News Roundup: Outage

  • Aspen Mountain 1A stakeholders narrow replacement options to a few alignments with a two-stage lift or pulse gondola still in the mix.
  • Crystal Mountain, WA retires its hand-painted trail map for a computer-rendered VistaMap.
  • Antelope Butte, Wyoming inches closer to reopening with its two existing Riblet chairlifts.
  • Local paper tells the story of how Borvig’s owner came to own Berthoud Pass.
  • Breckenridge and Vail debut new Leitner-Poma six-place lifts.
  • A power outage closes Sugarloaf on the always-busy day after Christmas.
  • Two different New Hampshire ski areas remain closed due to problems with lifts.
  • LST detachable lift number one is still undergoing testing in France with opening now planned for January.
  • Bromley’s Sun Mountain Express is back in action today following Monday’s incident.  Ironically, it’s currently on wind hold.
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Wind Damages Lift, Leads to Christmas Evacuation at Bromley

None of the 115 skiers and snowboarders riding the Sun Mountain Express at Bromley Mountain, Vermont were injured yesterday despite a serious wind-related incident.  The Burlington Free Press reports a gust caused at least one empty chair to contact a communications line while the lift was moving.  “The cable snagged a grip on an empty chair, derailing it and causing the lift to stop,” the paper wrote.  It’s not clear from the article whether the snagged grip and chair remained on the haul rope.  Bromley’s Assistant General Manager Michael van Eyck commented to the media, “a super high 20 or 25 second burst of wind” led to the accident.  “The winds were not predicted to be that high,” he noted.  A rope evacuation was initiated following the deropement, which took two and a third hours to complete.

The Sun Mountain Express is a mile-long detachable quad featuring torsion grips built in 1997.  The Doppelmayr lift services the vast majority of Bromley’s terrain and remained closed the rest of Christmas Day and this morning.  The mountain’s snow report currently reads: “the Sun Mountain Express will be on a delayed opening schedule today, while it undergoes some maintenance. Stay tuned for updates on its projected opening time, but our lift crew is working hard and should have it up and running by this afternoon.”  Poor Bromley also lost its primary snowmaking pump house to fire just ten days ago.  The family-focused ski area is owned by the Fairbank Group, which also operates Jiminy Peak, Massachusetts and Cranmore, New Hampshire.

Worldbook
I haven’t taken pictures of the lifts at Bromley yet, but this is the Doppelmayr Worldbook entry for the Sun Mountain Express.

Instagram Tuesday: Bluebird

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

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News Roundup: Lost

  • Tussey Mountain thinks weakened spring packs caused last weekend’s lift incident and plans to reopen Saturday.
  • As many speculated it would, Vail is taking a wait and see approach to capital improvements at Stowe.
  • A lawsuit is filed against Granby Ranch one year after a fatal lift accident there.
  • Billionaire philanthropist Barry Diller considers gifting a $30 million gondola to the people of Los Angeles, which would travel over 2.2 miles of parkland from the city’s zoo to the Hollywood sign.
  • One Hall double at the defunct Big Tupper ski area will reopen next winter, with another needing extensive work before it can spin.
  • A report suggests Sunrise Park mechanic Reggie Antonio lost his life when the lift he was working on moved while he was in a work chair but still attached to a tower.
  • Proposed urban gondolas find friends and foes in San Diego.
  • LiftDigital safety bar screens go live on five chairs at Winter Park.
  • Garaventa completes the world’s steepest funicular railway in Switzerland.
  • New owner of Mt. Whittier, NH weighs the future of a lost ski area with a 1963 Mueller gondola that still stands adjacent to a McDonald’s drive through.

Instagram Tuesday: Night Shift

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

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Beaver Creek Eyes Two-Lift McCoy Park Expansion

Beaver Creek says it will seek Forest Service approval to build two new lifts, just as it debuts the resort’s 14th detachable lift in Red Buffalo Park.  Vail Resorts-owned Beaver Creek is unique in that much of its beginner and low intermediate terrain lies on the upper mountain, giving guests learning to ski and snowboard the high alpine experience many of us take for granted.  Just a few miles from its older, more famous cousin, Beaver Creek’s visitation has increased ten percent in just the last five years to well over a million skiers annually.  B.C. has grown to encompass 16 lifts despite opening in 1980, decades later than most American ski resorts.  Now the 16th largest resort, Beaver Creek’s success came largely through catering to families, a legacy which McCoy Park will build on.

mccoyparkbc

This expansion was previously mapped out on Beaver Creek’s 2010 master plan, though some details could change.  The Park is located near the top terminals of the Strawberry Park, Upper Beaver Creek Mountain and Larkspur Express lifts and currently features cross-country ski trails.  “McCoy Park is the ideal location for a protected family zone,” notes Beth Howard, vice president and COO of Beaver Creek Resort. “The views are spectacular, and the Park has an amazing natural feel that will be preserved. It is gentle terrain that will be separated from the rest of the mountain so that guests looking for a more relaxed, beginner and intermediate experience at a slower pace will enjoy it, and others won’t find themselves travelling through it on their way to another run or lift.”

Seventeen trails serviced by two lifts will encompass 250 acres left mostly in a natural state.  Three quarters of the trails will be green circles with the rest rated intermediate.  A McCoy Park Express quad will serve most of the new, gladed runs with a shorter, possibly fixed-grip lift providing egress.  The detachable lift will run approximately 4,746 feet with a vertical of 710′ and capacity of 2,400 skiers per hour.  The other lift will be just over 2,000 feet rising 300 feet and capable of moving around 1,200 guests per hour.

