Instagram Tuesday: Shasta

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

News Roundup: Alterra, Boyne, Powdr and Vail

News Roundup: Early August

Sun Valley Plans New Warm Springs Lifts

The Sun Valley Company and US Forest Service are soliciting public comments on an ambitious plan to redesign lift service on the Warm Springs side of Bald Mountain. First, a new Challenger six place chairlift is proposed to replace the aging Challenger and Greyhawk detachable quads. Challenger is no ordinary chairlift – it services more vertical than any other chair in North America – 3,142 vertical feet in nine minutes. Greyhawk runs parallel to Challenger for its first 1,488 feet of vertical. Both Lift Engineering-turned-Doppelmayr detachables date back to 1988. The wider gauge Challenger would feature a mid-unloading station at the top of the Upper Greyhawk and move 2,400 skiers per hour.

The project also includes a new Flying Squirrel/Lift A detachable quad. The original Flying Squirrel opened in 1972 and operated until February 1st, 2014, when it was destroyed by a drive terminal fire. The lift was removed the following offseason but never replaced. The A quad would follow a modified alignment, loading at the base of Warm Springs and terminating near the top of Picabo’s Street and Flying Squirrel. It would move up to 1,800 skiers per hour and provide key redundancy out of the base area. The Flying Squirrel run would be extended downhill to the bottom of Warm Springs and the new lift’s load point. New snowmaking would also be included.

If approved, both new lifts would be constructed in 2023 and open for the 2023-24 ski season. A manufacturer has not been announced. Sun Valley currently operates an all Doppelmayr fleet but the resort’s parent company recently partnered with Leitner-Poma for a new six passenger lift at Snowbasin.

Update: Both lifts will be built by Doppelmayr.

Pacific Group Resorts Bids $58 Million for Jay Peak

The Jay Peak Receiver today filed a motion to enter a sale agreement with Pacific Group Resorts, Inc., a Park City-based operator of five North American ski areas. Importantly, the proposed sale process allows for bids from other companies in excess of PGRI’s $58 million offer. “The time has come for the Receiver to sell the Jay Peak Resort,” wrote Akerman LLP, the law firm appointed to oversee Jay Peak and related assets after the Securities and Exchange Commission uncovered widespread fraud. “When the Receiver took over the Jay Peak Resort in April 2016, it was on the verge of collapse having little money and making very little profit,” receiver Michael Goldberg wrote. “Now, after more than six years, the Jay Peak Resort is significantly more profitable and hundreds of jobs have been saved. The Receiver attributes this success to his top notch management team and the dedicated employees who work tirelessly to make Jay Peak one of the greatest ski resorts in the country,” The Asset Purchase Agreement does not include Burke Mountain assets, which are currently part of the same receivership.

It’s not clear how long the sale process will take but under the agreement potential bidders would have 30 days from the time the District Court approves bid procedures to submit offers. If qualified bidder(s) beyond Pacific Group emerge, a private auction would take place shortly after the bid deadline. Should another buyer prevail, Pacific Group would be paid a breakup fee of $1.25 million plus expenses from the sale proceeds. “Other parties have expressed interest in purchasing the Jay Peak Resort over the past few years, however, only Pacific Group Resorts, Inc. has been willing to submit a binding bid,” notes the motion. “The Receiver is hopeful that perhaps another bidder will surface at the auction.”

No matter who ends up with Jay Peak, the sale will certainly have season pass implications. Pacific Group Resorts currently operates Mt. Washington Alpine Resort on Vancouver Island, Powderhorn Resort in Colorado, Wisp Resort in Maryland, Wintergreen Resort in Virginia and Ragged Mountain Resort in New Hampshire. None of those mountains currently participate in the Epic, Ikon or Indy multi-mountain passes. Jay Peak on the other hand is the single largest Indy Pass resort by redemptions.

After news of the potential deal surfaced, Pacific Group Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Christian Knapp tweeted “The possibility of Pacific Group Resorts, Inc. purchasing Jay Peak Resort is extremely exciting and would be an incredible fit for our company, but by no means is it a done deal. Filing the APA is one more step in an extraordinarily long process that started more than 3 years ago.”

News Roundup: Gunstock & More

Park City Mountain Appeals Lift Approval Revocation

Park City Mountain on Wednesday appealed the Park City Planning Commission’s decision to revoke approval of the permit to upgrade the Silverlode and Eagle chairlifts, which were schedule to be built this summer. “The City Planning Director made the right decision to issue this permit, supported by her extensive, four-month-long analysis and the advice of three outside experts,” said Sara Huey, Vail Resorts Senior Manager of Communications in a statement. “There is no evidence that she made a mistake, and we believe her decision will be upheld in this next step in the process.” Silverlode was scheduled to become Vail Resorts’ first eight passenger and first D-Line chairlift in North America and Eagle was to be a detachable six with a mid unloading station. The appeal was filed in District Court.

Four citizens appealed the initial approval, arguing the project should not have been approved by administratively by city staff. They also questioned the degree to which the new lifts would increase traffic and said the mountain’s parking mitigation plan was insufficient. The residents’ appeal was granted by a vote of 3 to 1 at a June Planning Commission meeting. “While we disagreed with the outcome, we respect the right of four residents to appeal the Planning Director’s decision and likewise we have the right to appeal the Planning Commission’s decision,” continued Vail’s statement today. “In parallel with this appeal, we, of course, remain committed to working with the City to explore options to ensure that the resort moves forward with these important replacements of equipment that was installed many decades ago.”

While the process plays out, Doppelmayr and Park City are placing lift equipment which has already been delivered into storage. When I stopped by last week, parts were being sorted and loaded onto trailers.

Error Pauses Bergman Bowl Construction at Keystone

Keystone Resort has apologized and halted some work on the Bergman Bowl expansion due to a mistake made by the construction team. “An area that was supposed to have a minimal construction route was instead approached as a temporary construction route. This was due to a misunderstanding by our construction team, for which we take full responsibility,” read a statement from Keystone Vice President and General Manager Chris Sorensen released this afternoon. “Keystone Resort has a long history of successful partnership with the U.S. Forest Service on projects that provide guests the opportunity to enjoy outdoor recreation within our National Forest. We take this mistake seriously, and at their direction have paused some work at the site while the USFS conducts an assessment to determine next steps,” he continued.

The expansion encompasses 555 acres with 16 new trails and is one of the largest capital projects in the United States ski industry this season. Leitner-Poma was in the process of building the six passenger Bergman Express, set to top out at 12,282 feet in elevation. Keystone’s statement did not specify whether it was resort employees or a contractor that made the mistake. “We deeply regret the impact this unauthorized construction activity has had on the environment that our team works carefully to protect every day. At this time, we do not yet know if this will impact the opening of lift-served terrain at Bergman Bowl this season,” said Sorensen, who promised to keep the public informed.

The Bergman project is part of the Epic Lift Upgrade, a push to build or replace 21 lifts across 14 Vail resorts in 2022. Two large lift projects at Park City were already dropped from this year’s program due to a successful appeal by local residents.