The Summit at Snoqualmie sits just 45 minutes from downtown Seattle, the 4th fastest-growing major city in America. With 20 lifts spread across four ski areas, the resort hosts nearly 700,000 skier visits in a good snow year, placing it among the top 15 most-visited resorts nationwide (in a bad snow year, it barely opens.) Three of The Summit’s areas – Summit East, Summit Central and Summit West are connected by ski trails while Alpental stands alone on the opposite side of I-90.
The Pacific Northwest region (Alaska, Washington, Oregon) saw a stunning increase of 142 percent in skier visits last year, more than double the two million visits from the year before. That fact, coupled with an aging lift system means The Summit is primed for major upgrades. The resort still has four Riblets dating from the 1960s and seven from the 1970s.
The Summit at Snoqualmie Master Plan approved in 2008 authorizes replacement of 11 lifts and construction of nine new ones with just six lifts remaining in their current state. The first of these projects have already completed, including all new lifts at Summit East/Hyak and the replacement of Silver Fir with a Leitner-Poma high speed quad. That leaves eleven lift projects planned for the next decade or two at Summit Central, Summit West and Alpental.
The Vermont Passenger Tramway Board won’t allow the Jay Peak Tram to operate until its carriages are overhauled and controls upgraded, which Doppelmayr says will cost $4.9 million. Not to worry, the court-appointed receiver says although “it kind of sucks that it has to happen now,” the work is scheduled and summer tram rides will happen.
The replacement for the La Bufa Cable Car in Zacatecas faces delays over concerns about visual impacts. Poma delivered parts for the pulse gondola lift last winter.
The Kottke survey is out and U.S. ski areas hosted 53.9 million skier visits last season, up slightly from 2014-15. The Pacific Northwest saw its best season ever, up 142 percent, while the Rockies were +8 percent, Pacific Southwest +53 percent and the three Eastern regions declined.
North America is up to 36 new lifts for 2016, up slightly from 2015. For comparison, resorts in Austria, France and Switzerland have ordered 94 lifts for an area roughly the size of Colorado Austria alone is getting 20 new gondolas! Last year the same three countries built 75 new lifts.
Chicago doesn’t have an iconic tourist attraction. There’s no giant Ferris wheel, no observation tower, no famous bridge. Entrepreneurs Lou Raizin and Laurence Geller want to change that with a gondola. Over the past four years, the men studied more than fifty signature attractions in cities around the globe and came up with the Skyline as an iconic attraction for the Windy City. As presented to the City Club of Chicago on May 3rd, the plan includes a gondola from Navy Pier with multiple stops along the Chicago Riverfront. David Marks, the architect behind the London Eye, collaborated on the innovative design with New York-based Davis Brody Bond. Marks also designed the British Airways i360 observation tower with a passenger capsule built by Poma and Sigma. The Skyline project would likely bring together the same team from the Eye and i360 with engineering firm Jacobs Inc. and ropeway technology from Leitner-Poma.
Mr. Raizin and Mr. Geller say they’ve spent millions designing and studying the Skyline, which will cost an estimated $250 million raised from private investors. The premise is sound but the proposal comes with significant challenges.
1. What is it?
“This is not your typical aerial gondola,” Mr. Geller told the City Club. The system would transport 3,000 visitors per hour at 800 feet a minute. That’s pretty standard for a monocable gondola. The challenge is architects want big, beautiful cabins while also keeping a “light footprint” for the system. Renderings show approximately 25-passenger cabins with only one haul rope and no grips. To date, the largest monocable gondolas in the world carry 15 passengers, not 25. Larger cabins require track ropes, bigger terminals and complex towers with saddles.
This week’s New Yorker features real estate website CEO Daniel Levy, who hatched a plan to bring gondolas to the Big Apple while on vacation in Chamonix in 2014. His private venture, dubbed East River Skyway, envisions a trio of 3S gondolas with up to 12 stations connecting points along the East River with landmarks in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. Levy has retained the Canadian firm behind The Gondola Project, Creative Urban Projects Inc., as consultants for the proposal.
Working in East River Skyway’s favor is the fact that New York’s M.T.A. is finalizing plans to shut down a section of the L train subway for a year and a half or drastically reduce service for twice as long. The L train’s tunnel that shuttles 225,000 daily commuters under the East River sustained damaged during Hurricane Sandy and needs up to a billion dollars in repairs.
Cascade Mountain will get two new Leitner-Poma quad chairs this summer with more new lifts on the way, the resort announced today. This summer’s $9 million slate of improvements includes a high speed quad replacement for the Cindy Pop chair, a new quad serving seven new trails, an expanded base lodge and snowmaking improvements.
Cascade Mountain became the first ski area in Wisconsin with a high-speed lift back in 1998 and has eight lifts including three quad chairs. The new Cindy Pop Express will be nearly twice as long as the 1991 Borvig quad chair it replaces and will move 2,400 skiers per hour. The new “Lift C” will be a fixed-grip quad east of the current ski area serving new terrain. Cascade owners Rob and Vicki Walz are excited to move forward with the expansion that’s been years in the making. “My dad always envisioned using the far east side of Cascade for an expansion and he started cutting trails many years ago. The time has come to reach the next level for Cascade. Our customers will appreciate the new intermediate trails which are longer than what we have on the west side,” commented Rob Walz in the announcement on the resort’s website.
Work has already begun in preparation for the new lifts. Cascade has plans for two additional chairlifts to be added in upcoming years which would bring the ski area up to 11 lifts and 55 trails. Congratulations to everyone at Cascade Mountain and Leitner-Poma on this exciting news!
Timberline Lodge & Ski Area is perhaps America’s most unique snowsports destination with year-round skiing on one of the Lower 48’s largest volcanoes. Operated for the last fifty years by RLK & Company on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service, Timberline offers lift-served skiing twelve months a year on 1,400 acres of Mt. Hood. Two million people visit the Lodge and ski area annually which are under 60 miles from Portland, the tenth fastest-growing city in America. Timberline’s ski operation expanded in 2007 to accommodate growing numbers of visitors by adding the Jeff Flood Express in Still Creek Basin. The ski area now has seven lifts with a vertical rise of 3,690 feet, the largest in the Pacific Northwest.
Timberline is also unique in that much of its terrain lies below the Lodge and access road. Visitors drive halfway up the mountain just to leave their car and ski below. Although the mountain offers more alternative transportation options than ever, Timberline’s two-lane access road and relatively small parking lots remain woefully inadequate. Building more parking at 6,000 feet within a National Historic Landmark is not consistent with RLK’s sustainability goals nor those of the Oregon Department of Transportation and U.S. Forest Service to minimize development around the historic lodge.