Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort faced a challenge last fall. How could it find enough time to replace an aging lift that brings skiers to the mountain’s summit but also provides access to a hugely popular zip tour? With ski resorts increasingly becoming hubs for summer recreation, this is becoming a more frequent problem. Building a lift typically takes at least four months although there are exceptions. In 2015, Snow King Mountain replaced the heavily-used in both summer and winter Rafferty lift with a Doppelmayr quad in record time – under three months – between closing day of ski season and Independence Day weekend. This fall, Doppelmayr is making a similar push at Sundance to complete the new Arrowhead Quad.
Sundance’s other triple chair, Flathead, is actually ten years older than Arrowhead, which begs the question of why the latter will be modernized first. Built by Lift Engineering in 1985, the old Arrowhead could only download 240 guests per hour which no longer worked for summer operations. Furthermore, Yan used aluminum sheaves (with hubcaps!) on many of its later-model lifts which became prone to cracking. You’ll notice many Yan lifts of Arrowhead’s vintage sport upgraded line gear from Doppelmayr or Poma. Rather than upgrading piecemeal, Sundance announced last December it would replace the entire lift with a brand new quad chair. “With the amount of use Arrowhead Lift sees year-round, this upgrade is exciting to the skiing, snowboarding, ZipTour and summer programs that our guests love so much at Sundance,” director of mountain operations Czar Johnson said in a release announcing the project.
The triple chair hauled its last mountain bikers and zip liners on Labor Day and removal began the following morning, September 6th. Doppelmayr salvaged 11 tower tubes, excepting Mr. Kunczynski’s wacky offset ones shown below. Barely a month since the old Arrowhead closed, footers for both terminals and all five new towers are complete. Steel plates compatible with Doppelmayr crossarms were welded onto the tops of the remaining towers. The new tubes are painted green to match the old rather than being galvanized like most new towers.
The new Alpinstar-model quad chair will haul up to 2,300 skiers per hour uphill and 475 downhill, significant increases on both fronts. I will miss the old Arrowhead’s quirks including real seat belts and 8-rocker catwalks, although the seat belts were replaced a few years ago with restraining bars. Arrowhead will join two other fixed-grip quads at Sundance – the up and over Ray’s Lift and Jake’s, built by Skytrac in 2012. Arrowhead is scheduled to open December 9th, just 95 days after construction began.