Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Shuttleberg (@shuttleberg) on
Replacing a fixed-grip quad with another fixed-grip quad might not seem like much of a change, but Mt. Baker took a significant step forward this summer building an all-new Chair 7 with loads of upgrades. The only lift out of the White Salmon base area is now a Skytrac, the first for this Pacific Northwest favorite with seven fixed-grip quads.
The Riblet Chair 7 opened in 1990 to serve an eastward expansion along with Chair 8 in 1992. The last of Baker’s seven Riblets went in for the 2001-02, the second to last Riblet lift built anywhere in the world. Beginning the following year, a series of four Doppelmayr CTEC quad chairs replaced lifts 1, 3, 5 and 6. All of these lifts were powered directly with diesel engines.
Many resorts are adding bigger chairlifts this season but Mt. Hood Meadows’ new beginner lift is notable for a couple reasons. The quad follows an all-new route from the double it replaces, opening up more teaching terrain in the base area. Second, it appears to feature Skytrac’s first height-adjustable terminal at its return station. The drive and tensioning systems will now be located at the top. The new Buttecup is 30 percent longer than the Yan version and will move 70 percent more people. It will also spin 30 percent faster thanks to a loading carpet, which is also height adjustable.
When I stopped by Meadows this weekend, Mt. Hood had received nearly six inches of rain on top of early snow in classic Pacific Northwest fashion. Timberline is already open for the season while lift construction continues next door. Concrete work for the new lift is almost finished and the weather looks much better this week as Meadows prepares for its 50th season.
A big new six-pack is coming together on the front face of Bear Valley, site of the only new lift in Northern California for 2017-18. What’s code-named the Love Six replaces a 1967 Riblet double chair named Bear, which ran alongside a Lift Engineering triple. Kuma will stay for now but is unlikely to see much action as a shiny six-pack steals the show next door. As of this weekend, Leitner-Poma is almost finished with concrete foundations and in the process of assembling 11 new towers (the old lift had 18!) Terminal sections are being delivered nameless as Bear Valley weighs a more creative title than Bear Express.
Bear Valley’s first detachable was an LPOA Omega-model built in 2006 on the back side of the mountain. Owner Skyline Development partnered last year with Leitner-Poma to build a similar six-pack at the company’s Horseshoe Resort. This year’s project is one of seven new six-packs that will debut across the U.S. this winter, tied with 2000-01 for the most ever. The new lift slashes the time to ride time up the heart of the mountain in half to just over three minutes and looks to feature 90-degree loading. “This lift investment is a game changer for Bear Valley that will greatly enhance our guests’ experience,” said Andrea Young, general manager at Bear Valley when the new lift was announced in April. “It 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.”
Back in April, Snow Valley made a big bet, investing millions to build Southern California’s first six-pack. For a resort with a dozen Yan fixed-grips built in the 1970s and ’80s, the new Snow Valley Express is a big deal. In the months since the announcement, new owners have coincidentally taken over SoCal competitors Bear Mountain, Snow Summit and Mountain High, hinting at further capital improvements in a market which hasn’t seen a new chairlift since 1999. Just down the road from two new KSL/Aspen resorts, Snow Valley prides itself on family ownership and is committed to improving the ski experience for its 80th season.
The turnkey Leitner-Poma six-pack project replaces Chair 1, a double serving the mountain’s front side. LPOA is very busy this fall with six new LPA detchables going up across the West and Midwest, the most since the new product debuted in 2010. Snow Valley’s towers have arrived from Grand Junction and crews were finishing up concrete work at the top terminal today. The bottom return terminal showed up last week, joining the seven strand Redaelli haul rope from Italy. The drive terminal, line equipment and chairs will follow soon.