Bergman Express

Guide Mike Currid blasts through powder during a day of cat skiing at Keystone Resort. The Bergman Express lift that opens this weekend now provides easy access to the terrain. Pam LeBlanc photo

Two years ago, I strapped an avalanche beacon and a shovel to my back and headed into the backcountry at Keystone Resort in Colorado.

At the time, the only way to reach Bergman Bowl – or neighboring Independence and Erickson bowls – was to hike for 45 minutes to get there, or book a ride on a snowcat, one of those tractor-like machines that hauls grooming equipment (and, sometimes, eager skiers with shovels on their backs) up mountain slopes.

I hitched the snowcat ride, and loved the challenging, wide-open terrain and gnarly tree runs it allowed me to access. At the end of each snowy run, I climbed back into the snowcat, which crept up the mountain to a new section of untracked snow. It was both exhausting and exhilarating. It was also expensive.

Starting Saturday, it gets a lot easier to get there.

Bergman Express provides new access

A new high-speed six-passenger chairlift called Bergman Express will now carry skiers and boarders to 555 acres of high alpine terrain once reserved for those willing to haul themselves up the mountain or pay for a day of snowcat skiing. Selfishly, I’m a little sad those secret stashes are now open to the masses, meaning it’ll be tougher to get fresh tracks, but I also understand the need to make better use of underutilized terrain. And I’m happy more people can experience it.

The lift was originally scheduled to open last season, but construction was temporarily stopped after a third-party construction crew mistakenly built a road through high-alpine tundra. The U.S. Forest Service had to approve a restoration plan before construction could continue, which it finally did.

Read more: My top 10 adventures of 2023

This weekend, the rope drops.

And if, like me, you’re feeling a little sentimental about it, consider this: Adrenaline junkies can still blow their quads out hiking to more than 1,300 acres of expert terrain in The Windows, North Bowl, South Bowl, and Independence Bowl. No free rides there.



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