Leitner-Poma to Build New Supreme Lift at Alta in Return to Utah

Sixty-seven, five, zero.  Those are the numbers of lifts built in the state of Utah by Doppelmayr, Skytrac and Leitner-Poma since 1998, respectively.  Nevertheless, a Leitner-Poma high-speed quad will replace both the Cecret and Supreme chairlifts at Alta this summer, further modernizing the famed Wasatch ski area’s lift fleet.

The Supreme alignment was modified from the initial proposal (in yellow) to avoid wetlands while still utilizing 3,250′ of the existing lift line.

Like the Collins lift, the new Supreme will feature an angle change and rise from Alf’s Restaurant to near 10,600-foot Point Supreme.  “Detachable technology gives us greater control over skiers delivered per hour, while at the same time giving our skiers a shorter ride time,” notes Alta GM Onno Wieringa.  Unlike Collins, the lift will turn 8.4 degrees using canted tower sheaves instead of an angle station.  In place of the Garaventa CTEC Stealths and Doppelmayr Uni-Gs so ubiquitous in the Wasatch, Supreme will sport Leitner-Poma LPA terminals manufactured in Grand Junction.

Fans of Supreme’s light side flyovers and half towers will have to get their fix at Wildcat after this winter.

The news is huge for Utah, the third largest lift market in America but one nearly devoid of competition since the 2002 merger of Doppelmayr and CTEC.  Of 138 operating lifts in the Beehive State, Doppelmayr or companies it acquired built 98 of them. Second for market share in Utah with 27 operating lifts still belongs to Lift Engineering, out of business since 1996.  Salt Lake-based Skytrac arrived on scene in 2011, installing a handful of lifts at PowMow, Sundance and Beaver Mountain, but never joined the detachable lift game before being acquired by Leitner-Poma last spring.  Poma last built lifts in Utah at The Canyons in 1997, apparently because neither Doppelmayr nor Garaventa CTEC could fulfill American Skiing Company’s massive order for eight new lifts that year.  The Cottonwood Canyons are chock full of Doppelmayr and CTEC lifts and only four Pomas remain in the entire state, until next fall.

Cecret is a center-pole Yan double with height-adjustable terminals.

The new Supreme will be 5,030 feet long with approximately 22 towers.  Cecret, a 1981 Yan double and Supreme, a 1992 Yan triple originally located at Sugarloaf, will both be retired but may find homes elsewhere as desirable used lifts.  Leitner-Poma and Skytrac’s combined project count now stands at 13 with Doppelmayr at 14.  As LPOA President Rick Spear told Companyweek a few weeks ago, “We both fight for every project.”

The rest of Alta Ski Area’s master plan remains under review by the United States Forest Service, including a Sunnyside combination lift, Flora chairlift to Germania Ridge, Baldy aerial tram and a high-speed replacement for Wildcat.  In the meantime, congratulations to Alta and Leitner-Poma on commencing this big first phase.  Construction will begin April 17th, the day after Alta closes for the season.

Update 4/3/17: I’ve learned the angle station that was initially planned for beginner offloading was eliminated and the 8.4 degree angle change will instead be accomplished over numerous towers.  I’ve updated the post above to reflect this change.  For more on these types of turns, see this post.

24 thoughts on “Leitner-Poma to Build New Supreme Lift at Alta in Return to Utah

  1. skidv25 April 2, 2017 / 9:35 pm

    I was shocked when I read this tonight. I thought that this one would definitely go Dopp. Regardless, still looking forward to following along with this project!


  2. Peter Landsman April 2, 2017 / 9:42 pm

    After today’s news Belleayre, Burke Mountain, Giants Ridge, New York State Fair and Wolf Creek are the only remaining TBDs on my map. If anyone finds out which way those go feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.


    • CVS April 2, 2017 / 10:44 pm

      I believe that Gents Ridge is going to be a combined LPOA/SkyTrac project, with LPOA providing the detach and Skytrac the fixedgrip lift.


      • Peter Landsman April 3, 2017 / 10:30 am

        Just like Taos. Whitewater may be the only Alpha built this year. Will be interesting to see if the Skytrac models go to Canada at some point with Leitner-Poma’s strong presence there.


    • Jeff Lynne April 2, 2017 / 11:47 pm

      No new lift at 49 degress north I take it?


      • Peter Landsman April 3, 2017 / 8:15 am

        They have plans for a Nelson Creek quad below Sunrise Basin and a base-to-summit detachable called Klondike Express but I’ve seen no indication either will happen this year. There’s still time though.


      • Dhowe April 3, 2017 / 6:32 pm

        Sorely needed. Great mountain but the lifts look unsafe


  3. Cameron Halmrast April 2, 2017 / 10:15 pm

    I’m kind of confused by this lift line alignment. If the top of Supreme is too windy for lift operations, then the entire Cecret area is too. I guess that’s one of the pros of having two haul rope systems, like Blackcomb’s gondola. I personally would leave the Cecret chairlift in place for situations like this.


    • Peter Landsman April 2, 2017 / 10:21 pm

      We ran into this at Sweetwater on Friday. Wind up top kept us closed all day but the lower section could have run if it was independent. At least we have Teewinot.


  4. CVS April 2, 2017 / 10:52 pm

    I am surprised that no new lifts seem to be happening in north and central cali with the season they have had.


