Inside Breckenridge's Peak 6 Expansion

Breckenridge’s Peak 6 expansion offers rare above-treeline intermediate bowl skiing and north-facing views.
Breckenridge’s Peak 6 expansion offers rare above-treeline intermediate bowl skiing and north-facing views.

This ski season Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado opened a major new expansion that increased the resort’s skiable terrain by 20 percent: Peak 6. This new, 543-acre expanse just north of Peak 7 has taken a great deal of crowd pressure off the resort’s lift lines and trails, says Kristen Petitt Stewart, senior communications manager at Breckenridge.

“Peak 6 is one of the biggest guest service initiatives we’ve ever taken on, because if you’ve ever been to Breckenridge over a holiday or a weekend, we’re a very popular resort, so we do have issues in lift lines and trail crowding,” Stewart says. “Peak 6 has been the remedy to improve that.”

While Peak 6 has been a part of the resort’s master plan for many years, Breckenridge started the process to open the expansion in 2007.

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“It’s been a long process but a very important one, because we believe in local input from the community and all the stakeholders involved,” says Stewart.

Because Peak 6 lies on U.S. Forest Service land, the expansion required the resort to undergo a NEPA environmental impact planning process that involved input from the Forest Service and the local community. Breckenridge received final approval for the expansion in early 2013, and made the decision to open the expansion for the 2013 – 2014 season.

The Tale of the Trails

In the run-up to the grand opening, resort officials continued to involve the community by crowdsourcing the expansion’s trail names. The “Awaken Your Sixth Sense” contest, conducted via the resort’s Facebook page, allowed Breckenridge’s Facebook fans to submit ideas for trail names on the new Peak 6. The resort’s selection committee reviewed the submissions and sent the first fan to submit a winning entry a replica trail sign with their creation emblazoned on it. In all, more than 75 percent of Peak 6’s trails were named through this contest.

“It’s been really fun to see the public participation in this particular part of our mountain,” says Stewart.

The Peak 6 Terrain

The terrain mix on Peak 6 is unique in that it offers above-treeline bowls for intermediate skiers, a terrain type usually found on advanced trails.

“It’s rare to find above-treeline bowl skiing for intermediates,” says Stewart. “Conditions can change quickly above the treeline, and we’re not marking obstacles in the bowl, which has been an education for some intermediate skiers. It’s an extreme experience on intermediate runs.”

In all, Peak 6 offers 400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain. 60 acres is below-treeline intermediate ski trails, with a 235-acre mix of intermediate and advanced terrain in addition to that. Finally, 104 acres can be accessed by the Imperial Express Chair, the highest chairlift in North America, from Peak 8.

“Guest reaction has been above and beyond what we expected,” says Stewart. “In addition, we’ve had one of the most amazing snow years ever. Since January 1, we’ve had over 16 feet of snow and we were the snowiest resort in the U.S. in January alone. I think that the new terrain plus the snow on top of it has given a phenomenal reaction.”

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