Jackson Hole to Build Another Gondola

The sign went up this week at Jackson Hole, which will become the 12th mountain in the United States with the distinction of having two gondolas.  The new Sweetwater Gondola will replace the Eagle’s Rest and Sweetwater chairs in two stages.  Built by Doppelmayr, it will boost out-of-base capacity by 25% and provide direct access to beginner and intermediate terrain at mid-mountain.  In the future, a dedicated learning facility with dining, lessons and rentals will open at the mid-station just north of Sweetwater’s existing bottom station. Though expensive, gondolas have proven to be extremely efficient and less intimidating than chairlifts for people learning to ski and snowboard.

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It looks like Doppelmayr will modify its Uni-G terminal skin in an effort to match the Poma terminals next door at Teewinot and Bridger.

This section of Rendezvous Mountain has an interesting lift history.  A Riblet double chair named Crystal Springs served a similar alignment but with no mid-station from 1978 until 1997, when it was removed to make way for the Bridger Center and Bridger Gondola.  If you ride Eagle’s Rest today, there is still one Riblet tower where the old Crystal Springs crossed under on its way up.  Eagle’s Rest is one of three original lifts opened at Jackson Hole in 1965, even before the first tram.  When Eagle’s Rest is retired this spring there will be just six Murray-Latta lifts remaining in service worldwide.  The new gondola also replaces Sweetwater, a triple chair that found its way to Jackson in 2005 by way of Winter Park. It was the Zephyr triple from 1983 to 1990 and Eskimo from 1990 to 1999 before sitting in storage for six years. Built by Lift Engineering, it was upgraded over time with Poma chairs/line gear and Doppelmayr CTEC controls.  Assuming it gets re-installed somewhere, the equipment will be in its fourth home!

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Sweetwater’s two sections will have around 8 towers each.

Sweetwater will get 48 CWA Omega IV LWI 8-passenger cabins to start with the option to add a dozen more.  Slope length will be 4,196 feet, less than half the length of the Bridger Gondola and with a modest vertical rise of 1,276 feet.  With only one haul rope, the two sections will always operate together.  The drive station will be up top with cabin parking at the Solitude mid-station. Ride time for the combined lift is 7.5 minutes at 800 feet a minute.  Similar to the Mt. Rainier Gondola and Buckaroo Express, a design speed of 800 allows for Doppelmayr’s shortest detachable stations in locations with limited space. Sweetwater will move 1,600 passengers per hour initially, bumping up to 2,000 when more cabins are added.  It took nine years before extra cabins were needed for Bridger in 2006.

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The new gondola will travel to the looker’s right of the current Eagle’s Rest and Sweetwater chairs.  In the distance, you can see the old Crystal Springs and Sweetwater lift lines.

With a new gondola operational next fall, the 20-year old Sublette quad will be JHMR’s oldest lift.  The resort will operate a total of 12 lifts including a $31 million tram, two modern gondolas and eight quad chairs.  Another beginner chairlift and multiple magic carpets to replace Eagle’s Rest are also in the pipeline.

For the official Sweetwater Gondola announcement, click here.

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15 thoughts on “Jackson Hole to Build Another Gondola

  1. Mike January 17, 2016 / 8:37 pm

    Definitely needed to help with the congestion at the base. It will get the intermediate skiers up to Casper much faster.

    Like

  2. julestheshiba January 17, 2016 / 9:05 pm

    do you think you could get more pictures of the eagles rest since it is so rare, plus I love small old lifts. I just want to see it before it dies.

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  3. julestheshiba January 17, 2016 / 9:17 pm

    also could you list all the remaining m-latta lifts?

    Like

    • Peter Landsman January 17, 2016 / 9:23 pm

      -Red T-Bar, Canyon Mountain, Alberta
      -Orange & Blue, Manning Park, British Columbia
      -Brockton Mt. Seymour, British Columbia
      -Chairlift, Silver Summit, Alberta
      -Silver King, Whitewater, British Columbia

      Liked by 1 person

      • julestheshiba January 18, 2016 / 10:15 am

        Is Olympic at Lake Louise still there but abandoned?

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      • Peter Landsman January 18, 2016 / 11:00 am

        Olympic is still standing but hasn’t had chairs on it since 2004.

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  4. TJ January 18, 2016 / 5:41 am

    so what exactly is that terminal model? New D-Line?

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    • TJ January 18, 2016 / 6:17 am

      whoops i read further and I see now. Why won’t this be a D-Line model? Not worth it? But I do really like this modified skin and could it become the standard skin?

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      • Peter Landsman January 18, 2016 / 7:42 am

        Everyone except Leitner seems to be going towards squared terminals like the D-Line. I’ll be interested to see what this custom Uni-G looks like in person.

        I bet it’s still a few years before we see D-Line in the states. When the Uni-G came over from Europe, only two were installed the first year and one the second. Same with the Uni-GS; Doppelmayr only built one prototype the first year.

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      • TJ January 18, 2016 / 10:49 am

        I do kinda wish that this would be the standard uni-g

        Like

  5. Doug Ayers January 18, 2016 / 10:32 am

    Who is gonna work on it ?

    Liked by 1 person

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