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Mountain/Alpine Coaster or Alpine Slide Discussion Thread

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^I'm so glad to see more of these popping up! Hopefully one will come to SoCal soon, but since our ski resorts aren't exactly the biggest, I'm not holding my breath. I'd love to see one at Snow Summit or Bear Mountain. Right as you come into Big Bear there's that little FEC called Magic Mountain with an Alpine Slide, I think they'd be the most likely to add an Alpine Coaster.


Don't worry. Ski areas big and small are installing these. They're a huge money maker for summer and winter. What ski resort doesn't want that?

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^I'm so glad to see more of these popping up! Hopefully one will come to SoCal soon, but since our ski resorts aren't exactly the biggest, I'm not holding my breath. I'd love to see one at Snow Summit or Bear Mountain. Right as you come into Big Bear there's that little FEC called Magic Mountain with an Alpine Slide, I think they'd be the most likely to add an Alpine Coaster.


Don't worry. Ski areas big and small are installing these. They're a huge money maker for summer and winter. What ski resort doesn't want that?


True enough and Snow Summit in Big Bear greatly expanded their summer activities this year. How about one at the top of the Palm Springs Tram?

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I went and Rode the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster a couple of weeks ago and had a blast. I was talking to a few of the guys who helped apparently build and fund the ride! They said that if things go well they hope to build a second longer, faster, and more thrilling version, on the same property! Lets hope this happens!

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It sounds like complaints are based on the proposed addition of an alpine slide and/or mountain coaster, but I haven't seen the proposed idea.


Feds’ direction on ski areas scrutinized

by Scott Condon


A coalition of conservation groups wants the Forest Service to reconsider its proposal to allow ski areas to charge a fee for uphill use.


A coalition of eight conservation groups is fighting to prevent ski areas from adding roller-coaster-like rides for summer business and from restricting access for winter uphill skiers and snowshoers.


The coalition filed comments with the U.S. Forest Service on Nov. 25 on a proposed national directive by the agency that will set the rules for summer activities and clarify that a fee can be charged for uphillers.


Rocky Smith, a longtime forest-policy analyst for conservation groups in Colorado, said the potential for the “coaster” rides was the most alarming part of the directive for the group.


“The law says, ‘There shall not be amusement parks in ski areas,’” he said. But Vail Resorts has applied to the Forest Service to install a “forest flier” at its flagship ski area, Vail Mountain.


“Forest fliers are roller coasters, which in turn are an amusement ride,” said the comments submitted by the coalition. “The directive must prevent ski areas from becoming or hosting amusement parks.”


Congress passed the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act in 2011. U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, introduced the bill to define what ski areas can and cannot do on federal lands within their permit areas for summer activities. Now the Forest Service is working on the rules necessary to implement the law. It is taking public comment on its proposal through Dec. 2.


Udall’s act authorizes zip lines, mountain-bike terrain parks and trails, disc-golf courses and rope courses. It prohibits tennis courts, water slides and parks, swimming pools, golf courses and amusement parks.


Smith said the big issue is the Forest Service’s interpretation of “amusement park.” Ski areas are understandably seeking ways to improve their bottom line, he said, so they want a broad interpretation of what is allowable during summers. The coalition is concerned that the Forest Service will side with the ski industry by allowing “coasters” — a ride where a sled-like container with wheels glides along on rails that whisk through the forest.


“They are really playing fast and loose with the language,” Smith said, referring to the Forest Service.


The proposal for a “coaster” isn’t expected to be isolated to Vail. White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams previously said that several ski areas are watching how Vail Mountain’s summer-adventure proposal will be reviewed to help them form their own summer plans.


So far, Aspen Skiing Co. has focused primarily on expanding its mountain-bike trail system at Snowmass’ Elk Camp for its summer activities. The company also has discussed the possibility of a zip line.


Smith said the conservation groups decided to submit comments after seeing how the Forest Service is interpreting an amusement park as two or more rides in close proximity to one another. That means that large ski areas could erect rides as long as they are a long distance apart. The coalition believes that violates the intent of Udall’s bill.


“With the emphasis on speed and the need for permanent metal structures, such facilities do no ‘harmonize with the natural environment,’ nor ‘encourage outdoor recreation of nature” as required by the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act, the coalition said in its comments.


The coalition wants wording that says “no amusement-park rides can be allowed at ski areas, period.”


Colorado Ski Country USA, a trade association for the state’s ski industry, is preparing comments but hasn’t submitted them yet, according to a spokeswoman.


