News Roundup: Another LST

  • Mi Teleférico announces it will transport its hundred millionth commuter in early December, three and a half years after opening La Paz’s first urban gondola.  Eight gondolas now operate with two more forming the Orange Line set to debut September 29th. The White Line will follow in the first quarter of 2018 and the network will transport some 50 million passengers next year.
  • Waterville Valley receives approval to build a T-Bar this fall in place of the High Country double.  It’s the second North American project for LST Ropeways, the French company that collaborated with Skytrac to build the Valar T-Bar at nearby Cannon Mountain last year (an arrangement made before Leitner-Poma bought Skytrac.)
  • Saddleback begins removal of the Rangeley double in preparation for its replacement.  The Cupsuptic T-Bar will now be repaired rather than replaced, providing access to the Kennebago quad until Rangeley is complete.  “The scope of this project is partially what drove the decision to repair versus replace the T-Bar,” Saddleback says.  “If we had replaced both, there is a chance that there would not be any skiing this year if early snow arrived.”

  • LST’s first detachable lift, which opened on July 29th in La Plagne, closed August 17th, apparently so adjustments can be made before winter.
  • Gould Academy’s new T-Bar on Locke Mountain at Sunday River will cost an estimated $750,000 and serve up to 1,200 racers per hour, rising 815 vertical feet.
  • Sugarbush’s two new Alpen Stars are coming right along.
  • Jackson Hole’s Sweetwater Gondola cabins are going inside this winter. 

     

     

  • Could a gondola from Windsor, Ontario help Detroit land Amazon’s second HQ?
  • Now’s your chance to weigh in on New York’s proposed Capital District Gondola.
  • The latest from St. Maarten, where a chairlift-based adventure park was slated to open just days after Hurricane Irma hit:

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Instagram Tuesday: Upward

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

Look what we did yesterday… #WinterIsComing

A post shared by Boyne Mountain Resort (@boyne.mountain) on

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In a Booming Region, Stevens Pass Looks to Expand

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Up to five more high-speed quads like the new Jupiter Express could join the Stevens Pass lift fleet over the next 10-15 years.

Once again in 2016, Seattle found itself the fastest-growing big city in America, and the only one of the top five in close proximity to major mountain resorts.  The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area is now home to 3.8 million people, seven figures more than metro Denver or the Wasatch Front and growing faster than both.  Yet despite being generally outdoorsy and with high average incomes, Puget Sound residents have only three real choices for where to spend a day skiing.  Unlike in neighboring Oregon, where three resorts flank Mt. Hood and another Mt. Bachelor, Washington’s large volcanoes never saw ski development before being placed under conservation.  Most of Washington State’s ski areas lie far from Puget Sound, along which two-thirds of Washingtonians live, concentrating some 1.5 million skiers annually at The Summit at SnoqualmieStevens Pass and Crystal Mountain.

Crystal spun off from Boyne Resorts in April to become Seattle’s only locally-owned and operated mountain. The resort’s master plan includes new lifts but most of them have already been built.  Michigan-based Boyne still operates The Summit at Snoqualmie, just 45 minutes from Amazon’s new 24,000-head complex in Downtown Seattle.  The Summit’s approved plan includes a dozen new lifts but almost all of them simply replace very old ones.  That leaves the place where I first rode a detachable chairlift in 1997, Stevens Pass, to meet much of the Puget Sound region’s growing demand for local skiing.  As the second busiest resort in Washington, Stevens averages double the skier density of Crystal and Snoqualmie.  Located along U.S. Route 2, Stevens Pass grew under the ownership of Seattle-based Harbor Properties, which also at one point held Mission Ridge and Schweitzer.  In 2011, Harbor sold Stevens to CNL Lifestyle Properties with operations assumed by Karl Kapuscinski of Mountain High, California.  Stevens saw one new lift during CNL’s tenure, a Doppelmayr detachable in Mill Valley called Jupiter Express.

As the 2007 Stevens Pass master plan notes, “demand for skiing facilities currently exceeds capacity both on the trails, on the lifts and in the base area.  A a result, Stevens Pass frequently experiences days when these facilities are overcrowded, resulting in the use of satellite parking, long lift lines, lack of seating and a shortage of restrooms.” The introduction concludes by noting Stevens has been over-utilized every year since 1995. But with its ambitious upgrade plan approved in 2015 and new stability following the sale of CNL’s ski holdings to hedge fund Och-Ziff last fall, more lifts and less crowding are on the horizon.

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Stevens’ two oldest Riblets are planned to be replaced under the current MDP filed with the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  I will miss this breakover!

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News Roundup: Photos

  • Bear Valley seeks a name for its new six-pack.
  • While we wait for D-Line to come to North America, check out this one going up in Austria.
  • Fly day photos from Pats Peak show major Skytrac upgrades to Ascutney’s old Snowdance triple.
  • I was asked by ANSI to link to the new B77.1-2017 Standard for Passenger Ropeways, which replaces the 2011 version.
  • See how Sun Valley swaps a haul rope.
  • Connecticut’s Woodbury Ski Area, with one 1976 Hall double, is for sale.
  • As NSAA weighs its future again, industry leaders chime in anonymously on aging lifts and more.
  • Proposed Steamboat budget includes $3.78 million to replace the Burrows chairlift at Howelsen Hill with a fixed-grip quad in 2019.
  • Powder and others spread headlines that Colorado resorts are adding more roller coasters than chairlifts this season.  However they missed Copper Mountain’s new high-speed quad and counted Vail Resorts’ four new detachables separately from Colorado Ski Country USA.  The state as a whole is actually adding its most new lifts since 2013 (six) and fewer mountain coasters (four.)

