Every Spring, Doppelmayr publishes a sweet book with pictures of and technical info for every installation the company completed worldwide in the prior year. Often called the Worldbook, this year’s edition features 106 projects on 189 fascinating pages with particular emphasis on the company’s next-generation platform called D-Line. Among the achievements realized by Doppelmayr and Garaventa in 2016:
Construction of eight new D-Line lifts including the first with direct drive and the first with chairs instead of gondolas.
A Garaventa tramway with the world’s largest cabins and the planet’s tallest lift towers across Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.
One of the steepest aerial tramways ever built alongside a Norwegian fjord.
The Giggijochbahn – a gondola with never-before-accomplished throughput of 4,500 skiers per hour at 6.5 m/s.
The five-station first line of Mi Teleférico phase two in La Paz, Bolivia.
The world’s only fully air-conditioned gondola system at the new Wynn Palace in Macau, a system which also makes five turns.
A five-passenger detachable chairlift in South Korea serving tobogganers instead of skiers.
The first ProTow, an innovative surface lift for mountain bike parks.
If you don’t happen to get the book in the mail as a Doppelmayr customer, luckily the company now publishes an online version of the Worldwide book for all to enjoy. The pictures alone are worth your time.
Following a winter with three times normal snowfall, California now has its second major lift project for the coming construction season. Bear Valley in the Stanislaus National Forest plans to construct a six-passenger detachable in place of the Bear chair from the day lodge at mid-mountain to the 8,500′ summit. The Leitner-Poma installation will closely match one built last year at Skyline Investments’ other mountain in Canada, Horseshoe Resort. Leitner-Poma also supplied Bear Valley’s first detachable, the Polar Express quad, in 2006.
Bear is a 1967 Riblet double running parallel to a Yan triple called Kuma, built in 1981, that combine to serve the heart of the mountain. Kuma will remain for now. The 11-tower, 58-chair six-pack will rise approximately 750 vertical feet in just over three minutes. “This lift investment is a game changer for Bear Valley that will greatly enhance our guests’ experience during the winter operations, and with the new high speed lift being 100% downloadable it aligns well with our heightened focus on summer recreation and activities on the mountain,” said Andrea Young, general manager at Bear Valley. “This is a continuation of the many improvements that Skyline Investments is making at Bear Valley on the heels of two strong winters which will elevate the guest experience and further establish the area as a year-round Sierra family destination.” Bear Valley plans to build two additional lifts on the backside of the mountain in the coming years, directly connecting the Bear Valley Village to the ski area for the first time.
Bear Valley’s sixer is the seventh to be announced this year. With only five high-speed quads scheduled in the United States and Canada, more-six packs than detachable quads may go in for the first time ever this year. In 2010, the ratio of quads to six-packs was 9:1, in 2013 it reached 3:1 and last year hit 1:1. Six-place lifts can be built with any capacity that quads can, allow families to ride together and can offer greater wind resistance. The new one at Bear Valley is sure to be a hit over the 50-year old center pole double it replaces.
Revelstoke homeowners aren’t happy lift development has stalled for almost ten years now. The resort’s response identifies master plan lifts 1 and 11 as the highest priorities but notes construction of them is subject to market demand.
In an interview, new Crystal Mountain owner John Kircher says he wants to build a second gondola to Campbell Basin.
NY State Fair gondola continues to be targeted as an example of government waste.
Whaleback’s T-Bar project is a go. The lift came from Plattekill, NY and will be installed by SkyTrans.
Poma reaches agreement to build new gondolas in Vietnam with the first next-generation Sigma Diamond EVO cabins introduced yesterday at Interalpin. The new cabins offer more natural light and feature doors that slide rather than opening out.
It’s been two weeks since the bombshellnews that Aspen Skiing Co. and KSL Capital Partners are joining forces to bring twelve ski resorts under a new entity rivaling Vail Resorts. While the deals won’t close for months, the new partners already say they plan to invest heavily in the guest experience. “We have earmarked a lot of capital for improvements to be able to continue to reinvest significantly in the communities and the mountains,” KSL CEO Eric Resnick told the Denver Post. “What’s exciting is being able to bring new opportunities with these communities and with these mountains to those customers who are already so passionate.” This could come in the form of new lifts ahead of the 2018-19 season and beyond. Below is a summary of announced plans and my speculation of what might be in store for KSL and Aspen’s upcoming resorts.
Alpine Meadows, CA:
Alpine Meadows applied for and received approval to replace the Hot Wheels chairlift in a new, longer alignment back in 2012. A mid-station offload would allow beginner and intermediate skiers to access the lower mountain while others could continue to an unload near the top of Sherwood, providing direct access to Sherwood and Lakeview. Approval for this lift likely expired in September 2015 but there’s no reason to believe Placer County would not approve it again.
Speaking of Lakeview, it is arguably the largest remaining pod at Alpine Meadows without detachable access. This 1984 CTEC is older than Sherwood and with approximately the same vertical rise. A high-speed quad is likely to replace it eventually.
Doppelmayr and CTEC have both built lifts at Alpine Meadows while Leitner-Poma has not. That could change with the unification of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.
I’ve written before about the Base-to-Base Gondola which is still on the table but still requires multiple government approvals. It would traverse the White Wolf property between Squaw and Alpine with two angle stations along the way.
In the span of just three days, Vail Resorts has gained a challenger that spans North America. Today the new team of Aspen Skiing Company and KSL Capital Partners announced an agreement to acquire Mammoth Resorts from an ownership group led by Starwood Capital. Mammoth Mountain, Bear Mountain, June Mountain and Snow Summit will join the Intrawest resorts and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows brought under one roof on Monday. “This new platform, built around a collective passion for the mountains and our commitment to the people who visit, work and live there, is exactly what the ski resort business needs,” said Rusty Gregory, the longtime manager and chief executive of Mammoth Resorts. He called the move “the next logical chapter in the story of Mammoth.”
Aspen Skiing Company will continue to independently own Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass but it will likely cozy up to its partner resorts. With Aspen included, the new company will operate 207 lifts at 16 mountains compared with Vail Resorts’ 261 lifts at 14 mountains. Like Monday’s deal, the Mammoth acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter. What a week, and it’s only Wednesday.