Peaks 8, 9 and 10 viewed from
Dercum Mountain at Keystone Resort
|Location||White River National Forest
Summit County, Colorado
|Vertical||3,398 ft (1,036 m)|
|Top elevation||12,998 ft (3,962 m)|
|Base elevation||9,600 ft (2,926 m)|
|Skiable area||2,908 acres (11.77 km2)|
- 14% beginner
- 31% intermediate
- 19% advanced
- 36% expert
|Longest run||Four O'Clock
3.5 miles (5.6 km)
|Lift system||32 total (1 gondola, 4 high-speed six-packs, 6 high-speed quads, 1 fixed grip quad, 1 triple chairlift, 6 double chairlifts, 13 surface)|
|Terrain parks||25 acres (10 ha)|
|Snowfall||370 in (940 cm) per year|
|Snowmaking||600 acres (2.4 km2)|
Breckenridge Ski Resort is an alpine ski resort in the western United States, in Breckenridge, Colorado. Just west of the Continental Divide in Summit County, it is perennially one of the most visited ski resorts in the western hemisphere. Breckenridge is owned and operated by Vail Resorts, Inc., which also operates other ski resorts in Colorado (Vail, Beaver Creek, and Keystone), Utah (Park City Mountain Resort), Michigan (Mt. Brighton), Minnesota (Afton Alps), and California (Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Northstar at Lake Tahoe).
The mountain first opened on December 16, 1961, consisting of trails on Peak 8 serviced currently by the Colorado SuperChair. The main lift was a double chairlift, Lift 1, which had a midway unloading station. Lift 1 ran from the base area up to a point slightly west of the top of the current Colorado SuperChair. This small butte overlooks the Rocky Mountain SuperChair and is accessible by hiking from the Vista Haus along a short dirt road in the summer.
A year later, a double chairlift was installed up the double-black trail Mach One. The lift, later numbered Lift 3, ran from near the present-day Peak 8 SuperConnect's midway load station up to near the top of Lift 5.
In 1965, Lift 1 was supplemented by Lift 2, constructed to serve the south part of Peak 8. A base lodge was also opened on Peak 8, but it was destroyed in an explosion (suspected to be caused by a gas leak) shortly after completion. Breckenridge expanded into high alpine terrain with the construction of a platter lift from near the top of Lift 2 to near the top of the current Lift 6 in 1967.
In 1970, Breckenridge was purchased by the Aspen Skiing Company. From 1970 to 1978, the resort expanded onto Peak 9, opening four Riblet double chairlifts (Lift 4 on Peak 8, Lifts B, C, and D on Peak 9) and one triple chairlift (Lift A). Lift A serviced beginner terrain, while Lift C services trails on the north part of the main Peak 9 face. Lift D ran from near the bottom of the Beaver Run SuperChair to near the top of the EpicMix course on Sundown. Lift B ran alongside Cashier, running from the top of the original Quicksilver SuperChair and offloading at the top of the Mercury SuperChair. In 1979, Lift 6 replaced the Peak 8 platter lift. Also in 1979, an alpine slide was constructed on Peak 8 under Lift 5. The slide is composed of three fiberglass tubes - Lanes "A", "B", and "C". "A" and "B" are for slower and inexperienced riders and run parallel to each other. Lane "C" is for solo, more experienced riders, and follows a significantly different alignment from the other two lanes, with a different arrangement of turns, including the presence of a triple-down drop and one more steep straightaway drop. The Alpine slide has mostly been unchanged since construction, the only alteration being a redesign of the lower section of the layout for both tracks as part of One Ski Hill Place construction in 2009.
Breckenridge and other ski resorts faced a severe drought in the winter of 1980-1981 and installed snowmaking systems the following year. In 1981, Breckenridge installed the world's first high speed detachable quad chairlift, the Quicksilver Quad, running from the Village base area to near the bottom of Lift B. The lift was constructed by Doppelmayr.
In 1983, Riblet constructed Lift E, a double chairlift servicing the north-facing chutes on Peak 9.
In 1984, Doppelmayr constructed the T-Bar, providing access to most of Peak 8's bowl terrain.