Instagram Tuesday: Vail Land

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

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Alta’s New Supreme will be Just That

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Leitner-Poma is building a big new lift in Little Cottonwood Canyon this summer, the company’s first in the Beehive State since 1997.  Alta Ski Area created a brand around being old school but the new Supreme high-speed quad will showcase the latest technology from Grand Junction and beyond.  The new lift will bring detachable access to nearly all of Alta’s terrain and will be Leitner-Poma’s first lift to make a turn using canted sheaves rather than an angle station (there must be something in Utah’s water because Supreme will be the state’s fourth lift to make such turns of varying degrees for various reasons.)  Alta Ski Area worked with LPOA and the Forest Service on an alignment that effectively replaces both the Cecret and Supreme lifts while reducing impacts to wetlands and surrounding forests in exchange for expedited approval.  As I saw yesterday, it’s all coming together nicely.

The rugged Point Supreme is abuzz with construction.  The new lift’s first few towers follow a direct path from the future drive station near Alf’s Restaurant to the former Supreme bottom terminal.  Just above the old station site, a series of three closely-spaced towers achieve the necessary line turn.  From here, the lift jogs steeply up, mirroring the former triple chair.  Two Yan tower tubes near the summit still stand and might be re-used with new tower heads.  Update 9/14/17: All 16 towers will be new.
altasuprememap

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Snowbasin’s First Six-Pack Rises

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The bottom terminal for Snowbasin Resort’s new Wildcat six-pack sits just below the Becker load station and will improve access to intermediate terrain on the lower mountain.

Revealed in a surprise March announcement, Snowbasin Resort will debut its fifth detachable lift this winter on a slope rich with history.  As chronicled in an awesome blog post, the upcoming Wildcat Express replaces a 1973 Thiokol, which itself replaced parallel Constam single and American Cableways double chairs.  When the Holding family invested massively to build a new base area, two gondolas, a high-speed quad and aerial tramway in the 1998 run up to the Olympics, all of Snowbasin’s old lifts were left in place.  Ten years later, Littlecat was swapped for a Doppelmayr detachable quad and now it’s Wildcat’s turn.

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1983 Snowbasin trail map shows two Wildcat lifts above from what used to be the base area.  Technically the new Doppelmayr is Wildcat IV!

Like the Littlecat Express next door, Wildcat Express will be a green and white Doppelmayr Uni-G with torsion grips.  The six-place chairs will feature slats rather than backrests for wind resistance along the relatively exposed profile.  The new haul rope is manufactured by Redaelli and the lift will whisk 2,400 skiers an hour to Middle Bowl in just six minutes.  Most components have arrived at Snowbasin and the Doppelmayr crew is working six days a week towards completion.

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News Roundup: Mother Nature

  • Lawsuit filed by man who fell from Seven Springs chairlift in 2015 thrown out.
  • CWA joins Instagram and look at how many gondola cabins are waiting to leave the factory this fall!
  • Snowbasin now has live streaming webcams at both six-pack terminal construction sites.
  • “Time is of the essence,” Snow King GM says seeking approval for Summit Gondola and ski expansion.
  • I hit four awesome retro T-Baronly ski areas in Idaho last weekend.
  • Red Bull turns Swedish tramway into a rope swing.
  • Two Skytrac quad chairs reaching the highest point on the Dutch side of St. Maarten faced a huge test Tuesday, taking a direct hit from a Category 5 hurricane just ten days before their scheduled grand opening.  Skytrac says the lifts were designed to withstand 200 mph winds.
  • This was the view from the gondola Monday night as wildfire threatened Crystal Mountain.  The fire has already burned much of East Peak, inside the permitted ski area where Crystal sought approval to build a new lift in 2004.090420172030_l

Instagram Tuesday: Alpha

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

That escalated quickly #SmokyMountains #Gatlinburg #SkyLift #SkiLift #Tennessee

A post shared by Robert Taylor (@robert_w_taylor) on

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News Roundup: Fly Day

  • Firm pitches gondola to link South Station to the Seaport district in Boston.
  • The United Nations Human Settlements Programme and Doppelmayr publish a 12-page summary of their first Academy of Sustainable Urban Mobility conference held in Austria last April.
  • LST Ropeways will build its second North American lift at Waterville Valley, though Skytrac will no longer provide controls, operator houses and installation for the French company.
  • A new Doppelmayr gondola, bubble high speed quad and triple chair will debut in December on Eglise Mountain at the Yellowstone Club, by far the biggest lift project in North American skiing for 2017.  Thanks to Everett K. for these cool photos of the progress.
  • Y.C. has also listed for sale the 160-acre Cedar View Ranch, offering someone the opportunity to build a private lift to the bottom of the Lake lift.
  • Anakeesta opens tomorrow.
  • Eldora flies towers and ditches the announced Eldo Express name in favor of Alpenglow.  Photos credit Michael Weise.