In Pictures: Sweetwater Gondola Towers Fly

Teams from Doppelmayr and Timberline Helicopters put on a show yesterday in Teton Village as they flew 21 towers for JHMR’s new Sweetwater Gondola. The new gondola rises out of the base area with a mid-station at Solitude and tops out next to Casper Restaurant. With each tower flown in 4-6 sections, Brian and his co-pilot completed somewhere around a hundred laps up the hill over six hours using a UH-60 Black Hawk.  There’s still a lot of work to go before November 24th but Sweetwater is starting to look like a lift!

Continue reading

News Roundup: Villages

Mi Teleférico to Build 11th Gondola Line in La Paz

The urban ropeway revolution will continue in Bolivia’s capital city of La Paz, where President Evo Morales announced Friday a 10th gondola line, Linea Celeste (Sky Blue Line) will join the Mi Teleférico gondola network.  La Paz and the neighboring city of El Alto announced the Red, Yellow and Green gondola lines in 2012 and the world’s largest urban gondola system opened throughout 2014.  President Morales unveiled plans for phase two with six more lines in 2015 with another added to the mix last February.  All 11 lines will be 10-passenger monocable detachable gondolas built by Doppelmayr. This latest investment of $110 million comes on top of $234 million for phase one and $450 million for the first six lines of phase two.

13775790_1455945891097548_85183511035693449_n

The Sky Blue branch will stretch nearly 9,000 linear feet with four stations, 27 towers and 159 CWA 10-passenger cabins. It is expected to be the busiest line in the system, serving the heart of the city and up to 4,000 passengers per hour at six meters per second.  The three existing lines operate at up to 5 m/s.  A trip from end to end on Linea Cileste will take 11.8 minutes.  A line previously dubbed Sky Blue will now be known as the Gold Line.  At the current rate, Mi Teleférico is going to run out of colors soon!

FOLLETO (85x61cm)OK

Continue reading

Instagram Tuesday: World Tour

Every Tuesday, we pick our favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

Jackson Hole Sweetwater Bottom Terminal steel going in. @mfm518 @kanzlerdad @ol_kev @bassettscott #jhmr #buildmorelifts

A photo posted by Andrew Gardner (@andrewgardneralta) on

Continue reading

Cherry Peak Will Complete Summit Lift for 2016-17

IMG_9246
Cherry Peak’s third triple chair will reach 7,050 feet in elevation, significantly higher than the Vista lift to the right.

Utah’s 14 ski resorts have built more than 45 new lifts since Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, barely behind Colorado over the same period, which has twice as many mountains.  Ski Utah is a huge success story in an era which has seen dozens of resort closings nationwide. Cherry Peak Resort became the state’s newest winter destination last December, bringing affordable skiing to the Cache Valley and the nearby college town of Logan.  Cherry Peak is the first all-new ski facility in America since the 2004 opening of Tamarack Resort in Idaho.  Next winter, the mountain will debut a third chairlift, increasing lift-served vertical rise to 1,265 feet.

TrailMap

Cherry Peak has a unique business model for the Rockies, operating Monday-Saturday with a noon opening on weekdays and skiing until 10:00 pm.  Owner John Chadwick has a lot to be proud of since starting construction on the project from scratch in 2013, completing a road network, two lifts, night lighting, snowmaking, a beautiful lodge, tube park and more. Last season saw plentiful snow and more than three months of operation with two triple chairlifts and a magic carpet.

Continue reading

Community Open House Launches Georgetown-Rosslyn Gondola Study

download
ZGF Architects will lead a team of professionals to study a possible gondola link between the Georgetown neighborhood in D.C. and Rosslyn, Virginia.

Washington, D.C. is inching closer to building the first urban transit gondola in the nation.  A team of consultants let by  ZGF Architects held an open house last week to update the public on the feasibility study underway for the Georgetown-Rosslyn Gondola proposed to cross the Potomac River.  ZGF, whose mission is to “create beautiful spaces that best serve people and the community,” was chosen this spring from eight teams who bid on the study. Local governments, Georgetown University and private-sector businesses have dedicated $190,000 to the project to date.

Jamie Bunch and Mike Deiparine from Engineering Specialties Group will provide technical ropeway expertise.  Their company has vast experience consulting on projects such as the Telluride Mountain Village GondolaPortland Aerial Tram, Roosevelt Island Tramway, Steamboat Silver Bullet Gondola and the Jackson Hole Tram Replacement.  ZGF Architects and its partners will study the gondola’s possible routing and overall feasibility, releasing their findings this fall.

urban gondola timeline
Staff presented this graphic showing the rapid growth of gondolas in cities across the globe.

At the meeting, project staff presented a Gondola 101 primer and chronicled the rise of urban cable transport globally.  The presentation even included pictures from my lift database! Slides were impressively researched and something I wish every American city-dweller could sit through – explaining angle stations, towers and cabin spacing in an easy to understand way.  Staff detailed four case studies: the Portland Aerial Tram, Roosevelt Island Tramway, Emirates Air Line and South American systems in La Paz and Medellín. After the formal program, community members got to check out five stations with display boards and ask questions.

