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Knowledge of the land is one of the unassailable privileges that comes with being a local. We all have our powder stashes—deep within a glade, just beyond boundaries or a short trek from the chairlift. These places ensure fresh tracks and respite from the rat race. For some Breckenridge locals, Peak 6 is one such place.
Fresh powder on the area of the proposed Peak 6 expansion, as seen from near the boundary of Breckenridge Ski Resort. [Photo] Jesse Peterson
“From the Independence Chair, it’s an hour and a half skin to the summit,” says longtime Breckenridge resident Ellen Hollinshead. “Peak 6 is one of the few places that doesn’t see nasty weather, and it’s mostly avalanche safe.” Because it’s unknown to many even in Breckenridge, Hollinshead says Peak 6 is a quiet place; a haven from the crowds lured over the Front Range each weekend. It’s a haven for wildlife, too, with healthy forests that offer ideal habitat for the endangered Canada lynx. But all that is threatened, and not just by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic.
Breckenridge Ski Resort and the proposed Peak 6 expansion. [Source] Breckenridge Ski Resort
In 2008, Breckenridge Ski Resort (BSR) proposed an expansion to Peak 6.
The expansion would add 450 acres of terrain. A new high-speed six-person chairlift would move up to 3,000 skiers per hour 1,670 vertical feet to an ultimate elevation of 12,293 feet. The current proposal includes no base development, and a Memorandum of Understanding with the town of Breckenridge affirms it would stay that way.
Currently, the White River National Forest is working on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposal. The draft is due out this spring and once published, it will be available for public comment. These comments will be considered in the National Forest’s Final Environmental Impact Statement. That document must disclose the environmental effects of the action, enumerate the factors considered in making a decision on the proposal and identify alternatives. It will provide a way forward, determining at once the future of BSR’s crowded trails and the fate of a precious piece of backcountry terrain.