Road Trip 028
By the time McCoy Park opens, the Strawberry Park Express will be near the end of its useful life and could be replaced by a gondola, providing direct access to and from Beaver Creek Village.

As part of the expansion, the 23 year-old Strawberry Park Express will probably be upgraded to a gondola.  Strawberry Park already allows for downloading, but a gondola or chondola would better serve beginner folks and families.  The almost 7,000-foot new lift would carry approximately the same number of people as the 2,800 pph quad it replaces.  Vail Resorts plans to release additional details on the approval process and timeline for McCoy Park in the next few weeks.

Construction Rises Significantly to 51 Lifts in 2017

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The Doppelmayr-built Wildcat Express comes together at Snowbasin, one of seven new six-place chairlifts built throughout the western US this year.  More six-packs were added in 2017 than any other year except 2000.

With commissioning wrapping on eleven more lifts than last year at this time, 2017 represents an impressive ten-year high for North American lift building.  Six-passenger chairlifts, T-Bars and urban gondolas in Mexico and the Caribbean drove much of the growth in a year that saw continued changes in the manufacturer landscape.  Compared with 2016, more of this year’s chairlifts were expensive detachable models (12) compared with 17 fixed-grips (in 2016, the split was 7 detachable, 23 fixed.)  A total of nine new gondolas and three T-Bars went up in 2017, both increases from the year before.  Ten additional lifts were relocated and re-purposed, a three-year high with lifts originally built by Blue Mountain, CTEC, Doppelmayr, Riblet, Roebling, Stadeli and Yan finding new homes.  Combined, this year’s new lift class represents a solid 27 percent increase from 2016.

Consistent with last year, about two thirds of the projects in 2017 represented one-for-one replacements in existing alignments.  Interestingly, at least six resorts removed older lifts outright without replacing them.  At many mountains, the era of building and maintaining extra chairlifts that rarely run is over.

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Chairs Collide on Opening Day at Tussey Mountain

Multiple media outlets are reporting chairs full of skiers and snowboarders slid into each other near the top of Tussey Mountain, Pennsylvania today, the first day of the season for the area. It appears four grips slipped down the haul rope and were stopped by a fifth grip and chair.  All of the chairs were occupied but thankfully, injuries to five people are being described as non-life threatening.  Passengers on the entire lift were brought down by rope.  A spokesman for the mountain told CBS News that an operator manually stopped the lift, which is a 1982 Borvig center pole model and one of two Borvig chairlifts at the ski area near State College.

Borvig brand lifts have been involved in at least six recent incidents including a deropement causing serious injuries at Sugarloaf in December 2010, a rollback at the same mountain in 2015, a tower separation in West Virginia in February 2016 and a foundation grout failure at Sunday River later that year.  Also in 2016, two chairs slid into each other on a relocated Borvig double at Granite Gorge, New Hampshire, sending two people to the hospital.

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Bretton Woods Plans New Hampshire’s First 8-Passenger Gondola

2017 BW Alpine Trail Map Large
Routing of a new gondola planned for Bretton Woods will give riders excellent views of the famous Mt. Washington across the way.

Pending government approval, one of the closest ski resorts to Mt. Washington and its famous cog railway will open a 6,000-foot base-to-summit gondola in 2018.  Bretton Woods’ director of ski operations Chris Ellms appeared before a local planning board last night to unveil plans for the all-season lift and a new summit lodge.

The relatively low-capacity gondola will circulate 36 8-passenger cabins, making it the largest gondola in the state by cabin size.  Loon Mountain’s gondola seats only four.  Both the Bethlehem Express quad and Fayban’s Express triple chair will remain in place for winter skiers but the 1,300 vertical-foot gondola will spin other seasons as well.  Fayban’s top terminal will be moved downhill to make room for the gondola station and the new lift will cross over Bethlehem.  Ellms said the approximately five minute gondola ride will serve skiers, sightseers, hikers, diners and wedding parties.  “What we are proposing is it is not all about skiing, it is what the resort is about which is four seasons.”  Total project cost for the gondola and new restaurant is approximately $15 million and Bretton Woods’ owner, Omni Hotels & Resorts, hopes to open the new lift next ski season.  The mountain’s current fleet includes mostly Doppelmayr and Garaventa CTEC lifts, though a manufacturer for the new gondola was not named.

News Roundup: Economies of Scale

  • Poma wins monster $47.1 million contract for five lifts from the company that operates Val d’Isère, Tignes, Meribel, La Plagne and Les Arcs in France.  Last year’s three-lift, $29.4 million contract from the same group went to Doppelmayr.
  • An Australian teenager is lucky to be alive after doing pull ups on a moving chairlift cable.
  • The inaugural gondola featuring Sigma’s Symphony 10 cabins debuts in Italy.
  • Canton, Ohio looks at gondolas, calling them “transportainment.”
  • Props to Bear Valley for frequent Moke Express updates.
  • A judge sides with Monarch in lift unloading injury lawsuit.
  • Following a workplace death and news that a major lift is out of service, confusion surrounds Sunrise Park Resort’s season, though new management and lifts could be on the way.
  • Record-shattering aerial tramway with 6,381 feet of vertical and a 10,541′ free span opens in Germany a week from today.
  • Connecticut’s Woodbury Ski Area might be gone for good.
  • George Kruger of Ski Lifts Unlimited, instrumental in rebuilding lifts at Magic Mountain and beyond, passes away.
  • Leitner-Poma is completing final assembly of a cool 25-passenger tramway at the upcoming Salesforce Tower in San Francisco.