Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.
It’s been two weeks since the bombshell news that Aspen Skiing Co. and KSL Capital Partners are joining forces to bring twelve ski resorts under a new entity rivaling Vail Resorts. While the deals won’t close for months, the new partners already say they plan to invest heavily in the guest experience. “We have earmarked a lot of capital for improvements to be able to continue to reinvest significantly in the communities and the mountains,” KSL CEO Eric Resnick told the Denver Post. “What’s exciting is being able to bring new opportunities with these communities and with these mountains to those customers who are already so passionate.” This could come in the form of new lifts ahead of the 2018-19 season and beyond. Below is a summary of announced plans and my speculation of what might be in store for KSL and Aspen’s upcoming resorts.
- Alpine Meadows, CA:
- Alpine Meadows applied for and received approval to replace the Hot Wheels chairlift in a new, longer alignment back in 2012. A mid-station offload would allow beginner and intermediate skiers to access the lower mountain while others could continue to an unload near the top of Sherwood, providing direct access to Sherwood and Lakeview. Approval for this lift likely expired in September 2015 but there’s no reason to believe Placer County would not approve it again.
- Speaking of Lakeview, it is arguably the largest remaining pod at Alpine Meadows without detachable access. This 1984 CTEC is older than Sherwood and with approximately the same vertical rise. A high-speed quad is likely to replace it eventually.
- Doppelmayr and CTEC have both built lifts at Alpine Meadows while Leitner-Poma has not. That could change with the unification of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.
- I’ve written before about the Base-to-Base Gondola which is still on the table but still requires multiple government approvals. It would traverse the White Wolf property between Squaw and Alpine with two angle stations along the way.
- $150 million Raymond James settlement includes $762,503 for Burke Mountain’s new Leitner-Poma T-Bar.
- Power outage leads to rope evacuation of Loveland’s newest lift.
- Steamboat gondola refurbishing begins (I got to tour Northstar’s gondola this week which received a similar upgrade in 2015.)
- Orlando Sentinel confirms Walt Disney World is building three Doppelmayr 10-passenger gondolas with six stations.
- Crystal Mountain breaks away from Boyne Resorts, orders five additional gondola cabins and plans to build new Discovery and Gold Hills lifts in 2018.
- Eldora is selling Hall and Heron chairs as six-pack construction begins.
- Preview Oakland’s new $13 million restaurant accessible only by gondola.
- Sunday River’s new owner commits to replacing Spruce Peak.
- This week’s cities floating gondolas include Edmonton and Burlington, Vermont.
- Fatzer delivers four 153-ton track ropes to Germany’s Zugspitze using two trucks linked together for the entire journey.
- MND Group’s LST Ropeways subsidiary invested $4.3 million and hired 25 people to develop detachable product that is now available worldwide.
- Cleveland Planning Commission considers nine-station gondola network.
- Arizona Republic takes a deep dive into Grand Canyon Escalade cultural and natural resource issues.
- Big investments are likely coming to Steamboat, Winter Park and the rest of the resorts KSL and Aspen acquired this week.
- Leitner has a new iPhone-like control system called LeitControl.
- Are there too many urban gondola ideas?
- Revelstoke will add 24 cabins to the Revelation Gondola this summer along with 21 chairs to The Stoke to address sometimes epic lift lines.
- Mechanics in New Zealand work to repair the fire-damaged lift at Christchurch Adventure Park.
- New York State Fair Gondola funding slammed by politicians and citizens alike.
- Vail Mountain proposes 1,870 foot fixed-grip lift above the Riva Bahn mid-station on Golden Peak.
In the span of just three days, Vail Resorts has gained a challenger that spans North America. Today the new team of Aspen Skiing Company and KSL Capital Partners announced an agreement to acquire Mammoth Resorts from an ownership group led by Starwood Capital. Mammoth Mountain, Bear Mountain, June Mountain and Snow Summit will join the Intrawest resorts and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows brought under one roof on Monday. “This new platform, built around a collective passion for the mountains and our commitment to the people who visit, work and live there, is exactly what the ski resort business needs,” said Rusty Gregory, the longtime manager and chief executive of Mammoth Resorts. He called the move “the next logical chapter in the story of Mammoth.”
The new yet-to-be-named entity will operate:
- Alpine Meadows, CA
- Bear Mountain, CA
- Blue Mountain, ON
- June Mountain, CA
- Mammoth Mountain, CA
- Snowshoe, WV
- Snow Summit, CA
- Steamboat, CO
- Squaw Valley, CA
- Stratton, VT
- Tremblant, QC
- Winter Park, CO
Aspen Skiing Company will continue to independently own Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass but it will likely cozy up to its partner resorts. With Aspen included, the new company will operate 207 lifts at 16 mountains compared with Vail Resorts’ 261 lifts at 14 mountains. Like Monday’s deal, the Mammoth acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter. What a week, and it’s only Wednesday.
Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.
