A little Colorado cowboy throwback for all you Wildsnow readers around the world…
The year was 1971, anyone with a golf shirt and a friendly banker could start a ski area in Colorado. A resort near the town of Marble was one such endeavor. Marble fizzled for various reasons (see below). For fun, check out this nifty report from the Aspen Times, 1971. If you know what it’s like up there, you’ll see the humor in this article, perhaps tongue-in-cheek repeating the downright weird plans of the developers. Paving the “airstrip” might be the winner pipe dream. If you saw it, you’ll know why. Ending in a lake, short, tall trees and power lines to either side and constrained by the Crystal River. It’s still used for small plane hobby flights, but paving it?
Text from Aspen Times, June 3, 1971, lightly condensed, annotations in double quotes:
Work starts on 1st Marble Chair Lift
Work has started on the first lift at the new Marble Ski Area and an Aspen firm, Esco, has been awarded a contract to build the access road to the lift and ski village at its base, the Aspen Times was told last week.
The lift, first of five to be on private land, is to be supplied by Riblet and erected by employees of the Marble Ski Area, Operations Manager Al Atkins told the Aspen Times.
It is to be 4,300 feet long with a rise of approximately 1200 feet. A total of 12 lifts on private and Forest Service Land is ultimately planned, a corporation official recently told the Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce.
About two miles above the old town of Marble, the new ski village is to be located at the base of the lift at an elevation of 8800 feet, Marble has an elevation of 7950.
However, Atkins explained, the access road is to be four miles long running up the east side of Marble Creek ((The road was build and actually is on the east side of Gallo Creek rather than Marble Creek)) and down the west side at a cost of $300,000.
First phase of the new village is to be a 200-unit condominium Atkins said. It is hoped that construction can begin on the structure later this summer ((probably the still existing shell of the ‘Crystal Lodge.’
Second phase of the village construction is to be a series of shops, about 25, in the commercial areas. Tentative construction date is next year.
Also in the pans is paving of the airstrip, already in existence below Marble. The strip is now used to fly in prospective customers and for use by the developing firms own Lear Jet ((WildSnow note: an outrageous and laughable assertion, no way a Lear could land on the short grass strip)).
Parent company for Marble Ski Area, Inc. is the Colorado Western Development ((Lee Stubblefield’s company)), creators of Crystal Lakes and Perry Parks, both near Denver. ((Google Stubblefield and you’ll see he was involved in a variety of apparently shady real estate development.))
About 650 of the lots included in the first five filings for the Marble Ski Area have already been sold, the Aspen Times was told ((WildSnow.com hint, the idea here is say you’ll build a lift, and see who ‘invests’ in the associated land)). Another four filings are in the works for this summer.
LackervichZakovich, an official of Colorado Western, is President of Marble Ski Areas, Inc., and Don Weixelman is vice president.
The lift was actually built, parts are still there. It is said to have ran during two winters. Well known pioneer ski mountaineer Chris Landry told this author some years ago that he actually rode the lift during the halcyon 1970s, and commenters below share their stories. The private land and lots in the area are now sold as residential home sites, with no plans for ski development. A fairly large “base lodge” type building was partially built and is still intact, miraculously the would-be “Crystal Lodge” had not fallen down nor ignited as of this writing– though clearly it should be condemned and razed. Rumors ran the gamut on exactly why the whole endeavor failed. Our research leads us to believe it was a combination of factors, all the way from a perhaps shady corporate foundation, to geologic hazards prevalent in the area. It’s also said a key permit filing was never done and was the nail in the coffin.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain. For more about Lou, please see his personal website at https://www.loudawson.com/ (Blogger stats: 5 foot 10 inches (178 cm) tall, 160 lbs (72574.8 grams).