Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

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January 3, 2013
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Website doesn't give Snowmass its due

A website that ranks North American ski resorts by the biggest lift-served descents doesn't appear to be giving Snowmass Ski Area its due.

VerticalFeet.com has Snowmass listed as fifth in North America for overall vertical feet offered from lift-served skiing. When the Cirque platter pull lift is operating, Snowmass offers 4,406 vertical feet, both the Aspen Skiing Co. and VerticalFeet.com agreed. The long descent takes skiers and riders down Rocky Mountain High, onto the Big Burn, then to the base of Fanny Hill.

VerticalFeet.com ranks Snowmass one place behind Telluride. The website says Telluride offers the most vertical feet of lift-served skiing of any ski area in the U.S. at 4,425.

That's a claim Aspen Skiing Co. disputes. On its trail map this season, it says Snowmass has "the country's biggest lift-served descent."

Telluride Ski Resort won't argue. Its website acknowledges it offers 4,425 feet of total vertical drop but 3,845 feet of lift-served vertical drop.

VerticalFeet.com says it offers "accurate, lift-served vertical feet totals for most North American ski areas and resorts," but somehow it fouled the assessment of Telluride. The operator of the site, who isn't identified, says he or she has visited many of the 130 ski areas on the list to personally try to verify the descent offered by lift-served skiing, but the website acknowledges mistakes might have been made.

"This page is for your use and enjoyment," the website says. "Not responsible for any loss or damage due to inaccuracies (like failing a school report, losing a bar bet, or changing your ski club trip based on this info)."

Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle said websites such as VerticalFeet.com attract diehard skiers and riders, and people interested in the trivia of the ski industry. While it would be nice to see accurate information, he hasn't tried to contact the website operators to correct the mistake that bumps Snowmass to second in the U.S.

"It just seems petty for me to do it," Hanle said.

What is clear is that resorts in British Columbia claim the top-three spots on the list. Revelstoke in British Columbia claims bragging rights for the most vertical feet of lift-served skiing at 5,620. Blackcomb and Whistler are right behind at 5,133 and 4,978 vertical feet, respectively.

After Telluride and Snowmass, rounding out the top 10 are Big Sky, Mont.; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; Kicking Horse, B.C.; Beaver Creek, Colo.; and Panorama, B.C.

Aspen Highlands came in at 11th on the list with 3,635 vertical feet of lift-served skiing. It's considerably more from top to bottom for those hiking Highland Bowl.

Aspen Mountain was 19th on the list with its longest run of lift-served skiing coming in at 3,267 vertical feet.

Way down the list at about 80th was Buttermilk at 2,030 vertical feet, right ahead of Sunlight Mountain Resort outside of Glenwood Springs at 2,011 vertical feet.

The ski area with the least vertical feet of lift-served skiing was Sawkill Family Ski Center in Kingston, N.Y. with 70 feet. Another notable ski area is Yawgoo Valley in Rhode Island, with 245 vertical feet. It is the only ski area in the state.

Ski Snowstar in Hidden Lake, Iowa, boasts "the biggest vertical drop in a 52-mile radius," according to VerticalFeet.com. It has 262 vertical feet of lift-served skiing.

The historic Berthoud Pass ski area in Colorado offered 933 vertical feet before it closed in April 2001.

Arapahoe Basin in Colorado has the highest double-chair in the world, which climbs to 12,478 feet. It offers 1,680 vertical feet. A 577-foot hike boosts the total to 2,257 vertical feet.

Alta, Utah, a legendary ski area, offers only 2,020 vertical feet of lift-served skiing.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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The Post Independent Updated Jan 3, 2013 12:58AM Published Jan 3, 2013 12:56AM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.