Alterra Building New Lifts at Stratton, Tremblant and Winter Park

Alterra Mountain Co., the new operator of eleven leading North American mountain resorts, today announced a transformational capital investment of $130 million to be followed by hundreds of millions more over the next five years.  New lifts will debut at Winter Park Resort in Colorado, Mont Tremblant in Quebec and Stratton Mountain Resort in Vermont in time for next winter.  Competitor Vail Resorts revealed a similar $150 million plan for 2018-19 with six new lifts across its resorts last December.

Goodbye massive lines at Zephyr, hello gondola.

The largest single project for Alterra is a 10-passenger Zephyr Gondola at Winter Park replacing the current 1990 high-speed quad, the key people mover out of The Village at Winter Park.  The new $16 million Leitner-Poma lift will be capable of moving 3,600 guests per hour to Sunspot, up from 2,600, and is the first new lift at the resort since 2007.  It will feature Leitner-Poma’s DirectDrive technology, reducing energy consumption and the number of moving parts that can lead to down time.  The new lift may also get a new name.  “Zephyr is certainly on the table but nothing’s been decided yet,” said Steve Hurlbert, a spokesman for the resort.

Winter Park’s first true gondola will sport Sigma Diamond 10 cabins.

At Stratton, a new Doppelmayr high-speed detachable quad will replace Snow Bowl, a 1986 Poma fixed-grip quad.  This project has been sorely needed for years and word of it leaked with an Act 250 permit filed late last week.  “A new Snow Bowl lift topped our priority list,” said Stratton President and COO Bill Nupp. “Guests were clear on that. This high-speed chairlift will enhance flow, access and reliability. We expect to dismantle the 31-year-old fixed-grip quad it replaces and fly out the towers as soon as the season wraps up, with the new lift ready for the 2018-19 season pending final permit approval.”  The new lift will have 98 chairs and reduce ride time from 14 minutes to five.  A parking rail at the bottom terminal will allow for faster deicing times and shorter towers will increase wind resistance.  Interestingly, construction will pause from May 15th to August 1st so as to not disturb Bicknell’s Thrush habitat during that species’ nesting period.

At Canadian favorite Tremblant, a second Doppelmayr high-speed quad will replace the Lowell Thomas lift, a 1980 Doppelmayr triple, increasing capacity by 33 percent.  “Today we are extremely proud to announce this major investment at Station Mont Tremblant with industry forerunner Alterra Mountain Company lending us the power and the expertise to do so,” noted Patrice Malo, Tremblant’s President and Chief Operating Officer.  “Over 17 million dollars will be invested this year.”

U.S. and Canadian ski resorts have announced more than $90 million worth of new lifts so far in March.  Perhaps the biggest news today is Alterra has budgeted $555 million for capital improvements at its resorts over the next five years.  “At our core, we are a ski company and we offer year-round mountain experiences to skiers, riders and summer visitors of all ages from all over the world,” said Rusty Gregory, Chief Executive Officer at Alterra. “Each aspect of our business plays a part in the guest experience that brings them back year after year, from a welcoming base area to an efficient ski school to exceptional services. It is our commitment to invest in each of our destinations in order to grow the sport, offer a variety of activities, inspire loyal guests and instill a love of the mountains in all that visit. We do that through thoughtful and innovative capital investment that improves a guest’s experience, while we continue to support and preserve the character and traditions of each destination.”  Further projects will be announced this fall and half a billion dollars could buy a whole lot more lifts.


42 thoughts on “Alterra Building New Lifts at Stratton, Tremblant and Winter Park

  1. Collin March 12, 2018 / 9:43 am

    With the 7 million dollar pricetag, I think the new Snow Bowl lift will be a 6-CLD. A 4-CLD would be cheaper. Plus all their other detachable chairlifts are 6-CLD’s. Hopefully they make it low to the ground up top to eliminate the wind closures that plague the current lift.

    The Tremblant lift will be welcome, but makes no sense. Duncan needed a replacement much more. The only reason Lowell Thomas ever had a line was because Duncan had an even worse line so people would ride Expo to Lowell Thomas to get to the top of the North Side. However, Lowell Thomas is the last remaining fixed grip on the main mountain and they will now run a nearly all detachable fleet which is a great thing.