In 1985, Breckenridge expanded to Peak 10, with the opening of Lift F, a Poma fixed grip quad. A year later, it was upgraded to a high speed quad and renamed the Falcon SuperChair. Runs on Peak 10 were named by mountain manager Jim Gill after World War II planes, like Crystal, Cimarron, Doublejack and Mustang. Also in 1986, the Colorado SuperChair was built on Peak 8, replacing Lift 1. The replacement lift ran a different alignment from its predecessor, running up the south side of Spruce and ending at the Vista Haus. With the addition of both the Colorado SuperChair and the Falcon SuperChair, each open peak had one high speed quad on it. All chairlifts built at Breckenridge since these two lifts have been built by Poma, or its successor, Leitner-Poma.
In the 1987-1988 ski season, Breckenridge topped one million skier visits, as it was sold to Victoria Ltd of Tokyo. Local residents supported the change in ownership, as some believed that the Aspen Skiing Company was exploiting revenue from Breckenridge to support its own four ski areas. Despite Aspen's withdrawal of ownership, there are still remnants of this ownership that can still be found around the mountain, in the form of a small number of trail signs scattered around Peaks 9 and 10.
In 1990, Peak 9 received its second high speed quad with the addition of the Beaver Run SuperChair, which replaced Lift D and provided top-to-bottom lift service on Peak 9. It is the longest operating lift on the mountain (1.7 miles), and also has the largest vertical drop of any chairlift on the mountain (1,600 feet). A few of Lift D's towers were repurposed as a lift evacuation training area, located just uphill from where the Beaver Run SuperChair crosses under the Peak 8 SuperConnect.
Breckenridge and Keystone were purchased by Vail Resorts in 1996, joining the company's other ski areas of Beaver Creek and Vail Ski Resort. Also in 1996, Poma constructed the Snowflake double chairlift, providing mountain access for a number of condominium developments off of Four O'Clock Road. The lift has a midway load partway up that provides access from Peak 9 to Peak 8 as an alternative route to the Peak 8 SuperConnect. The highlight of the lift is a complex 45 degree turn just above the midway load station. As the lift runs clockwise, uphill chairs make a simple 45 degree turn, while downhill chairs must make two separate turns and a 315 degree clockwise turn, plus cross over themselves.
In 1997, two aging double chairlifts were removed and two new high speed quads were built. On Peak 9, the Mercury SuperChair replaced Lift B. It runs parallel to the Beaver Run SuperChair, originating just uphill from the bottom of Lift A to make it accessible from Peak 10 and Ten Mile Station, but ends farther uphill, closer to the top of Lift E. The Mercury SuperChair is not the first lift on Peak 9 to use this name, as the name was previously used on the Beaver Run SuperChair before 1993. On Peak 8, the Rocky Mountain SuperChair was built to allow easier access from Peak 8 base to the T-Bar and north Peak 8 trails, eliminating the need to take a lengthy traverse from the Colorado SuperChair. Following later expansions northwards onto Peak 7 and Peak 6, the Rocky Mountain SuperChair became a major access lift to transit from Peak 8 base area to both peaks.
In 1998, Ten Mile Station opened at the bottom of the Falcon SuperChair, replacing the Falcon's Aerie restaurant at the top of Peak 10. The following year, the original Quicksilver SuperChair was replaced with Quicksilver Super6, a high speed six pack. The original quad was relocated to Owl's Head resort in Quebec, where it still operates. Quicksilver Super6 runs from the Village base area up the Silverthorne trail (to the south of Lift A) and ends at Ten Mile Station. It also carries the unique distinction of being North America's first and only double-loading chairlift. The bottom terminal of the lift has two separate loading areas, with an automated switch piece of railing being utilized to direct every other chair to the second loading station. Coinciding with this was the addition of a midway unload station on Lift A near where it passes the top of Quicksilver Super6, allowing skier traffic to bail out early for access to Ten Mile Station.
Breckenridge carried out a massive expansion and lift upgrade in 2002, the largest terrain expansion in Colorado that year. The project also entailed the construction of two new Leitner-Poma chairlifts. The first significant addition was the addition of intermediate trails on Peak 7, in the space to the north of Claimjumper and below the cat-track used by skiers to return from Peak 7's bowls. A high speed six pack, named the Independence SuperChair, was built to service the new terrain. At a time when high speed six packs were still very rare, Breckenridge became the first ski resort in Colorado with more than one high speed six pack.