What a view and ride with this cable car down ! #hightatras #vysoketatry #ThisIsSlovakia @thisisslovakia #slovensko #slovakia #slovak #slovakiamountains #beautifulnature #bautifuldestinations #beautifulday #mountains #earthpix #earthpics #mountainresort #skiing #skiresort #dovolenka #cestujemczsk #wonderful_places #landscape #view #landscapephotography #nature #naturephotography #landscapes #pickoftheday #photooftheday #canonphotography #canon #cablecar
Intrawest Resorts Holdings has entered into an agreement to sell to Aspen Skiing Company and KSL Capital Partners, the owners of Aspen Snowmass and Squaw Valley, respectively. A new company owned by both partners will pay $23.75 in cash for each share of Intrawest, representing a total value of approximately $1.5 billion. Intrawest shares had risen 49 percent since January on acquisition rumors and the deal includes Intrawest’s debt. “This transaction creates significant opportunity for Intrawest and delivers tremendous value to our current shareholders,” said Thomas Marano, Intrawest’s chief executive officer. “We are excited to work with Aspen and KSL. Our new partners bring additional financial resources and a shared passion for the mountains and our mountain communities. Both Aspen and KSL are committed to helping Intrawest accelerate our plans to bring more value to our guests, more opportunities for our employees and more investment into our local communities.”
The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of this year and will likely affect pass options for the 2018-19 season. Intrawest’s Blue Mountain, Snowshoe, Steamboat, Stratton, Tremblant and Winter Park resorts were founding members of the MAX Pass while Aspen’s four mountains and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows are both destinations on the Liftopia-backed Mountain Collective. On the lift front, Aspen Skiing Co. and KSL/Squaw Valley are mostly Leitner-Poma customers while Intrawest mountains buy from both manufacturers (Tremblant/Snowshoe are all Doppelmayr, Winter Park/Blue Mountain are all L-P, Stratton and Steamboat have a mix.)
Update: Aspen Snowmass has posted a Better Together page and FAQ on its website. “Aspen Skiing Company will continue to be operated separately from Intrawest and Squaw, but we plan to work together in areas that make sense,” it notes.
- Foundation work is starting for Disney gondolas.
- Partek will build a fixed-grip quad at Mt. Peter, NY this summer.
- East River Skyway proposal expanded to five phases with more possible stations.
- Belleayre bid documents suggest December 2017 completion and a name for gondola: Catskill Thunder. Funding was approved Monday though I’m told a manufacturer has not yet been awarded the contract.
- NY State Fair gondola is also funded, separate from a chairlift to be built there by SkyTrans Manufacturing this summer.
- Lee Canyon seeks approval to build two new quad chairs in new places.
- Work to resume on Poma gondola in Zacatecas, Mexico with commissioning scheduled for September.
- Gould Academy may build a T-Bar up Monday Mourning at Sunday River.
- Intrawest stock hits record high amid acquisition rumblings.
- A Yan detachable still operates with original grips in Spain.
- Quebec announces $70 million in subsidies to support infrastructure investments at ski resorts in the province, including lift upgrades.
- SEC filing shows exactly how much CNL Lifestyle Properties paid for each of the 16 ski resorts it owns. The most valuable was Northstar at $80.1 million with Loon Mountain selling for just $15.5 million. The Gatlinburg Sky Lift operation went for a whopping $19.9 million!
- Bridger Bowl to sell chairs from Virginia City if buyer falls through.
- Interalpin, the every-other-year mountain technology nerd fest is April 26-28.
- If rent payments to the federal government are any indication, Colorado is booming.
- Flying demo tent gets hung up on Stowe gondola.
- Staff at Barcelona’s urban gondola will strike.
- In addition to completing the Green Lift, Magic Mountain will install a new motor and drive for the Black Lift and return capacity to three per chair.
- Lift Blog reaches 1,000 Instagram followers, 700 Facebook fans and 1,000,000 page views. Thank you to everyone who has supported me with this project over the last two years.
Killington Resort and a local developer will invest $110 million to revitalize Bear Mountain over the next few years, including the addition of a fixed-grip quad chair at South Ridge next summer. Most of the plans involve base infrastructure and real estate but the lift news is exciting given the South Ridge area has been without direct service since its triple chair was removed in 2011. The $3 million quad chair will be the first new lift at the East’s most visited resort since the addition of the Skye Peak Express in 2008. “This Bear Mountain Revitalization Plan is especially exciting for me because I know that our core group of season pass holders has wanted a new South Ridge lift since the day we removed the old one,” says Mike Solimano, president and general manager of Killington Resort. “With the trail work our team has planned, this layout should greatly enhance the Killington experience by improving connectivity between the north and south sides of the resort.” The Bear Mountain Quad, a 1979 Yan will remain for now but is likely to be upgraded in the future with new development at its base.
Lift Engineering built the old South Ridge lift in the shape of a triangle, a wacky setup that will not be repeated. The new version will follow the path of the old light side from the bottom of Roundabout to an unload near the summit of Killington Peak. “From the top of the Bear Mountain Quad, the long-awaited replacement of the South Ridge lift will give skiers and snowboarders easy access the resort’s north side terrain including the Canyon and Snowdon areas, or easy access to the many trails in the sunny South Ridge area,” says Jeff Temple, director of mountain operations. Leitner-Poma is likely to build the fixed-grip quad as a longstanding supplier to Killington, but there’s also a chance it could go to Doppelmayr with Powdr Co.’s recent history. In further good news, The Beast also announced an agreement yesterday to host World Cup ski racing in both 2017 and 2018.