Taos to Build New Beginner Lift, Pulse Gondola & First Detachable

In 2008, a 53-year old Taos Ski Valley welcomed snowboarders for the first time in a move that once seemed unthinkable.  Then a game-changing new lift up 12,481’ Kachina Peak debuted in 2015, serving terrain accessible only by hiking for six prior decades.  This season, the renaissance continued with the opening of the slopeside Blake Hotel and announcement that Taos would be the first ski resort in the world to become a B Corporation, joining the likes of Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s.  Now we learn Taos will launch a re-imagined beginner facility with two new lifts next season and will finally join 167 of its North American counterparts with the opening of its first detachable quad in 2018.  Talk about a transformation.

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Three new lifts will rise out of the resort center over the next two years, benefiting every Taos guest.

This off-season will see complete renewal of the beginner complex with the removal of two lifts and the addition of two new ones.  Stadeli doubles Rueggli (1991, the old lift 2) and Strawberry Hill (1970) will be retired and the area around them re-contoured.  A new Skytrac fixed-grip triple will better serve beginners and a six-passenger pulse gondola will link a remodeled children’s ski school to the Resort Center.  “This gondola is going to be a huge improvement, connecting our newly designed Children’s Center with our new hotel and plaza base area,” Director of Operations John Kelly told me.  “The terrain associated with these new lifts will be getting a full redesign and regrade to widen and enhance our beginner terrain.”  The new lifts are in addition to the Pioneer lift, a triple chair that arrived from Deer Valley in 2012.

Rising to mid-mountain, a Leitner-Poma high-speed quad will replace lifts 1 and 5 in 2018.  The 2010 Taos Master Plan envisioned a 7000′ detachable rising all the way to the summit and replacing Lift 6 as well, but that plan appears to have been modified.  The long-awaited foray into detachable lifts follows construction of five new Poma and Skytrac fixed-grips at Taos since 1989.  What may be called Al’s Express will most likely reach the summit of the existing lift 5, a 1973 Stadeli double chair that only operates on peak mornings.  The new lift will also replace Lift 1, a 1989 Poma Alpha quad that ends 400 feet lower than 5 and serves as today’s primary out-of-base lift. After 2018, the remaining largest ski resorts in North America without a detachable lift will be Red Mountain, 49 Degrees North, Loveland and Bridger Bowl.

This will be the first joint project since Skytrac joined the Leitner-Poma Group last spring and plays to both companies’ strengths.  Skytrac will supply the fixed-grip chair while Leitner-Poma will bring its expertise to build the gondola and detachable.

Even after these changes, Taos will retain three classic Stadeli lifts on the upper mountain.  Lift 6 dates back to 1976 and 7A was installed in 1990 with used parts from 1 and 2.  Maxi’s (lift 7) is a 1984 Stadeli triple.  Both lifts 4 and 7 are identified for eventual replacement in the 2010 Taos Master Plan along with a second lift to the ridge.  I think Taos skiers (and snowboarders) will find the new lifts a welcome change with friendlier beginner options and a 4.5 minute ride to the heart of the mountain. Welcome to the 21st century, Taos!

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7 thoughts on “Taos to Build New Beginner Lift, Pulse Gondola & First Detachable

  1. Cameron Halmrast March 20, 2017 / 3:42 pm

    It seems interesting that Toas wouldn’t recycle the existing POMA fixed grip quad unless it has additional plans for it at a later date somewhere else on the mountain.

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  2. Jonathan Pierce March 20, 2017 / 8:19 pm

    I agree with that as well. I visited Taos last weekend, and it did not seem to have a capacity issue. The only thing I would do is replace the chairs on that lift.

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  3. Garrett March 21, 2017 / 2:52 pm

    The beginner area contouring and lift replacement will be awesome additions and improve base area cohesion and efficiency. The high speed quad will also improve base area to mid-mountain capacity but negates the constant issue/complaint of having to ride multiple lifts to get anywhere on the mountain at Taos. The original 7000′ plan from 2010 should be reconsidered. If storm day snow safety is the [valid] rationale, then keep the existing quad for those days and use the lift line from the existing double (lift 5) for the new detachable quad to run all the way up Al’s, Bambi, and unload near the ski patrol shack. One lift to rule it all!

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    • Mike March 21, 2017 / 4:44 pm

      Most mountains don’t have a single base to summit lift, so I don’t know if that’s really an important issue. Have to imagine that the next step will be to replace 2 and 6 with a single HSQ that will effectively cut the time required to get form base to front side summit in half vs. today. That’s a big win as is, even if it would be more ideal to have a single lift ride that can get you to the backside from the base.

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      • Peter Landsman March 21, 2017 / 7:56 pm

        Having never skied Taos, could a single high speed quad replace 2, 6 and 8? They all run roughly parallel. The current master plan only approves 4 becoming a high speed quad and 7 a fixed-grip quad. If detachable mid-stations weren’t so darn expensive, Taos could have just a handful of main lifts!

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  4. Boardski April 1, 2017 / 6:58 pm

    I definitely thought high speed lift access was much needed at Taos when I visited a few years ago. It is unfortunate to hear that the high speed lift replacing 1 and 5 is not planned to go to the top of 6. The days I visited, lines were overflowing the ropes at lifts 1 and 2 and they still would not run 5 or 6. I also think this summit lift should be a six pack to be sure no capacity is lost. Looking at the master plan, I definitely agree with the plan to upgrade 4 but it seems like a detachable quad from the bottom of 4 to the top of 7a would be better than replacing 7 with a fixed grip quad. The old 4 and old 1 should be reinstalled to improve access to more of the upper Ridge terrain.

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  5. John Miller April 3, 2017 / 11:49 am

    So now on a powder day when they dont open the upper mountain, the bottom can get extra tracked out.

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