    I thought Zephyr would be a 8-MGD or a 6/8-CGD. But a 10-MGD has more capacity and with the restaurant up top and it being the summer lift it makes sense to be a full gondola. The question is whether Zephyr is sold/relocated or scrapped. My guess is it is scrapped as it’s 28 years old with high hours and with the super short terminals it can only travel at 800fpm and most ski areas want 1000fpm line speed on their detachables.


    • Matt C. March 13, 2018 / 9:36 am

      Always thought Tremblant would upgrade South Side HSQ’s to HSS’s and then mover one of the former South Side Quads to replace LTT (and maybe the other to the Edge?). Agree Duncan needs to be replaced, long old HSQ and quite cold. Could easily see a bubble 6 there in time. And while they are at it, Solei needs some upgrades, the terminals are ancient (still use chain cadencing).


  2. Doppelmayr FTW March 12, 2018 / 10:04 am

    Id be shocked if snow bowl doesn’t have a bubble with that price tag


    • Peter Landsman March 12, 2018 / 10:58 am

      Alterra paid $52,635.18 with their Act 250 application. The fee is $6.65 per $1,000 of construction value up to $15 million. Some back of the envelope math would put the total project at $7,915,065. Seems awfully high for a standard high-speed quad.


  3. ALEX BOESENBERG March 12, 2018 / 11:41 am

    Press release implies a Gondola + 3 new chairlifts; but all i see is the Gondola at WP, detachable at Stratton, and HSQ at Tremblant. Anyone know about the third chairlift?



    • Peter Landsman March 12, 2018 / 11:44 am

      Nice catch. Makes me wonder if one got axed. Here’s another discrepancy between the Alterra and Winter Park press releases: one says 3,200 pph for the gondola and the other says 3,600.


      • Thomas Jett March 12, 2018 / 11:54 am

        I know that the master plan calls for Zephyr to have a second stage up to Lunch Rock. Could you see them building that this year as well?


      • alex April 15, 2018 / 9:52 pm

        I think I found the mystery third lift upgrade for Alterra for this summer….Deer Valley Homestake upgrade.

        “The resort will open for the summer on June 15, and plans on replacing the Homestake lift in preparation for next winter, upgrading its lift capabilities to allow for a smoother, faster ride by altering it from a grip lift to a high speed detachable lift.”


        • Peter Landsman April 15, 2018 / 11:24 pm

          From Deer Valley directly: “We are still finalizing the details and approvals. At this time that is the plan. We will update the public when we have more information.”


      • Thomas Jett April 16, 2018 / 9:25 pm

        The Homestake upgrade shocks me. It’s not even 1,800ft long, and already runs at 2,800 pp*h^-1. There are better lifts that Alterra can put money into even at Deer Valley, like Mayflower, or the Lakeside expansion. And what about the west coast? J1 at June, 2 and 16 at Mammoth, and Red Dog at Squaw all seem like they’re desperately in need of upgrades. I can see punting on Red Dog, because the Squalpine Gondola is supposedly going in for 2019, but all of the former Cali4nia resorts have been as long as Deer Valley without a new lift, despite much larger crowds.


  4. Peter Landsman March 12, 2018 / 12:24 pm

    Post has been updated to reflect that Stratton’s new lift will be a Doppelmayr detachable quad.


    • Kyle W. March 12, 2018 / 5:18 pm

      That’s insane money for a 4-CLD. Even if it has bubbles $7.9 million seems way high.


      • Andy March 12, 2018 / 5:50 pm

        $7.9 million is the price of the removal of the old chair, removal of old foundations, groundwork, under ground electrical cabling on the new one, earthworks, stream water protection measures, tower foundation digging, concrete work, and new chairlift construction. Also may include post construction hillside rehab (tree and plant planting). New chairlift storage building, if needed, thrown in for good measure.


      • Matt C. March 13, 2018 / 9:33 am

        Don’t forget, Dopp will be working in a compressed timeframe on Snowbowl as well due to Bicknell’s Thrush nesting/mating season (lift work suspended from May til August IIRC). So that compression may be driving the pricetag up a bit.


  5. Cameron Halmrast March 12, 2018 / 1:17 pm

    Curious to know if Zephyr will be relocated to replace Sunnyside or revamp Pioneer. I was just at Winter Park and while most of the lifts were closed due to wind, Zephyr was kept open which makes me wonder if the gondola will be able to run in the high winds.


