Big Sky Moving Forward with Bubble Six-Pack & Challenger Replacement

Boyne Resorts has firmed up an approximately $10 million deal with Doppelmayr USA to build a flagship detachable lift in The Bowl at Big Sky Resort and replace the damaged Challenger double with an all-new fixed-grip triple chair this summer, according to multiple sources.  The resort announced back in February that two new lifts were coming but has yet to officially say much else.  These will be the first new lifts built in Big Sky since Moonlight Basin, Spanish Peaks and the Yellowstone Club went bankrupt in 2008-10 and a sure sign that the region has bounced back.

Doppelmayr bubble chair with heated seats at Sunshine Village, similar to what will be installed at Big Sky.

The big story here is the six-pack replacement of the Lone Peak triple which will be just the sixth lift in North America to feature chairs with bubbles and heated seats.  The others are at Park City, Sunshine Village, Okemo and the private Hermitage Club in Vermont.  The new six pack’s alignment will be altered from the current lift for better traffic flow and the bottom station will feature 90-degree loading.  The lift will be just over 3,000 feet long with a vertical rise of approximately 800 feet and ride time of just three minutes.

The new Challenger lift will be a bottom drive/bottom tension fixed-grip triple with loading carpet, capable of spinning up to 500 feet a minute for a 9.5 minute ride.  The Challenger double chair that broke in February only ran 396 fpm.   Challenger will most likely feature Doppelmayr’s Tristar drive/tension terminal and an expanded unloading area next to the summit of the Headwaters double.

Removal of Challenger began in March in preparation for a new lift. Photo credit: Everett K.

The Big Sky region has the largest contiguous lift network in the Western Hemisphere with more than 50 lifts spread across Lone Peak, Pioneer and Andesite Mountains. These two new lifts will join six detachable chairlifts and the Lone Peak Tram in Big Sky Resort’s lift fleet.  Presumably the region will see more lift upgrades in the coming years and both Big Sky Resort and the Yellowstone Club are looking at building new gondolas.

20 thoughts on “Big Sky Moving Forward with Bubble Six-Pack & Challenger Replacement

  1. Matt Campbell April 25, 2016 / 12:33 pm

    I still can’t believe they’re building this incredibly awesome bowl lift and only running it this short distance (which I’m guessing will make it one of the shortest in the country). Seems like a bubble six pack would be a perfect lift to run all the way down to the base to give some relief to the swift current quad (maybe with a mid loading at the base of the bowl). Either way though, I’m going to love riding this lift and skiing the bowl next season!!


    • Doppelmayr FTW! June 3, 2016 / 10:02 am

      I did some google earthing and research on this site and it will Not be on the list of top 10 shortest high speed lifts. but I agree it is pretty short. however for day skiers who want to ski everything the bowl has to offer (seriously it is like a small ski resort on its own) a short lift ride is perfect to ski it all and move on to the next area of the resort.


  2. Matt Caron April 25, 2016 / 12:46 pm

    A heated bubble six seems like absolute overkill for the bowl. I would guess Boyne is serious about an 8 pax gondola from the base to the base of this new chair. If that never gets built, this will be a huge waste of money. The challenger replacement is worthwhile, but I feel the $$ could have been better spent on the HSS elsewhere (as in at Big Sky or in the Boyne resort family).


    • ah April 25, 2016 / 6:56 pm

      No kidding! Other than the rush to the gondola in the morning, the current triple usually isn’t full. That said, 3 minutes vs. 9 is great. Can’t wait to lie down on those heated seats . . .


    • Doppelmayr FTW! June 3, 2016 / 10:06 am

      if you think that is overkill Don’t look in to Ishgl Austria (forgive my spelling I’m not sure how to pronounce it). they have like four double six-packs with heated seats that are SHORTER than the new bowl lift Not to mention the longer ones…


  3. ah April 25, 2016 / 6:58 pm

    Thanks for update Peter.

    Will the lift turn in the same direction? And will the lift line then be on the “back” side of the lift if you ski down from Swifty or the Bowl (i.e., where the run-out for Upper Morningstar is)?


    • Peter Landsman April 25, 2016 / 10:28 pm

      Sounds to me like the maze will be by the soup place and lift will run counter clockwise.


      • ah April 26, 2016 / 10:07 am

        Okay – I can see how that would work. Somehow got in my head there might be a 90-degree offload too and couldn’t see *that* working at the top with a counterclockwise turn (although on offload straight onto the slope is pretty close to the top of Challenger ;)


  4. julestheshiba April 25, 2016 / 7:07 pm

    I hope that they use the new Alpin Star design (Rafferty Quad) for the challenger lift because I like the design.


  5. julestheshiba April 25, 2016 / 7:12 pm

    Also how may lifts have the same type of drive terminal as the Challenger lift? They seem rare.


      • Doppelmayr FTW! April 26, 2016 / 7:55 am

        I’ve seen them in michigan at nubs nob (horrible skiing btw)


  6. julestheshiba April 26, 2016 / 11:48 am

    Those are different. They are one of the final designs Riblet ever made for their lifts.


  7. RMurphy April 28, 2016 / 12:01 am

    You mentioned it will become the sixth lift with heated seats and bubbles. Orange Bubble,TP LX, North Star, Barnstormer and soon to be Lone Peak. What did I forget?


    • Peter Landsman April 28, 2016 / 12:05 am

      Okemo added bubble chairs with heated seats to the Jackson Gore Express and renamed in Quantum Four last year.


      • GreatEight December 17, 2018 / 8:22 am

        Quantum Four only has orange bubbles, not heated seats.


    • J May 7, 2016 / 5:43 am

      Mount Snow also has a heated bubble six-pack, the Bluebird Express


      • tjskiloaf17 May 7, 2016 / 6:00 am

        Mount Snow’s bubble is not heated.


      • GreatEight December 17, 2018 / 8:23 am

        Also only bubbles, not heated.


  8. Doppelmayr FTW! June 3, 2016 / 9:56 am

    If you go to there website, you can see the demo of the triple right now on the interactive tram cam and I believe the bottom terminal is almost ready for excavation on the new lift.


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