In addition to Peak 7, a new high speed quad was built to connect Peak 9 to Peak 8. The Peak 8 SuperConnect replaced the aging Lift 4 and improved navigation between the two peaks (prior to 2002, transitioning from Peak 9 to Peak 8 required going to the top of Peak 9 and taking a black trail called Shock or a blue run called Union to the bottom of Lift 4). It originates on Peak 9 at the junction of the trails Red Rover and Sundown (just down a hill from Lift A), crosses over the Beaver Run SuperChair and Lift C, runs to a midway load and turn station at Lift 4's loading station, then runs up Lift 4's line to end near the Vista Haus. To guarantee that chairs are available for people using the mid-station, a system of automatic loading gates was introduced. These gates open when the chairs are turning into the loading area and activate a sensor. The gates are programmed to send select chairs through the bottom terminal empty, to be filled by people loading at the midstation.
A big drawback of the Peak 8 alpine bowls from the beginning was that much of the terrain required taking a lengthy 45 minute hike from the top of the T-Bar up the ridge, rendering them inaccessible for the most part, as this meant people had to endure a hike in cold temperatures and strong winds in excess of 35 mph. In 2005, this problem was alleviated when Leitner-Poma constructed a new high speed quad, which outdid Loveland Ski Area's Chair 9 to become the highest operating chairlift in North America. Originating at the top of Lift 6 and topping out just below the summit of Peak 8 at 12,840 feet (3,910 m), the Imperial Express SuperChair services the Imperial Bowl and cut the 45 minute hike to a 3-minute lift ride. The T-Bar was retained, as it provides round-trip access to trails in the Contest Bowl and the area immediately north of it.
Construction of a new eight-person gondola was announced on March 12, 2006, meant to serve as a replacement to the ski area buses on Ski Hill Road. In early 2007, the BreckConnect Gondola opened to the public, improving access from the town to Peak 8 base area. It originates at the transit center off of Park Avenue and Ski Hill Road, and runs up to a first midway turn station at Shock Hill, servicing a condominium development. From here, the gondola travels across the Cucumber Gulch preserve, to just below Peak 7, where it has a second turn terminal and station, servicing Peak 7 base area, the Independence SuperChair, Crystal Peak Lodge, and the Grand Lodge on Peak 7. The gondola then takes a final hop to reach Peak 8 base. The BreckConnect has an hourly capacity of 3,000 pph, and runs every day of winter operations, as well as every day of fun park operations in the summer. For the gondola's first two years of operation, the Peak 7 base area had not yet been developed, and the Peak 7 station merely functioned as a turn terminal.
In 2008, Breckenridge began developing Peak 8 and Peak 7, intending to make Peak 8 the mountain's central hub. This was noticeable in that beginning in 2008, the mountain started opening with Peak 8 first before opening Peak 9 in the early season. From 2008 to 2010, One Ski Hill Place was constructed at Peak 8 base, in between Lift 5 and Lift 7, on what used to be a parking lot, and opened to the public in 2010. The lodge has a new food court facility and a cocktail lounge known as the T-Bar (not to be confused with the T-Bar servicing Horseshoe Bowl). Also in 2008, a new base area opened on Peak 7 at the BreckConnect Gondola's second midstation. Two lodges, the Crystal Peak Lodge and Grand Lodge on Peak 7, anchor the base area. As part of construction, the Independence SuperChair was extended downhill, its bottom terminal now located between Crystal Peak Lodge and Grand Lodge's south building and Ski Hill Road immediately north of Peak 8 base was rerouted.
In November 2010, the GoldRunner Coaster was constructed in the woods adjacent to Lift 7. The alpine coaster runs winter and summer and supplements the fun park's activities.
The 2011-12 ski season marked the ski resort's 50th anniversary season, with the resort implementing a year-long celebration in honor of a half-century since the resort was founded on December 16, 1961.
While no new lifts were built in 2012, the Colorado SuperChair received new chairs, replacing the original chairs that had been used since the lift's original construction. Loading gates at all of the high speed quads were also removed, leaving just the Independence SuperChair, Quicksilver Super6, and the Peak 8 SuperConnect with loading gates (the Independence SuperChair would lose its loading gates one year later; Quicksilver still uses gates because it is a double loading lift and the Peak 8 SuperConnect uses them because it has a midway load station).
