News Roundup: Busy Busy

Six Year Old Dies in Quebec T-Bar Incident

Quebec’s Val Saint-Côme reported a young girl died following an accident on a T-Bar Sunday morning. “The family of Val-Saint-Côme is deeply saddened by a tragic accident which occurred Sunday on the mountain,” said François Gagnon, President and CEO of the resort in a statement. “A young skier unfortunately lost her life during the ascent of a T-Bar style lift. It goes without saying that all our thoughts go out to family and friends. An investigation is underway to understand the circumstances of the accident and we will cooperate fully with the authorities.”

The “A” T-Bar serves as a beginner lift and was built by Doppelmayr in 1979.

The resort had just finished hosting an FIS World Cup freestyle skiing event Saturday and closed early Sunday following the child’s death.

Update: Preliminary reports suggest the girl’s clothing may have become entangled with a T. At this time authorities do not believe the lift malfunctioned. The T-Bar remains closed.

New Master Plan Outlines Big Snowmass Upgrades

The Forest Service has accepted an updated Master Development Plan for Snowmass, the second largest ski resort in Colorado. Lift projects include everything from new teaching surface lifts to a two mile long 10 passenger gondola and multiple six place chairlifts. Aspen Skiing Company partnered with SE Group to craft the plan, which identifies incremental upgrades to an already well-balanced mountain with significant excess trail capacity.

Likely coming sooner rather than later out of necessity is the proposed Coneygame lift. The name is a portmanteau of longtime lifts Coney Glade and Burlingame. Coney Glade stands tied for the oldest operating high speed quad in the country (the other is Sunshine at Telluride.) Burlingame was a Riblet double that serviced the Fanny Hill slope and was removed in 2014. As the name implies, Coneygame would be a detachable six pack loading near the Snowmass Mall and unloading at the top of the existing quad. Due to private land ownership, the new lift would require a slight angle change near the Lynn Britt Cabin. It has not been decided whether deflection would be accomplished with a full station or an Alta-style bend with sheaves. At more than 7,000 feet long with an hourly capacity of 2,800 skiers, Coneygame will be a major project regardless.

Aspen Skiing Company also plans to replace the Village Express chairlift with a gondola. The 10 passenger model would include an unloading mid-station with an expansive cabin storage and maintenance space. The gondola would improve year round access to Sam’s Knob and increase out-of-base capacity by 25 percent. As part of the Village gondola conversion, A 750 foot platter lift is proposed that would carry early and late season skiers from high alpine terrain on Big Burn to Sam’s Knob for downloading on the gondola.

The Burnt Mountain expansion remains in long term plans for Snowmass. First approved in 1994 but not implemented, Burnt Mountain includes a 2,700 vertical foot detachable quad. Once built it will immediately become the highest vertical high speed quad on the continent. The Burnt Mountain detachable will also span a remarkable 11,596 feet with an hourly capacity of 2,400 skiers per hour. It would increase the comfortable carrying capacity at Snowmass by 1,340 skiers with expansive glades and access to advanced and intermediate trails.

A number of replacements are also proposed. The popular Cirque Poma would see its capacity double and turn removed when swapped for a modern model. Both the 1993 Alpine Springs and 1995 Elk Camp high speed quads are earmarked for replacements with six seat lifts. Newer Sheer Bliss may eventually get the same treatment. The SkyCab pulse gondola is also identified for replacement with a detachable gondola. Aspen Skiing Company does not own that lift, however and any replacement would be up to Snowmass Village owners.

While Aspen Skiing Company is focused on the Pandora’s expansion on Aspen Mountain this year, the 2022 master plan makes clear Snowmass will be a focus in years to come. With upgraded lifts, the largest of Aspen’s four mountains could comfortably accommodate a whopping 15,000 skiers.

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Alterra Buys Snow Valley, California

Alterra Mountain Company today announced the purchase of its 15th ski area, Snow Valley Mountain Resort in Southern California. Snow Valley operations will fold into nearby Big Bear Mountain Resort, which includes Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. Snow Valley currently operates nine chairlifts including a detachable six pack and eight Yan fixed grips.

“The acquisition of Snow Valley Mountain Resort is a continuation of our ongoing mission to build a premier portfolio of great mountains in robust markets,” said Jared Smith, President and CEO of Alterra Mountain Company. “As we do with all our destinations, we are excited to invest essential capital to enhance the on-site employee and guest experience to further strengthen our offerings to skiers and riders in Southern California.”

The purchase has already closed and Ikon Pass holders can access Snow Valley beginning Monday, February 20th. Snow Valley’s current Indy Pass participation will likely end after this season.

Real Estate Development Plans Lifts Adjacent to Brian Head

Brian Head Resort and a developer jointly announced a project called Aspen Meadows yesterday, to include up to seven chairlifts and a two stage gondola linking to Brian Head Mountain. Construction has already begun on roads and utilities and Aspen Meadows Group is working with SE Group on ski terrain design. The concept includes more than 850 acres of new ski terrain to the north of existing trails on Brian Head Peak.

Aspen Meadows would include a third base area for the ski area with a village center, additional parking and skier services. Preliminary maps show mostly beginner and intermediate trails above the village with lifts up to 4,000 feet long and vertical rises ranging between 300 and 1,100 feet. The gondola would include a transport segment from the existing Navajo base lodge and a ski section within Aspen Meadows.

“Aspen Meadows is truly a special collection of alpine lands, with the perfect slope aspects for ski terrain never before seen by most visitors to this region of southern Utah,” said A. Flint Decker, president of the Aspen Meadows Group. “We’re proud to be a part of this new chapter in our community’s history as we share new ski terrain and resort amenities with the town of Brian Head and the guests of Brian Head Resort.”

No timeline has been set for the first lifts to go in.