Beech Mountain, North Carolina will replace two of its workhorse chairlifts ahead of the 2018/2019 winter season as had been rumored for weeks. Lift 5, which ascends to the 5,506-foot summit and was originally built in 1987, is currently being disassembled in preparation for the installation of a new Doppelymayr fixed-grip quad. The new lift will include a loading conveyor to ensure safe boarding, higher travel speeds and shorter trip times. Lift 5 will now include 144 chairs with a 6.5 minute ride time accommodating 2,400 people per hour.
This marks only the second time in North American history that a fixed-grip chairlift will replace a detachable one, though there could be more in the near future. Sugarbush, Vermont swapped the 1990 Green Mountain Express for a fixed quad in 1995, though the route went detachable again in 2002. Willamette Pass, Oregon’s detachable six-pack is currently up for sale, eyed to be replaced with a fixed-grip lift that would be more affordable to operate. A used T-Bar may also rise this summer at Ascutney, Vermont on the site of a former high-speed quad. If Tamarack, Idaho is ever able to rebuild the Wildwood Express, it could be another detachable-turned-fixed-grip scenario.
Back to Beech, Lift 6, currently a double chair with parts from Goforth Brothers, Hall and Doppelmayr, will be replaced with another Doppelmayr fixed-grip quad. This one will feature 106 chairs and a 6.5 minute travel time with a capacity of 2,000 people per hour. Both quad lifts will feature footrests, upholstered seating and back rests. Guests can now expect to reach the mountain’s 5,506-foot summit with easy on-and-off loading, comfortable seating, and a more efficient layout to eliminate congestion.