- It’s never good when a ski resort sends out a press release assuring guests it will open next season. Q Burke Mountain Resort, with five lifts including two Leitner-Poma high speed quads, is laying off all but 20 of its employees and “looking carefully at cost-cutting and cost-containment measures.”
- Lookout Pass moves toward 91 acres of new terrain, two more fixed-grip lifts and a high-speed-quad replacement for its oldest lift.
- The father of 9-year old who fell from a chair after seven minutes of dangling sues Liberty Mountain Resort claiming inadequate staffing.
- The man who pushed another man off an Aspen Highlands chairlift in January will plead not guilty by reason of insanity.
- Mont Bellevue in Quebec will build a $1.5 million Doppelmayr quad chair this summer.
- Construction season is here and Caberfae Peaks already has its first delivery.
- Props to Alyeska lift maintenance for getting the Glacier Bowl Express back in action after last week’s fire.
Fresh on the heels of adding three lifts at his collective of Southwestern resorts last summer, James Coleman revealed today he will invest another $10 million to build new lifts and more at Arizona Snowbowl and Purgatory in 2016.
The Leitner-Poma-built Grand Canyon Express will serve 85 percent of Arizona Snowbowl’s terrain with a 5.8 minute lift ride. It will run approximately 5,500′ (1,530 vertical feet) in a new alignment starting near the Hart Prarie Lodge and topping out at 10,900′ in elevation near the Agassiz mid-station. This is the second new chairlift at Arizona Snowbowl following last summer’s Humphreys Peak addition that expanded the mountain’s intermediate terrain with a SkyTrac quad. The Sunset triple (a 1983 CTEC) will likely be removed and may be used to replace the Aspen double in the future. Arizona Snowbowl’s master plan also calls for a second detachable lift to replace the Hart Prarie double. Exciting times at a mountain whose very survival was questionable a few years ago!
In Colorado, Purgatory Resort will get a new two-way surface lift called T-3 to link the bottom terminals of backside lifts 5 and 8. The latter is a 1980 Riblet double, the former a 2015 Leitner-Poma high speed quad. Purgatory plans to add a similar connection between lifts 3 and 5 and replace more of the resort’s aging fixed-grip chairlifts (namely #2, 4 and 5) in upcoming years.
Mr. Coleman is the Durango-based businessman who’s owned Sipapu since 2000 and took over operations at Pajarito, Purgatory and Arizona Snowbowl in 2014. When the Durango Herald asked last year whether he was done buying ski areas, Coleman replied “no.” That’s great news considering his willingness to invest in capital improvements to the tune of $20 million thus far.
If you’ve never driven over 9,700′ Guardsman Pass in the summer, you might not realize just how close Brighton Ski Resort is to the upper reaches of Park City Mountain. In fact, from Brighton’s fire station to the top of the Jupiter lift is less than 7,000 linear feet. It’s this reality and a similar one in Alta’s Grizzly Gulch that makes Ski Utah’s One Wasatch concept tantalizingly close to becoming reality. But the feeling that the Wasatch just isn’t that big also has environmental groups scrambling to prevent any more of these mountains from becoming ski runs. The challenge for Save Our Canyons, the Sierra Club and others is that all the land needed to complete One Wasatch is already in the private hands of Royal Street Land Company (owner of Deer Valley,) Iron Mountain Associates (developer of The Colony) and Alta Ski Lifts Co.
Over the Pass
I’m convinced Park City and Brighton will be connected first. Ski Utah calls the two lifts needed for this connection Guardsman A and Guardsman B. They would rise from a common point adjacent to Guardsman Pass Road between Brighton and Park City’s Jupiter pod on land owned by Royal Street a.k.a. Deer Valley. Operationally, it would make the most sense for CNL/Boyne to build and operate these lifts as part of Brighton. Guardsman A, which would need approval from UDOT to cross State Route 190, would likely be a detachable quad approximately 4,065′ long with a vertical rise of 740′ ending near the top of Jupiter. Guardsman B would rise back towards Brighton and be a detachable quad about 3,800′ long with a vertical of 1,235′.
Royal Street Land Company has a strong interest in completing the Guardsman connection because it now also owns Solitude. With Guardsman in place, a Deer Valley skier at the top of Lady Morgan Express could ride 4 lifts (Pioneer and Jupiter at Park City, Guardsman B and Milly Express at Brighton) and be at Solitude in less than an hour. The return trip would be almost as easy – Summit Express to Great Western Express to Guardsman A and Park City Mountain, which already abuts Deer Valley. Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County would both need to approve the Guardsman lifts before construction could begin.