In 2013, Breckenridge carried out a massive expansion with the opening of a long-awaited 543 acre expansion onto Peak 6. The expansion was first conceived in 2005, but construction of it was delayed due to opposition from groups that alleged that the expansion would destroy lynx habitat. Peak 6 expanded the resort's in-bounds terrain by 23%, and was the first major expansion at a Colorado ski resort since the construction of the Independence SuperChair in 2002. A new fixed-grip quad and high speed six pack were built as part of the expansion: the quad, known as the Zendo Chair, originates on Peak 7 at the junction of Monte Cristo and Angel's Rest, and travels to the Horizon Warming Hut at 10,800 feet, and is the primary route to access Peak 6. To allow direct access from the Rocky Mountain SuperChair to Zendo, a new trail called the Peak 6 Parkway was opened on Peak 7, consisting of a trail segment linking Pioneer to Wirepatch, and another downhill from that cutting from Wirepatch over to Lincoln Meadows. From the Horizon hut, the six pack, known as the Kensho SuperChair, transports visitors above timberline to an altitude of 12,302 feet and provides access to intermediate bowl terrain. The new six pack is the second highest lift on the mountain, behind only the Imperial Express SuperChair. Trail and lift names on Peak 6 reflect a common theme of the resort's Peak 6 branding, "Awaken Your Sixth Sense". The choice of trail names was historic in that they were selected by way of a crowdsourced naming contest on the resort's Facebook page, the first time this had ever been done by a ski resort. Zendo and the Kensho SuperChair opened to skier traffic on December 25, 2013, expanding the resort to 2,908 acres spread across five peaks.
On March 29, 2013, Breckenridge announced that the resort had launched plans to completely re-imagine the Fun Park's summer activity offerings on the mountain as part of the Vail Resorts Epic Discovery summer program, launched in the summer of 2015. This includes the construction of several zip lines on Peak 8 and Peak 7. The first of these was the Ten Mile Flyer on Peak 8, constructed immediately adjacent to the GoldRunner Coaster's lift hill, and opened on January 22, 2014.
For 2014, Leitner-Poma upgraded the Colorado SuperChair to a high speed six pack. It is the resort's fourth six pack, and increased the lift's uphill capacity from 2,800 people per hour to 3,600 people per hour, easing congestion on Peak 8, especially during the early season when it is the sole intermediate terrain lift open. The Colorado SuperChair is the first six pack on the mountain to use a conveyor loading belt, similar to a system that is widely utilized at many European ski resorts, which cuts down on stops and slows due to falls in the loading area. It is also the second lift on the mountain to have such a carpet belt, after Rip's Ride (also on Peak 8). In addition to the Colorado SuperChair, the Beaver Run SuperChair received new chairs taken from the original Colorado SuperChair. The Peak 9 Restaurant at the top of Lift C was renovated and turned into a new facility known as the Overlook Restaurant, after the original owners' lease expired at the end of the 2013-2014 season.
For 2016, a new restaurant, Pioneer Crossing, was opened at the top of the Independence SuperChair, replacing a warming hut that had existed there since the opening of Peak 7.
In a December 9, 2016 release, it was announced that the Falcon SuperChair, at this point more than 30 years old, would be upgraded by Leitner-Poma to a high speed six pack for the 2017 season. With the upgrade, each of the five peaks has one high speed six pack on it, with only Peaks 8 and 9 containing high speed quads.
Breckenridge is spread out across the five peaks that make up the southern half of the Tenmile Range.
Peak 10 is the southernmost peak on the mountain, comprising black and double black trails, accessible from the Falcon SuperChair. The advanced terrain on Peak 10 varies, from groomers underneath and near the lift, to glades on the north side of the Peak 10 ridge, and double black chutes on the far south side.
Until they were replaced beginning in 2012, Peak 10 directional trail signs could be identified with yellow arrows.
The second oldest peak, the lower part of Peak 9 is a beginner learning slope, accessed by Quicksilver Super6 and Lift A. On the upper part of Peak 9 are intermediate blue runs serviced by the Mercury SuperChair, Beaver Run SuperChair, and Lift C. On the north side of Peak 9, facing towards Peak 8, are the North Chutes, double black-rated chutes serviced by Lift E. Lift E also functions as an access lift to transition from Peak 8 to Peaks 9 and 10.