Continue reading

Sweetwater Gondola July Update from Jackson Hole

IMG_9018
The new Sweetwater Gondola return terminal seen from the tram on July 13th.

A lot has fallen into place since my last update on the new Sweetwater Gondola going in at Jackson Hole, the only new gondola at a North American ski resort for 2016.  All three terminal sites required significant excavation and utility relocation which is largely complete.  A crane set all of the big steel at the bottom terminal last Thursday and Friday.  The station is nowhere near as big as the Bridger Gondola’s, which was designed for a rope speed of 1,200 fpm nearly 20 years ago (Sweetwater has a design speed of 800 fpm.)  It is significantly longer and taller than the Teewinot quad next door, however. Sweetwater’s custom bottom terminal skin will arrive from Austria later this summer.

IMG_9036
Return terminal and operator house in progress.
IMG_9049
Line gauge bullwheel seen from below.

All 21 towers arrived in sections from Salt Lake City in early July and will be flown in place at the end of the month next Wednesday.  The lifting frames are the “American style” rather than the Euro-style ones Doppelmayr uses on some large gondolas.  All the tower foundations are finished and ready for fly day.

Continue reading

Leitner-Poma MiniMetro Debuts at Miami International Airport

A new Leitner-Poma/Sigma MiniMetro train car transports flyers at Miami International Airport.  Photo credit: Leitner-Poma
A new Leitner-Poma/Sigma MiniMetro train car transports flyers at Miami International Airport. Photo credit: Leitner-Poma

Aerial lifts are far from the only transport applications where cable-propelled systems make a lot of sense.  Earlier this month, Leitner-Poma celebrated the opening of its newest MiniMetro train at Miami International Airport.  It’s the first phase of a system that will carry up to 30 million passengers annually to the Concourse E Satellite using less energy and with lower costs than a traditional automated people mover.   Leitner-Poma of America President Rick Spear said of the opening, “we are very pleased with the new MiniMetro train at MIA.  We have demonstrated our ability to be a competitive alternative to existing self-propelled technology both on price and performance, and in particular on the yearly operating and maintenance costs.”  Many of the train’s components were manufactured at Leitner-Poma’s Grand Junction facility that also builds ski lifts for North America, Australia and New Zealand.

The new train at Concourse E replaces one built in 1980 by Bombardier.  The Leitner-Poma project is the fourth people mover at Miami International Airport and the first to be cable-driven instead of having propulsion in each car. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries constructed the MIA Mover & Skytrain and also bid on the Concourse E replacement project.  Miami-Dade County awarded Leitner-Poma the $87 million contract in 2014, which includes 15 years of operation and maintenance.  “The Leitner-Poma team has delivered a train that is aesthetically appealing and has a very smooth ride.  The south lane is open and is being well received by our passengers,” said Eddie Chinea, Miami-Dade Aviation Department APM/Transport Systems Chair and Assistant Project Director.

Photo credit: Leitner-Poma
Photo credit: Leitner-Poma

Continue reading

News Roundup: Signs of Life

Sunday River Lift Severely Damaged as Terminal Falls

SunRiv-Lift8-Web2
A Borvig return bullwheel lies in ruin Tuesday after a strange series of events in Western Maine over the weekend. Photo Credit: Sunday River

A truly bizarre incident came to light tonight when Sunday River revealed the top terminal of its Spruce Peak Triple chairlift slid downhill and flipped on its side over the weekend. Scott Crowell, the resort’s lift maintenance manager discovered the damage on Sunday. From the pictures, it appears the foundation and return bullwheel moved together, with the tension of the lift and gravity sending the line to the ground. Thankfully, the lift does not operate in the summer and no one was injured.

According to Weather Underground, Bethel, Maine received nearly an inch of rain in the four days leading up to the discovery of the damage.  Sunday River said the lift in question was last load tested in Fall 2015.

SunRiv-Lift8-Web3
Photo Credit: Sunday River

Spruce Peak is one of two Borvig triples remaining at Sunday River and its second oldest lift, built in 1986.  Chairkit added a loading carpet at the bottom station in 2014.  Spruce is 4,382 feet long and rises 1,211 feet with 17 towers and 177 chairs.  In a statement, Sunday River noted, “Decisions on repairing or replacing the lift have not been made at this point and will depend on several factors, including the results of the investigation. The resort is committed to moving forward as quickly as possible.”  The mountain is working with its insurance company, Willis MountainGuard, and state investigators.  Presumably there is still time to get a brand new lift built in time for the coming 2016-2017 winter season if the order is placed soon.  Alternatively, a lift manufacturer could come in and replace just the top terminal and any damaged chairs. Continue reading