Jay Peak Nears Tram Reopening with Upgrades Planned for 2017

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Jay Peak Resort broke the silence today on its tram issues following a federal takeover in April and an order from the State of Vermont in May prohibiting operation without major upgrades to the 50-year old tram.  Since those events and now under control of a receiver, the resort worked with the State Tramway Division on a plan to re-open the tram early this summer and schedule major upgrades for next spring, which is great news for employees and skiers.  Jay Peak personnel, together with a tramway specialist from Doppelmayr/Garaventa and state inspectors, completed a load test and inspection of the tram this week.  They found a crack in a component of one carriage that will be replaced next week before the tram reopens.  $5 million worth of upgrades to the lift’s tower saddles, carriages, hangers, brakes and safety systems will take place after the ski area closes next Spring.  See Jay Peak’s full statement below.

June 16, 2016 (Jay, VT)- Jay Peak Resort recently completed a three-day inspection of its aerial tram. The resort, in cooperation with the state, flew in an aerial tramway specialist and worked with state inspectors to examine the tram and its operating systems. Inspectors conducted a successful load test designed to ensure that all of the conveyance’s electrical, hauling and braking systems can function normally under strenuous conditions. After passing the load test, resort personnel successfully completed and passed an evacuation drill. The team also inspected the tram’s towers and its bolting structures. All were found to be operating normally.

Inspectors did find on the last day of the inspection a hairline crack to one of the components of one of the tram carriages. That part will be removed and replaced next week. After that work is complete, state officials will return for a final review.

“We’re happy the inspection process has gone so smoothly,” remarked Steve Wright, Jay Peak’s General Manager. “The resort has a long history of cooperation with the state’s lift inspectors and it’s their rigor and responsiveness that has allowed this process to move so efficiently.”

The resort recently signed a $5 million contract with the Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group to conduct custom upgrades to the tram, but that work isn’t scheduled to begin until the spring of 2017 and is not required for operations this summer or for the coming winter.

Wright said Doppelmayr/Garaventa will begin work on the enhancements shortly as the improvements are all customized and will take approximately 12 months to complete. Installation of the upgrades will begin in the spring of 2017.

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News Roundup: Six-Packs

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Into the air at Caberfae Peaks, Michigan. Thanks to Lawrence W. for the photo.

Instagram Tuesday: Inspiring Places

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Soelden Announces Record-Breaking Giggijochbahn

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Soelden, Austria unveiled its record-breaking gondola today called Giggijochbahn, to open next winter with the ability to carry 4,500 passengers per hour. The ropeway will feature Doppelmayr’s next-generation D-Line components and two modern terminal buildings, one featuring panoramic images of the Alps and the other showing off ropeway technology behind real glass.  The top terminal will have parking for most of the lift’s 134 CWA Omega IV-10-D cabins.  Innsbruck architect Johann Obermoser designed the stations in collaboration with Soelden and Doppelmayr.

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This will be an impressive system by any measure with 3,022 feet of vertical rise and an 8,688-foot slope length.  Travelling at the record-breaking speed of 6.5 m/s (1,280 fpm) the ride will take just 8.87 minutes.  The fastest monocable gondolas in the world currently top out at 1,212 fpm.  The Giggijochbahn will have 26 towers and a 62 mm haul rope driven by a ~2,180 HP electric motor.  The biggest innovation will be the capacity – reaching 4,500 passengers per hour, per direction.  I believe 3,600 is the current capacity record for a monocable gondola, a record shared between many lifts including the 10-passenger Gondola One at Vail and the 15-passenger Village Gondola at Mammoth.

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Steamboat Plans More Lifts

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Steamboat is the fourth largest ski resort in Colorado with 19 lifts and almost 3,000 acres of terrain on 10,568 foot Mt. Werner.  In 2011, Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation commissioned Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners to perform a detailed mountain analysis and update the resort’s master plan.  The Routt National Forest approved the plan in 2013, which envisions seven new lifts installed over the next ten years to better serve skiers.  Included are a mid-mountain learning center served by a second gondola, a new lift on Sunshine Peak and replacement of four lifts with upgraded equipment.  The first of the upgrade projects already underway, replacing the Elkhead triple (a 1984 Yan) with a Doppelmayr detachable quad.  Initially proposed as a six-pack, Steamboat opted to build a 4-place detachable instead.  The new Elkhead will be the first Doppelmayr lift built here since 1997 following four new Leitner-Poma lifts built at Steamboat in the 2000s.

