Pitcher, whose family has owned Wolf Creek Ski Area since he was a boy, is proposing a 1,000-acre, five-chairlift expansion plan that is both minimalist in its footprint and sweeping in its scope. The plan, which is has not been submitted to the National Forest Service for evaluation, is the largest proposed ski-area expansion in decades — larger than Vail’s Category III and even the 1989 China Bowl expansion.
Pitcher is pushing his plan as “community service.” It would improve skier movement across his mountain — two of the proposed lifts would eliminate lengthy traverses that have long frustrated snowboarders — as well as increase access to expert terrain.
He’s also promising to protect the high-altitude environment. His proposal would not add any parking but would use shuttles to ferry visitors to his mountaintop ski area. He’s not cutting new runs or building roads to install new lifts in the new terrain. He’s ensuring no summer use at his ski area. He’s ready to lock his sustainable plan into a sort of conservation easement for any future owners. And the plan is not dependent on any real estate development or significant increases in visitation.
But the expansion plan comes as Texas billionaire Red McCombs is again pushing his decades-old plan to develop a 1,711-unit village adjacent to the ski area. That plan — currently part of a land-swap proposal with the Forest Service — has vehement opposition from environmentalists.
Pitcher acknowledges the timing isn’t great, but his plans have been in the works for several years. And Pitcher wanted to get his plan on record this spring before the Forest Service makes its final decision this winter on its long-pondered revision to the Land and Resource Management Plan for the San Juan National Forest.