We now know what the world’s largest tramway cabins look like. One bright yellow and the other red, CWA’s largest Kronos cabins built to date will hold 230 passengers plus one operator each with six sets of doors on two levels. They will soon be hung on the Ha Long Queen cable car, whose track cables already stretch 5,000 feet across Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay at heights up to 617 feet. The Queen will supplant the 200-passenger Vanoise Express as the world’s highest capacity aerial tram when it opens early this summer.
- Three people injured in a March 2014 de-ropement on a Mueller double chair at Crystal Mountain, BC have filed claims against the resort. The BC Safety Authority’s investigation found the cause to be low tension in the haul rope due to the lift’s counterweight resting on the ground. Crystal Mountain has been closed ever since.
- Wolf Creek’s owner still floating the idea of a low capacity jag-back tram on the backside of the mountain.
- Re-opening plan for Antelope Butte Ski Area moves forward with two Riblet doubles scheduled to be back in operation by December 2017.
- Another child falls from a chair, this time on the Glacier Express at Lake Louise.
- Saddleback is probably the largest ski resort ever to go out of business.
- A group has formed in opposition to Arapahoe Basin’s proposed Beavers expansion, which would include a new chairlift.
- Killington’s Skye Peak Express had to be rope evac’d Friday afternoon, possibly as a result of damage from a thunderstorm the day before.
Yesterday Doppelmayr released a series of videos on YouTube highlighting the specifications and features of the company’s latest evolution in detachable technology called D-Line. While these are computer animations, there is a real-life prototype at Doppelmayr’s Wolfurt campus and the launch customer opened the first D-Line gondola last December in Hochgurgl, Austria. The first video highlights the CWA Omega IV SI D cabin, which has a simplified hanger and larger overall dimensions. 10-passenger cabins appear to be the standard for D-Line rather than 8-passenger cabins.
You can also take a tour of the detachable grip-D with a virtual tear-down. The grip-D can support ropes up to 64mm in diameter, carry up to 4,000 lbs and operate on 45-degree rope inclines.
Perhaps most interesting is the Station-D, which has gotten some negative reaction for its appearance. We now learn there is a boxier version utilizing real glass that can even be customized into a video wall.
D-Line will be available in North America in 2017 alongside the current-generation UNIG terminals and Agamatic/DT grips offered by Doppelmayr.
Alyeska got lucky early this morning when a fire broke out at the Glacier Bowl Express chair parking facility but did not spread to the lift itself. Girdwood Fire Department and Alyeska crews responded at 5:27 am, accessing the scene by snowcat and using the mountain’s snowmaking system to fight the fire. “We are actively investigating the cause of the fire and will know more details later today when investigators can access the scene,” said Mountain General Manger Di Whitney in a statement. “We are grateful for the speedy response and support from Girdwood Fire Department which did a fantastic job putting out the fire.”
The Glacier Bowl Express is a 2013 Doppelmayr detachable quad built to replace another high speed quad installed in 1988. Considering the barn is at the drive station, this fire could have been much worse. The lift’s operator house is a separate building on the other side of the terminal. Alyeska re-opened much of the mountain at 1pm today and says it will have the Glacier Bowl Express back in action soon.
Update 3/25/16: GBX is still down. Alyeska’s snow reports notes, “we have initiated a plan to resume operations of Glacier Bowl Express this season. The fire investigation and preliminary mechanical inspections have been completed, and equipment and tools to make the repairs have arrived. Experts are on site today to assist with repairs, and inspectors will be in place to confirm successful repairs and oversee the return to safe operations.” From the below post on Instagram, it looks like the fire damaged the haul rope, requiring repair.
- Leitner highlights its latest project in Mexico, a pulse gondola to access a popular statue in Torreon.
- Gangloff unveils unique aerial tramway cabins fabricated for an urban aerial tramway in France with privacy glass that can be turned on when passing over homes.
- Historic data from Newenglandskiindustry.com suggests this summer could be about average for lift construction in the Northeast or the worst in 63 years.
- 26 green and gold Diamond cabins arrive at Poma’s latest project in Peru, a gondola that will access the ancient fortress of Kuelap.
- Magic Mountain, Idaho wants to re-install Jackson Hole’s old Casper lift as a beginner chair.
- Mt. Sunapee scores approval for its West Bowl expansion with six new trails and a 5,100′ high speed quad chair.
- Check out footage of the multi-year project to build Fansipan Legend, the world’s longest 3S gondola to the roof of Vietnam.