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Plan overview from Ecosign.  The new lift and trails on Pioneer Ridge shown in blue were not approved in 2013 but are within Steamboat’s existing permit boundary, were approved in 1996 and remain in the resort’s long term plans.
By far the largest component of the 2011 plan is the Rough Rider Learning Center in Bashor Bowl served by a new 8-passenger gondola.  The Bashor Gondola will rise from the base of the Silver Bullet Gondola to the northeast, crossing Christie Peak Express and Christie III.  The top terminal will house an 8,000 square foot skier-services building. Unfortunately for the gondola’s future mechanics, 3,500 square feet of that space for gondola cabin storage and maintenance will be a lunch room for 300 kids during the day.  At night, the gondola will service the lodge and a new tube park near the top terminal.  It will also spin all summer alongside the Silver Bullet.

Two fixed-grip chairlifts dubbed Rough Rider and Swinger (no way that name sticks) will service teaching terrain in Bashor Bowl along with 2-3 new magic carpets.  The 1989 Rough Rider platter nearby will be removed.  A third new chairlift will replace the Bashor lift in the same vicinity but in a new alignment ending 500′ higher.  Bashor is the second oldest lift at Steamboat, a Lift Engineering double dating back to 1972.

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News Roundup: Vail Effect

Instagram Tuesday: Springtime

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Sweetwater Gondola June Update

Construction on Jackson Hole’s second gondola is ramping up as the last of the snow melts.  The new Sweetwater Gondola will run from the base of the Teewinot high speed quad to the Casper Restaurant with a mid-station unload, boosting out-of-base capacity and providing an improved experience for beginner skiers.  As the photos below show, the project is off to a solid start with awesome weather in the last few weeks after a very wet spring.

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Tower and terminal components have begun arriving in Teton Village.
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The mid-station will be located about dead center of this photo.  The old Sweetwater lift is headed to Pine Creek Ski Area near Cokeville, Wyoming.
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The Doppelmayr crew used a spider excavator to dig holes for many of the 21 new towers.

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State of Vermont Orders Jay Peak Tram Closed

The State of Vermont Passenger Tramway Division sent a letter Tuesday to Jay Peak Resort, ordering its aerial tramway shut down until significant upgrades are completed.  Jay Peak agreed last fall to make critical repairs to the tram with more upgrades to be completed this spring by Doppelmayr/Garaventa.  The State says Jay Peak has not completed these upgrades in advance of the summer season, hence the formal Order for Corrective Action sent this week.  The Jay Peak Aerial Tramway was built by VonRoll in 1966 and received new 60-passenger cabins in 2000.

On April 14, the Securities and Exchange Commission seized control of the resort from its owners, alleging a $200 million fraud scheme.  Florida attorney Michael Goldberg was placed in charge by a federal court and tasked with sorting out Jay Peak’s finances so the resort can be sold.  Jay reportedly lost $6.2 million last winter and Mr. Goldberg is looking for cost savings.  When asked about the upgrades needed to the tram a few weeks ago, Goldberg told the Burlington Free Press, “It kind of sucks that has to happen now.”  He also questioned Doppelmayr’s assessment of the tram, stating at a press conference, “we’re not even sure we have to fix the tram.  The company that tells us we have to fix it is also the one that will get the contract.”

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News Roundup: Into the Mountain

  • Doppelmayr’s latest Wir Magazine has lots on D-Line.
  • Vail Resorts looks far and wide for its next acquisition with eyes towards Canada and Japan.
  • Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows enters strategic alliance with Genting Secret Garden, one of China’s newest ski resorts with a 6/8 chondola and two bubble high speed quads.
  • Great Divide, Montana is buying a new drive terminal for its Good Luck double.
  • Jay Peak receiver calls the resort’s financial situation “dire” as he reveals the resort lost $6.2 million last winter and looks for cost savings.
  • Queenstown’s Skyline Gondola will be replaced with a $60 million 10-passemger version in 2018.  The current 4-place Doppelmayr  gondola debuted in 1987.
  • The game-changing Leitner 3S gondola to the Stubai Glacier will open July 9th.