Sugarbush’s New Valley House Quad

Support structure for the Doppelmayr Tristar drive terminal.

New England ski areas are building three new lifts this summer and all of them happen to be in Vermont.  At Sugarbush, the Valley House double (a 1960 Carlevario-Savio) is out and a Doppelmayr fixed-grip quad is going in.  At some point the old lift got a new Poma Alpha drive terminal and Borvig chairs.  The perfectly good Poma terminal is off to West Mountain on the other side of Lake Champlain in New York.  Sugarbush’s new lift looks like it’s going to have the Tristar-model terminal like many other recent Doppelmayr lifts in New England.  The bottom terminal has been moved downhill to be much closer to the Super Bravo Express than the old lift.  This will be Sugarbush’s 8th quad chair between Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen.  Doppelmayr still has a ways to go on this project with just a couple towers and sections of both terminals standing but all the important concrete work is done.

Loading carpet and gates are already installed.

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News Roundup: Hauling to 12,000 Feet

Instagram Tuesday: Sunset on Summer

#BigRed gets put away for the summer. Next up #winter #tramriders. #winteriscoming #jacksonhole #sunrise

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Oh, Mother Nature. You are fancy! #happyplacefound

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Amazing fall day to take in the view on the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola. #360ofWB Photo: @robinoneill

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Finishing Three Lifts at Once in Park City

Finally the relocated King Con got some new paint for its new home.
Finally the relocated King Con got some new paint.  Haul rope is on too.

Doppelmayr is on a roll at Park City with haul ropes spliced and tensioned for the new King Con Express and Motherlode Express lifts.  In case you’ve been living under a rock, King Con is a brand new Uni-G model six pack with a loading carpet while Motherlode is a recycled Garaventa CTEC detachable quad moved from the King Con line.  Both are nearly finished 50 days before opening day.

King Con Express with a new haul rope and freshly-painted tower tubes.
King Con Express with a brand haul rope and freshly-painted tower tubes.

Over at the Quicksilver Gondola, which connects Park City to the former Canyons Resort, the drive terminal is getting a loading platform and what looks like a small cabin maintenance building.  A bunch more cabins have arrived from Switzerland; the highest number I saw on a gondola was 61.  The angle station is going up now with a crane setting bullwheels today.  This station is going to be massive and I imagine the large tire sections will follow this week.

Top of King Con with the new gondola in the distance.

In other news, Payday Express, the last of Park City’s detachables with white paint received its new red and silver paint job last week along with Flat Iron next to the new gondola.  Just about every lift at the combined resort has been painted this summer with the exception of a few fixed-grip lifts on the Park City side.  Check out more pictures of the construction after the jump.

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The New Longest Gondola in Turkey

It used to be when you boarded the gondola to Silver Mountain in Kellogg, Idaho, a huge sign proclaimed, “Welcome to the World’s Longest Gondola.”  At 16,350 feet, the Silver Mountain Gondola held that title from its opening in 1990 until May 2009.  That’s when Doppelmayr completed the Ba Na Cable Car in the mountains of Vietnam.  A hundred and fifty feet longer than Silver’s gondola and a thousand feet taller, it broke world records for both length and vertical rise.

The Ba Na Cable Car in Vietnam was the world's longest when it opened. Photo credit: Doppelmayr
The Ba Na Cable Car in Vietnam was the world’s longest from when it opened in 2009 until 2014. Photo credit: Doppelmayr

Fast forward a couple years and Leitner has crushed the ropeway length record again with a gondola in Turkey that opened in 2014.  Like the Silver Mountain Gondola, the Bursa-Uludag Gondola connects a city with a ski resort but this one is split into in three sections.  It starts in Bursa (Turkey’s fourth largest city) at only 1,300 feet above sea level and tops out at the Uludag resort town and national park at 6,000 feet.  The combined system is just under 29,000 feet long with a vertical rise of 4,600 feet.  It has 139 Sigma Diamond cabins and 44 towers.  The entire system takes only 22 minutes to ride at 6 m/s, replacing a 35-kilometer drive on a mountain road that took over an hour.

