accurately) on the map and show the max vertical as 1030 feet, not the 1415 ft which Timberline claimed. Note that the Borvig lift served area starting in 1989, claimed a shuttle served vertical of over 1000 feet, which is correct.

Heard enuff? 2 more. For a while Berthoud Pass was reporting a base elev of 11,022 feet which is 300 feet below the base lodge - once again no lifts. And, in 1971 they advertised a base of 10,307 and top of 11,307 putting the whole ski area below the base lodge and below all of the lifts! Is that crazy or what?

And you wonder why we don't use 12,015 as the top elevation?

To recap, these are our best guesses (new = Borvig lifts):

Old area: Top: 11,880 Base: 11,315 Vertical drop: 565 ft

New area: Top: 11,850 Base: 11,315 Vertical drop: 535 ft

If you have any suspicions about other areas, ask. We will do the research. The Colorado Skier is in favor of truth, justice, and fresh powder. We have a great story about Ski Broadmoor which we will share another time and also have problems with Breck and Copper which have added vertical drop without building lifts.


c. Are you sure that BERTHOUD PASS had the first rope in Colorado, and not CLIMAX? Answer: We are not prepared to defend the first rope tow date (at ANY area) with much vigor but will tell you what we know. It is well documented that BERTHOUD opened, with a rope tow, on 7 Feb 1937. Our records show that the CLIMAX ski area, on Fremont Pass opened in 1936. But, they had a T-bar, not a rope tow. Gotcha!

The rope tow was invented in Canada in 1932, and the first installation in the U.S. (Vermont) was in 1934. It would seem, then, that the technology and interest were available to build a rope tow in Colorado in 1935 or 36. Indeed there were many portable rope tows in the late 30's. But, as for first? Who can be certain?

For the record, the first permanent ski lift of any kind in Colorado was the "boat tow" on HOWELSEN HILL in 1934. The Aspen boat tow on ROCH RUN came along later in 1937. The first single chairlift was at _____. Whoops! Better stop, before we blow a good trivia question!


d. Thanks for the two "new" ski areas:

CHAUTAUQUA PARK, in Boulder. One rope tow. What years? Was it fixed or portable? Has anybody seen it?

RIST CANYON, west of Fort Collins. What years? Is the T-bar still there?




4. Who remembers these Lost Colorado Ski Areas?








And the list goes on and on and on ...


BONUS QUESTION: Name four (4) former Colorado ski area GONDOLAs which have been removed or replaced.


Cheers from The Colorado Skier


Hosted by Yahoo! Web Hosting