Until they were replaced beginning in 2012, Peak 9 directional trail signs could be identified with orange arrows.
Lower Peak 8 consists of beginner trails, as well as many intermediate trails mixed with some advanced runs. There are four lifts out of the base area: Lift 7, which services a beginner learning area; Lift 5, which services more advanced beginner terrain, the Freeway and Park Lane Terrain Parks, and the Alpine Slide. At the north end of the base area, the Colorado SuperChair provides access to the Vista Haus, central Peak 8, as well as access to the Peak 8 back bowls and Peak 9, while the Rocky Mountain SuperChair provides access to northern Peak 8, the T-Bar, Peak 7, and Peak 6.
Peak 8 is home to some of the premier terrain parks in the country, as freeskiers and riders have their pick of Freeway (black diamond rated) and Park Lane (blue rated) terrain parks, which are home to the 27-person Breck Pro Team, as well as numerous other extreme sports from around the world who use the parks to prepare for such events as The Dew Tour and X-Games.
The back bowls, and upper part of Peak 8, are composed of advanced and expert terrain. The Peak 8 back bowl area is composed of expert chutes. The lower part of this area is accessible by the Peak 8 SuperConnect's midway load station, while the upper part is accessible by Lift 6. Two lifts on Peak 8 go above tree-line: the T-Bar, accessible from the Rocky Mountain SuperChair, services northern Peak 8's chutes. The Imperial Express SuperChair, reachable from Lift 6, is North America's highest operating chairlift, and services the Imperial Bowl, the Lake Chutes, and access to the Peak 7 Bowl, which includes some very difficult terrain with slopes up to 55 degrees. Hiking from the top of the Imperial lift allows access to the summit of Peak 8 and a variety of cornices and chutes. It can get very windy and cold at the top, and in poor visibility conditions the peak will usually be closed. The Lake Chutes, a series of daunting chutes with an incline of up to 55 degrees is reachable from the top of Imperial. The chutes are some of the steepest terrain in the region, running vertically for about 400 feet (122 m).
Until they were replaced beginning in 2012, Peak 8 directional trail signs could be identified with purple arrows.
Peak 7's bowls are accessible by hiking from the T-Bar or a traverse from the top of the Imperial Express SuperChair. The lower part of Peak 7 is an area of rolling intermediate trails, groomed nightly. Peak 7's base area is composed of two large lodges, the Crystal Peak Lodge and the Grand Lodge on Peak 7, and is connected to town by one of two midway stations on the BreckConnect Gondola. The base area also has a restaurant, Sevens, opened in February 2009. Peak 7's terrain is serviced by the Independence SuperChair. The Zendo lift used to access Peak 6 also begins on Peak 7.
Until they were replaced beginning in 2012, Peak 7 directional trail signs could be identified with red arrows.
Peak 6, to the north of Peak 7, is also geared primarily to intermediate skiers and riders, but also includes a large amount of advanced terrain and chutes. Access to Peak 6 is provided by the Zendo Chair, originating at the bottom of Angel's Rest on Peak 7 and terminating at the Horizon warming hut at 10,800 feet. From the Horizon warming hut, the Kensho SuperChair runs above timberline to an altitude of 12,302 feet, providing direct access to intermediate bowl trails, with further access to chutes in the Serenity Bowl (to the south) and Beyond Bowl (to the north) via a short hike from the top.
In December 2008, Breckenridge hosted the first Winter Dew Tour. It was the first action sports tour for winter sports and is owned and operated by Alli, the Alliance of Action Sports.
Breckenridge continues to host the event annually in the 2nd or 3rd weekend in December each year. In the 2012/13 season, the Dew Tour was condensed to only 1 winter stop, with Breck being the only winter host, in addition to the Dew Tour's other beach & urban stops. Currently the Dew Tour is contracted to operate in Breck through the 2013/14 season.
Many of the top athletes in action sports from around the world continue to participate in the Winter Dew Tour. The Breck Pro Team usually constitutes many of the athletes each year, and are jointed by other participants such as Shaun White, Hannah Teter, Tanner Hall, Andreas Wiig, Gretchen Bleiler, Simon Dumont, Sarah Burke, Tom Wallisch, and Travis Rice.
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