As if the Ba Na Cable Car and Bursa-Uludag Gondola aren’t cool enough, there’s also a 26,000 foot 3S gondola under construction in Vietnam that will relegate Silver Mountain’s gondola to the world’s fourth longest.

Oldest Operating Lifts in the US & Canada

1. Single Chair, Mad River Glen, VT – 1948 American Steel & Wire Single Chair

The single chair at MRG still has its original towers and terminal structures but everything else was replaced by Doppelmayr CTEC in 2007.  As part of that project, towers were removed, sandblasted and repainted before being flown back to new foundations with new line gear.  Doppelmayr also replaced the bullwheels, chairs, grips, drive and haul rope.  This begs the question of ‘when is an old lift a new lift?’

2. Gatlinburg Sky Lift, Gatlinburg, TN – 1954 Riblet double

Everett Kircher of Boyne fame bought this chairlift from Sugar Bowl, CA for $3,000 in 1954.  Originally it was a single chair built in 1939.  Modified sheave assemblies were machined at the Kircher’s car dealership in Michigan when the lift went to Tennessee.  At some point it appears to have gotten newer-style Riblet towers.  Boyne Resorts still operates this lift 800 miles from their nearest ski resort. (edit: JP notes in the comments below that this version was replaced by a Riblet double in 1991.  Thanks JP!)

3. Chair 1, White Pass, WA – 1955 Riblet double

This lift only operates on busy weekends and holidays but it’s an old one and a good one .  A classic Pacific Northwest center-pole double with very few modifications from its original design and no safety bars!

Chair one at White Pass lives on despite an adjacent high speed quad.

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News Roundup: Tower Time

Sugarloaf's oldest lift towers come down. Photo credit: Sugarloaf Mountain Resort
Sugarloaf’s oldest lift towers come down. Photo credit: Sugarloaf Mountain Resort
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Instagram Tuesday: Fall

There it is. Golden Peak living up to its name! P: @_toddharper #VailFall

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The ride to the top is worth it. (📷: @stevegoffphoto )

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Chairs Going on the Teton Lift

The Teton lift got its haul rope and commline in the last few weeks and Doppelmayr started launching chairs on Saturday.  Agamatic grips were being attached to each chair before going onto the maintenance rail at the bottom terminal.  Doppelmayr was launching chairs in groups with the lift running slowly in reverse.  All 80 chairs should be on by this afternoon.  Next up: adjustments and load test.  Impressive to see this project nearly finished two and half months before its scheduled opening (which is December 19th.)

Chairs going on in reverse.
Towers 13-15 just below the top terminal.

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Two Big Gondolas Opening South of the Border

Sigma Diamond cabins in France waiting to be shipped across the pond.  Photo credit: Sigma Cabins

Park City and Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota won’t have the only new gondolas in this part of the world come December.  Leitner Ropeways is in the final stages of building a $72 million gondola system in Ecatepec near Mexico City.  Two connected gondola lines will include seven stations and 184 10-passenger cabins.  They will feature the first Leitner DirectDrives in North America.  DirectDrive technology eliminates the need for a gearbox and associated points of failure.

Map of the two lines and seven stations.
Map of the two lines and seven stations.

The longer of the two lines will have a slope length of 9,577 feet while rising 180 feet in 10.5 minutes.  It will have 20 towers and 108 Sigma Diamond 10-passenger cabins.  The second line will be 5,922 feet long with a slightly larger vertical of 203 feet and ride time of 7.5 minutes.  This one will have 76 cabins and 16 towers.  Both lines will travel at a max speed of 1,181 feet a minute and transport 3,000 riders an hour each way.  With five mid-stations, it would be difficult for cabins to be shared between the two haul ropes.  A fault or stop at any of the seven terminals would halt the entire system which is just one of the reasons it is being split up with cabins turning around in the middle.

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