The appropriate staff person couldn’t be reached at the Denver-based National Ski Areas Association because of the holiday week, so it couldn’t be determined whether the organization will weigh in.


In addition to defining what summer amenities will be allowed, the Forest Service’s directive clarifies that ski areas can charge uphill skiers and snowshoers for use of groomed trails, parking lots and other services.


The coalition suggested changes in wording to make sure ski areas cannot exclude non-paying members of the public.


“While use by such people can be limited to certain parts of a ski-area permit area and/or certain times of the day, the proposed language here is too loose to ensure that non-paying use would not be prohibited altogether,” the coalition’s comments said.


The members of the coalition that signed off on the comments are: Sheep Mountain Alliance, of Telluride; Sequoia ForestKeeper, of Kernville, Calif.; Conservation Congress, of Livingston, Mont.; Heartwood, of Bloomington, Ind.; WildEarth Guardians, of Santa Fe, N.M.; Klamath Forest Alliance, of Orleans, Calif.; Environmental Protection Information Center, of Arcata, Calif.; and Rocky Mountain Recreational Initative, of Nederland.


I'll try to find more details on the proposal.

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Sorry for the double post, but here is an article describing the fight the the locals are having with the proposed mountain coaster. Lots of propaganda as residents are just trying to protect their property value exaggerating what a mountain coaster is. Just look at the pictures in the attached article.


Beaver Creek residents sue to stop Vail Resorts from building coaster

By Jason Blevins

The Denver Post



Beaver Creek homeowners filed a lawsuit against Vail Resorts on Thursday, accusing the resort company of deception as it develops what they call an "amusement complex" at the privately owned base of the tony ski area.


The lawsuit, filed by the Beaver Creek Property Owners Association — which includes a dozen condominium groups with hundreds of owners — targets Vail Resorts and Eagle County, which approved the development plan.


"We don't know where this will go. Will there be more roller coasters? Will there be a Ferris wheel? Where will it stop?" said Barry Parker, vice-president of the homeowners association. "We are not against development. We are pro-Beaver Creek. We are pro-Colorado. We just want to protect and maintain the beauty of these very, very special outside environments."


They want to protect their investments too. Homeowners pay big dollars for property adjacent to the slopes of Beaver Creek, where the median listing price for homes is $4.3 million. Owners rely on covenants and design regulations — many of which were forged by the resort company in the late 1980s as Beaver Creek first developed — to safeguard property values.


"We believe Vail is violating its own documents," Parker said. "I can't do anything to the exterior of my house without approval from the design review board. Vail doesn't want to play by their own rules."


While the original 1988 county-approved development plan included an alpine slide, a 1994 amendment to the plan deleted any reference to alpine coasters.


"We allege it was deleted on purpose because Vail recognized it was not an appropriate use," said Tom Schouten, a board member and Beaver Creek homeowner.


When Vail floated an alpine coaster plan in 2006 — directly out of the Beaver Creek base village — residents objected, filing a lawsuit in 2007 and eventually persuading the resort to reconsider the project. Vail's Breckenridge ski area has an alpine coaster and the company's flagship Vail Mountain has included a similar "forest flyer" in its proposed summer development plans.


After meeting with residents and county officials several times this spring and summer, the resort moved its "forest flyer" further up the hill, with tracks about 550 feet from the nearest home and more than 1,300 feet from the base.


Doug Lovell, chief operating officer at Beaver Creek, said the homeowners group is "totally mischaracterizing the forest flyer," making sure to note that the track through the woods "is not a roller coaster."


The semantics is important. Federal legislation in 2011 urged more year-round development of recreational opportunities at ski areas but clearly forbade "amusement parks."


"We think the people at Elitch Gardens would be amused by their portrayal," Lovell said in an email.


"After spending so much time with property owners to respond to their concerns expressed in 2006 ... we are very surprised and disappointed that they are reactivating their lawsuit because our dramatically revised plans are responsive, terrific, and will engage a broader group of kids from different income and diverse backgrounds at our premier resort and in the outdoors as only we know how to do," Lovell said.


Still, some residents feel duped. The resort company a few years ago won support from the local homeowner groups for a children's center, with its own gondola and tubing course. Residents helped the company raise funds to support the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act.


In exchange, Parker said the resort company promised to find "a more suitable location" for its elevated forest flyer. (He calls it a "roller coaster.")


"They said it would be further up the mountain, out of sight and out of sound," Parker said. "This is a 3,000-foot elevated track within 150 yards of bedroom windows."


