Skiers and snowboarders who head to Taos Ski Valley know they have some steps to climb before getting onto Lift 1.

Resort officials plan to make the approach to the slopes easier this summer, with an extensive dirt-moving project around the base area.

General Manager Gordon Briner told OnTheSnow that crews will remove dirt in front of the "beachfront" area between Lift 1 and the base lodge. The result will make the hike to the lift more gradual with fewer retaining walls and staircases, Briner said. The regrading also will improve the flow of skiers and riders from the Rubezahl return trail to the base of the lift.

"Fewer grades, steps and obstacles are what we are looking at," he said. "The work fits into our overall plans for the base area."

Taos Ski Valley has plans for improvements to the base area, which is owned by Taos Ski Valley Corp. A concomitant plan filed with the U.S. Forest Service outlines a host of new lifts, facility upgrades, and expansions that must await financing.

At the top of the priority list is a new beginners chairlift just east of the Resort Center, where a moving carpet now sits. The grading planned for this summer also will set the stage for the installation of that lift that would parallel the Rubezahl trail, hopefully in 2012, Briner said.

More information.