The new lift at Saddleback improves access to a self-contained complex of trails and glades on the upper mountain.

The summer project also will cut two new black diamond trails to skier's right of Warden's Worry, and install 16 new Pole Cat fan guns.

"For the first time, all levels of skiers will be able to experience high-elevation alpine skiing from Saddleback's 4,120-foot summit on a 3.5-mile run," Saddleback's JoAnne Taylor says.

Taylor added the work is another step in the resort's 10-year master plan, given preliminary approval by the state last year. The plan calls for nine new lifts - one of which, the South Branch Chair, was built in 2004 to serve the beginner/kids area.

Crews will be putting in foundations for the new lift, installing towers, and stringing cable over the summer.

"Trail cutting is being done by Quadco Harvesters," Taylor said, "which chip the trees in place from the top down. Everything that was on the mountain is still there, in different form. It puts the same materials back, and prevents things like erosion."

Next phases of the master plan include a 60-room inn, now in design stage; the Megalloway complex on skier's left, where trails already are being cut; and the False Peak Chair Lift on skier's right.