By Dave Philipps
It has been 17 years since the last local ski area closed and many have predicted that ski lifts would never turn in the Pikes Peak region again. But Wednesday a local investor said he plans to open a small ski resort on the back of Pikes Peak.
John Ball, former C.E.O. of Eller Industries, a Boulder-based broadband company, has a contract with local climbing legend Harvey Carter to buy 320 acres of land just south of The Crags on the west side of Pikes Peak. He plans to build “The Resort at Pikes Peak,” a small, renewable energy-powered ski area with slopeside condos.
He envisions it as a community hill used mainly by people in El Paso and Teller Counties. It could eventually include five chairlifts, 33 ski trails,three restaurants, a 300
It is one of a growing trend in niche family hills that survive in the shadows of coporate giants like Vail by being closer and more convenient.
“It would be like Eldora, just above Boulder,” Ball said Wednesday. “People don’t necessarily come from out of state to ski it, but the community loves it because its so close. My kids can take the bus up to Eldora in 30 minutes.”
The Pikes Peak plan is still in its infancy. It needs approval from the Teller County Commissioners, who are not yet aware of the plan, including detailed plans for road access, water and sewer lines. Since the road would cross Pike National Forest, it will also need approval from the U.S. Forest Service.
The talk of a ski area on Carter’s land may have some longtime local skiers saying “not again.”
Harvey Carter, 77, who, among other things, worked for 22 years as an Aspen ski patroller and founded Climbing magazine, has been trying to build a ski area on the backside of Pikes Peak for the better part of 50 years.
“It’s the only place on the peak you could do it,” he said Wednesday. “It gets the most snow. It has private land right where it would need to be at the base. And it’s high enough.”
Carter’s long-term measurements on land, which is at 10,500 feet, show the area gets an average of 12 feet of snow — almost twice that of other slopes on Pikes Peak.
He has been courting investors since the 1960s,<>