The land around the base area was locked into a conservation easement more than 20 years ago as part of a Beaver Creek deal with Eagle County. Colorado Open Lands holds that easement and director Dan Pike said while the easement does not specifically address roller coasters or forest flyers, it is "pretty permissive for improved recreational uses."


Pike said he hasn't seen any proposals from the resort company and couldn't comment on specifics until then. Still, he doesn't field many requests for alpine coasters on his conservation easements.


"That would be the first proposal we've ever had like that," he said.

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^As a Colorado resident that frequently visits these ski areas, I'd say the idea of developing year round activities would do very well for places like Vail and Braver Creek (the alpine coaster is quite popular at Breck during the whole year, and Peak 8 basically has a "Fun Park" on it with other entertainment). By adding options that can be either experienced year round or merely in the summer months (note Winter Park and Keystone's mountain bike parks, it expands the areas' appeal outside skiing/boarding.


As for the complaints of development, alpine coasters have a very minimal footprint, and (at least to me) don't detract from a mountain environment any more than a chairlift does. I do get a mild kick out of the fact people will pay massive premiums to live right next to a lift, but flip out when other transport/entertainment options get proposed. Just a bit of a double standard.

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^Good points. While I understand the concerns of the locals, I find it over the top that protesters are saying things like "what's next a ferris wheel" or using diagrams of multi-car/train rollercoasters and saying how loud they are. Mountain coasters are extremely quiet and I rarely hear people yelling while riding. And they can be made to blend in with the mountain better than a chairlift.

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^ I agree. I go to Wisp Resort in Maryland frequently, and their alpine coaster is extremely quiet in summer and winter. I don't know if the neighbors around it complained, but they'd be stupid to do so (at least because of noise).


Took the kids to Smiley's last summer.....went over to ride the Mountain Coaster and missed it by 1/2 hour!!! Gotta get back up there sometime and ride it, I am only 30 minutes down the road from there.

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I would say that an Alpine coaster is just as disruptive as a group of wild animals. Cars go by quickly and without a disturbing amount of noise. Tracks can be hidden from the public and private residences behind a berm or in a ditch so it doesn't look like there's a ride running through you're backyard. Beaver Creek is a nice place, and an Alpine coaster will do nothing but add to the beauty and luxury.

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I just rode my first alpine coaster this afternoon - the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. I had forgotten all about it until someone handed me a brochure a couple of days ago, and I couldn't resist the opportunity to try it out and get the cred. Not only that, today was a beautiful day, with partly sunny skies and temps in the 60's. Well,I'm glad I rode it, as it has a seriosly steep and convoluted series of lifts and four pretty forceful helices. Of course, I rode the whole way without the breaks on, and I really got lucky when the ride ops asked me and several other riders if we wanted to ride twice without getting off. Turns out they were testing the capacity of the lifts to handle more riders at a time and they needed a bunch of riders. That was a nice surprise. In a nutshell, IMO, these coasters are worth riding (well, at least this one was) if you get the chance.

The only tiny gripe I had was that the brake handles are rather low-set, which meant I had to depress the handles with my fingertips for the length of the descent. So, if you are a short person like me (I'm 5'3)' you may have to realy stretch your arms to ride with the brakes off.

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As often as I've been to the Smokies, I've never tried the alpine slide at Uber Gatlinburg, mainly because the friends I visit live in western North Carolina, and we rarely get to the Tennessee side of the mountains during the summer. One of these days . . .

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As often as I've been to the Smokies, I've never tried the alpine slide at Uber Gatlinburg, mainly because the friends I visit live in western North Carolina, and we rarely get to the Tennessee side of the mountains during the summer. One of these days . . .


On the TPR Tour in 2012 I had a horrible first ride on it because I few idiots on the tour ignored Robb's suggestion that if you are not going to go balls out get to the get of the line so you don't ruin the ride for those behind you. So what do we get, TWO, not one, but TWO tour members who insisted on staying in the front of the line and they proceeded down the course like pussies.


I knew they were going to ride slow and told the starter and he allowed me to wait an extra 30 seconds before starting and I still caught the people ahead of me half way down the course.


I rode it again immediately afterwards without pussies in front of me and it was much better.

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I had a woman in her 80's three people in front of me at Uber Gatlinburg and we all caught her. I was thinking how awesome it was that a woman in her 80's was on an Alpine slide, but disappointed at the same time because not only did I have to slow down to a crawl about halfway down (and we were in the fast lane), my partner beat me down in the slow lane and taunted as he went by me!

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