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Lift off after liftoff: New home may be needed for Lift 11

Dear Action Line: After my nice unexpected walk (Feb. 23) from lift 8 to lift 3 in the deep snow when the lift shut down, I started to think of all the improvements promised or dreamed of at Purgatory Resort. My five buddies and I had the time to think of all the things that make us grumpy about our mountain. We always come back to, “At least it’s close with few lines.” So here’s the question: What happened to lift 11? It’s no longer on the website list but is on the online map. Nobody knows why, especially for such a new lift, it isn’t running. Maybe it takes a secret token? – Still Looking for Ski Bunnies

Dear Still Looking: Yes, Purgatory is close, with short lines much of the time, plus some really good snow this year. Isn’t that enough?

Well, Action Line has done the broken lift trot a few times, and, more frequently, the “woops, I went the wrong way and lost my momentum and now I have to pole a few hundred yards” trot. Neither is great fun. But it’s all part of the skiing experience. Stuff happens, you know?

Lift 11 in action. It was fun while it lasted. (Durango Herald file)

Action Line has more of a long-term memory than short-term memory regarding Purgatory. Can we just have some fun and talk about big snow winters? Action Line was a tiny pup when landing a winter job in 1992-93 as the Snow Reporter. Really, that was the job title.

Action Line would show up at 6 a.m., get the groomers’ snow reports, and spread the news to local and state media. (And then sneak out of the office and go ski.) The message from New Year’s Day on was, “The snow is great!” and it really was. Seemed it snowed 500 inches that season.

Fact: Every time you attend an event at the magnificent Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, you can thank the winter of 1992-93. Heavy snow collapsed the roof of FLC’s fine arts auditorium that winter, prompting a community effort to build the new hall. (It also prompted a frantic, emergency clearing of every roof in town, as you might imagine.)

OK, enough history. On to the Lift 11 thing. The two consecutive surface tow rope “lifts,” also known as Swiss Cords, were designed to shuttle skiers and shredders toward Lift 8. So when you got to the bottom of, say, Dirty’s Secret, you’d grab onto the rope and let Swiss Cords drag you the quarter-mile to Lift 8.

Swiss Cords was opened in early 2017, and it wasn’t too long before Purgatory realized they were positioned by the manufacturer in a way that wouldn’t allow them to operate in the intended manner, said Purgatory spokeswoman Theresa Graven, after consult with resort general manager Dave Rathbun.

Retrofitting was required, and was deemed too expensive at the time – summer 2019, Graven said. Then the project was put on hold during COVID-19. Now, it’s possible the Swiss Cords might be moved to another resort within the Mountain Capital Partners “collective.” If you’re keeping track (Action Line wasn’t very well), Durango-based Mountain Capital now operates eight ski areas in five states, including Sipapu near Taos, New Mexico; Arizona Snowbowl near Flagstaff, Arizona; Brian Head in Utah and Hesperus about 10 miles west of Durango.

“Purgatory is currently looking for alternate locations across the Collective where the two sections can be installed either separately or together as was originally envisioned at Purg,” Graven said.

Dear Action Line: Is there any truth to the rumor currently circulating that Centura Health/Mercy Hospital will no longer allow gynecologists to practice on its campuses? Purportedly the reason for this is that office space is at a premium and cannot be dedicated to a branch of medicine that is seen by Centura as extraneously self-indulgent. Please find out if this is true. – Can’t Happen Here?

Dear Can’t Happen: The answer? No. No truth to the rumor.

Can you get an abortion at Mercy Hospital in Durango? No. Consult the Catholic Church for more details. Something about the “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.”

Can you get a tubal ligation there? As of April 15, no. Vasectomies haven’t been done for decades, other than when there’s a serious medical issue at stake.

But can gynecologists practice at Centura-affiliated campuses? Yes, Action Line was assured by one local gynecologist. “There is no truth to this. … This juicy tidbit is false.” You can still get gynecological counseling and treatment for needs including contraception, pregnancy, abortion and gynecologic therapies.

And you already heard the rumor about Centura Health splitting up, right? That one’s true. Mercy will now be managed by CommonSpirit Health, with other Centura hospitals to be managed by AdventHealth.

There. Anything else?

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. FYI: Purg has made some big improvements over the years. Anyone else remember when you could finish “Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills” on the ride up Lift 3, and still have time to get your ski tips up?

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