Breckenridge's 12,840-foot Imperial Express, the highest lift in the U.S., opens today

Here in Denver we like to throw the number 5,280 around a lot. Skiers and snowboarders at Breckenridge prefer a much bigger number: 12,840. That's the elevation at the top of the Imperial Express SuperChair, the highest chairlift in North America, and it's open this morning for the first time all season, thanks to some recent snow. The opening also marks another first for the season: All 31 of the resort's lifts are now running.

"The Breckenridge Ski Patrol has worked extremely hard and been very diligent to open up our terrain as soon as we feel it is safe to do so," said Breckenridge Ski Patrol Director Kevin Ahern in a statement. "Getting the Imperial Express Super Chair open is key for us to get the rest of our alpine terrain open for our guests."

There's just one more big number remaining on the horizon: The 12,998-foot hike-to summit that is accessible from the top of the Imperial Express, and the Lake Chutes and Snow White terrain it serves, is still closed. But with snow in the forecast and a storm on the way later this week, Breckenridge spokeswoman Kristen Stewart says it could be just a matter of days.

"It's huge for us to get the Imperial Express open so that the next powder day we'll be ready to go," Stewart says. "We're not that far off. As soon as patrol feels like it's safe we're going to get that open. Keep doing your Ullr dances, because the more snow the better. I would say we'll be looking at getting some of that hike-to terrain open in the next week or so."

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Colin Bane
Contact: Colin Bane