    • Collin March 12, 2018 / 1:23 pm

      Pioneer is actually able to run faster than Zephyr so it won’t be used there. My guess is Zephyr is just scrapped with parts going to their other Challenger terminal lifts Olympia, Prospector, and Gemini. It probably has more hours than Pioneer from running in the summer.


    • Jonathan March 12, 2018 / 3:43 pm

      I called WP today and asked about the chairs. She said that the chairs and lift are very old. She also said that the chairs have no value anymore. The lift runs late at night as well. It may have too many operating hours on it for it to be relocated. It sounded like the lift may be scrapped.


  6. Cooper March 12, 2018 / 5:18 pm

    The thing I like about Leitner-Poma is their Sigma gondola cabins. The best good looking cabins I’ve seen. The only one I rode in is WB’s Village gondola. Yes, I know Sigma is a separate company from LP.


  7. Ryan March 12, 2018 / 6:25 pm

    At WP, I believe High Lonesome Express is similar to Zepher, so some parts from Zepher might be able to be used to help HLE?


  8. Boardski March 13, 2018 / 2:32 pm

    Zephyr lift upgrade all be nice. Wp allows foot passengers to ride the lift during the day causing excessively frequent stops, the new lift will correct that issue nicely. I would have liked seeing Sunnyside upgraded also but hopefully that will be next. I do like the idea of moving existing Sunnyside into the cirque. That way people can stay back there for a few laps before the long traverse back.


    • Tijsen March 13, 2018 / 5:39 pm

      By the looks of it it will be a UNI-G model.


    • Max Hart March 13, 2018 / 5:48 pm

      I love how they call the annoying bars found on Sugarloaf at Alta the “Alta Style” bars!

      I also can’t help but notice the bubble chairs in the “Terminal side views” drawing. The look just like the bubble chairs on the Orange Bubble Express at Park City.


    • smacpats March 13, 2018 / 8:32 pm

      Glad to see it looks like they are [partially] fixing the disaster unload situation at the top of the lift. Also, did I see bubbles?


      • Peter Landsman March 13, 2018 / 8:38 pm

        They aren’t bubbles. Just the safety bars/footrests shown in both up and down positions.


      • smacpats March 13, 2018 / 9:24 pm

        1st picture has EJ carriers, third has European style carriers. Wonder what we will get in December.

        Also, this is the first high speed lift on the mountain with footrests. Thank god. Sounds like Alterra actually cares about my legs on pow days.


      • Bill Smith March 16, 2018 / 9:42 pm

        They wouldn’t put bubble is at the Snowbowl because, if you have ever skied at Stratton you would know this, the Snowbowl is REALLY windy at the top. This wind is what forces the gondola and Snowbowl lift to be closed so often. Buuble chairs, if the bubble isn’t down it catches ALOT of wind. so if a bubble chair is put in at the Snowbowl it would be closed regularly due to the wind.


    • Thomas Jett May 17, 2018 / 8:25 pm

      Hey Peter, do you know where I can find any other of these Doppelmayr profile drawings?


  9. Ryan March 13, 2018 / 10:28 pm

    Why are people so obsessed with bubbles. Sheesh.


    • tjskiloaf17 March 14, 2018 / 9:01 am

      because they’re awesome for us tele skiers


    • smacpats March 14, 2018 / 4:41 pm

      When its raining. Or sleet. Or Freezing rain. You get the idea. I’ve had some decent days be cut short because of how miserable Ursa was. And before you go “But gondol-“, the stratton gondola has absurd lines, and almost every time I try taking it I end up on Amex in the freezing rain.


      • Collin March 14, 2018 / 5:31 pm

        I’ve been to Whiteface a lot and it’s the same story. Their gondola also always has atrocious lines sometimes even midweek. They didn’t buy enough cabins and run it super slow (design speed is 1212 fpm but I’ve never seen it run anywhere near that speed). Even when the line is a full maze at the gondola and there’s no line at the chairs, everyone still lines right up for it. I don’t get it. You don’t really gain any meaningful terrain by going to the gondola over the upper chairs. I just don’t feel the need to ski the lower mountain every run, nor do I have the patience to wait in line. Some (most) people do lap the gondola, seemingly all day. I guess everyone just has to ride the gondola and can’t stand to ride a chair. But I shouldn’t complain that much. It’s their loss. I’ll just ride the chairs, but then management closes them because no one is riding them and opting to wait in the gondola line instead.


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