Gatlinburg, Tennessee is the surprising home to a half dozen aerial lifts including the Gatlinburg Sky Lift and Ober Gatlinburg ski resort with a 120-passenger VonRoll aerial tramway. This town of less than 4,000 may now be adding a Leitner-Poma chondola to the mix. A new mixed-use development called Anakeesta includes the AerialQuest Adventure Park and a new hotel with a chondola connecting the two. The project’s website is unclear on exactly what type of system is coming, but apparently it will take 12 minutes each way and have between four and eight passenger cabins (the photoshopped cabins on the website are Gangloff, not Sigma.) The site calls it a chondola and Telemix although its not clear the person who wrote the copy actually knows what those terms mean. Websites are cheap, gondolas are not so we will see if this one really opens in the Spring of 2017.
- Its been six weeks since the Berry family, owners of Saddleback, Maine, said they would close the resort if they could not find financing to order a new lift by August 1st. Regardless of the outcome, this has been a PR disaster with a desperate announcement and then silence. Not a good sign when the general manager refuses to talk to the state’s largest newspaper. My take: despite the bluff they will find a way to open.
- Ligonier Construction awarded $4.6 million contract to re-build the State of Pennsylvania’s Laurel Mountain Ski Area. The project includes a new quad chairlift but I could not find a lift manufacturer identified in the bid documents. Nearby Seven Springs Mountain Resort will operate the ski area on behalf of the state.
- Snow Summit proves again that snowmaking systems can save lifts and buildings from wildfires.
- What if Aspen had a gondola from Ajax to Buttermilk and Snowmass?
- Not one but four 15-passenger gondolas proposed to link a cruise terminal with George Town in the Caribbean’s Cayman Islands. I’m thinking even that won’t be enough when Royal Caribbean’s newest ship shows up with 6,000 passengers tired of being on a ship with 6,000 passengers.
- “No one has contributed more to the task of transporting skiers and snowboarders up the ski mountains of the United States than Jan Leonard,” said the President of the NSAA in the Salt Lake Tribune’s obituary. Services will be held tomorrow.
Doppelmayr flew towers for the Quicksilver Gondola in Park City yesterday and today. I wasn’t able to make it but Instagram has us covered! Quicksilver has 27 towers but a few had already been set by crane. Check back next week for more updates from America’s largest ski resort.
The crew from Doppelmayr is flying through work on the Teton lift with 110 days until opening. Jackson Hole’s fourth high speed quad now has a complete top terminal with the bottom not far behind. The Uni-G model terminals are mostly gray with white ends. The 8,500′ haul rope, which was manufactured in Canada, was brought up the mountain earlier this week. Eighty
DT-104 Agamatic grips also arrived in crates last week. The bottom lift shack is the only large component not in already in place besides the haul rope. At this rate I would not be surprised to see a load test by October 1st.
When Vail opened the 10-passenger Gondola One in 2012, it marked the return of gondola service to Vail Village for the first time since 1976. Gondola One is named after the original Bell gondola at Vail, which opened fifty years earlier in 1962. After a de-ropement on
that gondola the Lionshead gondola that killed four, various chairlifts served Vail Village for the next thirty years. Gondola One replaced the Vista Bahn, one of Vail’s original detachable quads from 1985. The Vista Bahn was a beast of a lift – over 9,000 feet long with 216 bubble quad chairs that could move 2,650 skiers per hour to the heart of Vail Mountain. By 2011, the Vista Bahn had reached the end of its useful life and needed replacement.
Gondola One is an impressive upgrade, full of modern features and an example of how the gondola is staging a comeback. Built by Leitner-Poma, it has 120 10-passenger Sigma Diamond cabins with heated seats, LED lighting and Wi-Fi. Cabin 50 is painted gold to celebrate Vail’s 50th anniversary which was celebrated the year it opened. Exterior ski racks on the cabins have space for ten pairs of skis or six snowboards and bikes can fit inside the cabins in the summer.
Jan Leonard, founder of CTEC and a 40-year veteran of the lift-building business, died unexpectedly this morning at the age of 69. Most recently, he was Director of Sales for SkyTrac Lifts in Salt Lake City and previously was President of Doppelmayr USA.
After graduating from Penn State in 1968, Jan went to work for American Bridge in Pittsburgh before meeting the manager of Killington on a ski trip and getting into the lift business. He went to work for Vic Hall in Watertown, New York in 1971 before moving to Logan, Utah in 1973 to join Thiokol Ski Lifts. When Thiokol wanted out of the business a few years later, Leonard and Mark Ballantyne bought the company’s designs and started CTEC (Cable Transportation Engineering Corporation) in 1977. CTEC built its first complete lift in 1981 and by 1992 was the largest lift manufacturer in North America with 450 employees. CTEC built 144 lifts as a privately owned American company.
Leonard and Ballantyne sold CTEC to Garaventa of Switzerland in 1993. Doppelmayr merged with Garaventa in 2002 to form today’s Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group, which ironically included Hall, where Jan Leonard started his career decades earlier. Leonard stayed on as the President of Doppelmayr USA until 2007, when he left to be an independent ropeway consultant. He was was off a lift company’s payroll for less than three years before joining SkyTrac in 2010 as director of sales. “I don’t like losing. The thrill of getting the sale is phenomenal,” he told SAM earlier this year.
- Leitner-Poma flies concrete for Loveland’s new Ptarmigan lift, a triple which will replace two lifts in a new alignment.
- Aerospace Engineer Michael Bouchard is determined to reopen Tenney Mountain after five seasons being closed.
- Season pass sales have been suspended at the troubled Magic Mountain in Londonderry, Vermont. The classic New England ski resort is down to two working chair lifts (in 1990 it had five.)
- Poma has a new brochure about its urban lift projects.
- Mt. Rose is relocating the Ponderosa quad (1993 Garaventa CTEC) to become the Wizard beginner lift. It also looks like their James Niehues trail map is out and a Gary Milliken VistaMap is in.
- One of Garaventa’s retired engineers has written an 834-page book called Ropeway Technology. It can be yours for only 125 Swiss Francs (plus $32 for shipping to the USA.)
- Sugarloaf pours foundations for their new terminal on an old lift.
Vail Resorts is in the midst of a major program at its four Colorado resorts to replace first-generation detachable quads with new six packs and gondolas. Up for a refresh this summer is Chair 2 at Vail, the Avanti Express. The 1989 detachable quad is being replaced with a Doppelmayr six-pack. This follows the replacement of the Vista Bahn with a Leitner-Poma 10-passenger gondola and the Mountaintop Express with a Doppelmayr six-pack last summer. Vail has been saving parts from these lifts to keep others of the same vintage going. Lifts 7, 8, 11 and 21 are the only 1980s detachables left at Vail and will likely be replaced in the next few years. Northwoods and Game Creek are the oldest two lifts of any kind left at Vail, dating back to 1985.
The new 2 is in the same alignment as the old and re-uses its tower tubes. New, wider crossarms were flown into place a few weeks ago with the exception of towers 24 and 25 at the summit. Concrete work for both terminals is finished except for the loading carpet pit at the bottom terminal. Steel for the terminals has been delivered. New chairs are staged at the summit and the haul rope spool sits at tower 9.