    • Peter Landsman April 3, 2017 / 10:56 am

      China Peak bought Elkhead from Steamboat so that’s a possibility. Squaw has approval to replace Granite Chief with a high-speed quad and/or Red Dog with a HSS. Someone on Skilifts.org posted that Mammoth was considering some big upgrades.


      • trj820 April 3, 2017 / 1:32 pm

        I really hope that Mammoth gets a new lift. An upgrade to 12 or 14 would be appreciated, because we haven’t had anything since they replaced 5 in 2011-12.


      • ALEX April 3, 2017 / 8:53 pm

        There is some debate on if the Granite Chief and Red Dog pemits have expired or not. Also Squaw/Alpine did have a permit to replace Hot Wheels with and extension to the top of Sherwood.

        On another topic, one of the local blogs (link below) recently opined that the Gondola routing could be changing as well as the possibility that Vail Resorts may have interest in Squaw Alpine.



  5. Chip April 3, 2017 / 10:18 am

    I’m quite sure Supreme did not come from Sugarloaf. They have only ever had one triple (Snubber, a late-80s Borvig) and it’s still there.


    • Peter Landsman April 3, 2017 / 10:23 am

      It was the Sugarloaf lift just across the way at Alta, not from Sugarloaf, Maine. I could have written that better.


  6. Peter Landsman April 3, 2017 / 6:49 pm

    Turns out the angle station that was initially planned for beginner offloading has been eliminated and the 8.4 degree angle change will instead be accomplished over numerous towers. I’ve updated the post above to reflect this change.


  7. James April 12, 2017 / 10:49 pm

    I am trying to remain openminded and optimistic that this is a good decision, but it just makes no sense to me. Why would we be forced to ski all the way to Alf’s/Sugarloaf? Why not just make Supreme a quad from the preexisting towers, and leave Cecret untouched (or vice-versa)? The people who ride Cecret are only the most basic beginners, and most of the terrain is so flat that you can’t even lean into a turn, and if the snow is sticky you are pushing/skating through the bottom half. What is the advantage of being forced to ski the flat part that is Cecret? More people stopping and buying food at Alf’s?
    I honestly would like to hear other opinions for good reasons they would combine these lifts (not to mention the major lift company (supposedly) deciding not to bid because of the problems that might be associated with the 9 degree angle). The only reason I have heard is because “90% of new skiers learn on quads”. smh.
    Please comment. :)


    • RMurphy April 12, 2017 / 11:57 pm

      I grew up at Alta and my guess is Supreme Access. The only ways into the old alignment were Cecret or Supreme Access, so most people chose the latter. The flat is really long and uphill for a section, so most locals come screaming off Devils into it, creating a lot of cross traffic problems. So few people used Cecret that they probably have just given up on beginner terrain outside the base area. Lastly, Supreme already required a decent skate so it being lower isn’t much of a problem, even on late April days I never found it that bad to carry speed through that section.

      My $0.02 though, I’m sure there is a contingent of locals not happy at all about for various reasons.


  8. Mike April 15, 2017 / 7:14 am

    All good points but eliminating the employees associated with Cecret (underutilized) is a big money saver. Add in the cost savings of maintenance on Cecret and then not having to maintain the Supreme Access trail adds up. The time to travel the extra distance from the current Supreme loading point to the current Cecret location is 38 seconds at a very modest speed. I hate that also but being rewarded with a high speed quad instead of a conventional triple will get you back to the top faster. All the surveyors stakes are in place and it is close enough to Alf’s that it is a short hike to the new loading point.

    Alta plans call for replacement of Sunnyside with a “combination lift”, anyone know what that is?


  9. Ken Ringsen June 25, 2017 / 10:53 pm

    Cecret had a number of negatives which resulted in very low utilization, there was never a line and many empty chairs. It was a slow lift that serviced beginner terrain and provided access to the Supreme Lift (blue/black). It wasn’t great at either of these functions. Many beginners were intimidated by the old-school open chairs with no safety bar and chose to remain on the Sunnyside lift in spite of the usual line there. Cecret chairs were also a center pole design, with a pole going straight down into the middle of the seat between the two riders. This made it very difficult for an experienced adult skier to accompany a beginner child and insure the child got on the lift OK. The pole was directly in the way of that and the child was largely on their own. Again, steering riders to Sunnyside. Intermediate & expert skiers could take Cecret to the Supreme Lift but it was slow. Most skiers opted to take the faster Sugarloaf lift and take the Supreme Access trail to get to Supreme. Supreme Access is (was?) flat with a short uphill section but that could be easily overcome by entering the trail at maximum possible speed (and a short skate if your wax isn’t up to par). It could be debated if Cecret or Sugarloaf was a faster route to Supreme but Sugarloaf was certainly more fun and most chose that route. So although many may have liked Cecret, the reality was Cecret wasn’t great at either of its purposes. One thing I don’t see mentioned in this article or comments is that the redesigned route of the new chair was all about environmental concerns. Cecret (and the original replacement design which followed Cecret’s route) required a tower in Albion Fen, the largest wetland area in Albion Basin. You’d never notice it in the winter but it’s quite apparent in the summer. The redesign was all about avoiding Albion Fen and removing the Cecret tower that sat in it. This is National Forest land and a watershed for SLC. (Yes, SLC drinks what you ski on. Don’t make yellow snow.) Environmental concerns are a priority at Alta and that’s why the lift route was redesigned. It had nothing to do with skiing or skier convenience.


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