News Roundup: Un-Lost?

  • The State of Pennsylvania looks to spend $7.8 million on new lifts at Denton Hill, where a Riblet triple, Hall double and two platter lifts last spun in 2014.  A private operator is also being sought.
  • Maple Valley, Vermont – last operated in 2000 with three Hall lifts – sells to a new ownership group.
  • As Aspen Mountain prepares to reinvent Lift One, the Aspen Daily News traces the remarkable history of the original.
  • Doppelmayr will build and operate a $64 million urban 3S gondola in Moscow.
  • The Portland Aerial Tram is set to close for five weeks in June and July while the track ropes are slipped downhill.
  • Leitner commissions the first 2S gondola with DirectDrive in South Korea.
  • As the public comment period nears its end, California Express faces critics.
  • Under the proposed Hermitage Club receivership, FTI Consulting would maintain properties but wouldn’t reopen the mountain for skiing next winter.  The Club objects to some of the proposal even though the receivership would be dissolved if Berkshire Bank is paid in full or the assets auctioned off.
  • This guy is lucky to be okay and probably won’t be allowed back to Squaw Valley for a long time.
  • Boston’s Seaport gondola proposal might be in trouble.
  • The Forest Service gives a final green light to Purgatory’s Gelande lift project although construction this summer is uncertain.
  • Hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum coming into the United States from the European Union, Canada and Mexico take effect at midnight tonight.
  • North America’s newest urban gondolas, built by Poma in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo, carried 41,000 riders in their first 18 hours last week.
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Instagram Tuesday: Dropping

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

Today was pretty sweet! #liftmaintenance #keypeople

A post shared by Eric Graham (@marshinbrains) on

 

News Roundup: Needs

  • Mt. Sunapee plans to install the former Sunbowl quad in place of the North Peak triple and move that lift to the other side of North Peak as early as 2019.
  • There are now four Snow King Mountain master plan alternatives; all include a base-to-summit gondola and three have a new backside chairlift.
  • The first fly day of 2018 title goes to SilverStar, Doppelmayr and Vancouver Island Helicopters.
  • A top ramp incident at Wachusett Mountain apparently leads to a $72,000 verdict.
  • The approved Mt. Baldy tram at Alta remains contentious and may never happen.
  • In hot and dry Arizona, officials close large swaths of National Forest including all outdoor summer activities at Arizona Snowbowl until further notice.
  • The asking price for Blacktail Mountain is $3.5 million.
  • As BMF builds its first detachable lift in Iran, the Swiss company says it has no interest in the U.S. market.
  • OSHA proposes $64,673 in fines for 15 violations identified during the investigation into Loveland lift mechanic Adam Lee’s death.
  • West Mountain needs a Poma return terminal and eight quad gauge towers in order to complete its third new lift of the decade.
  • When Alta’s reimagined Snowpine Lodge opens in January, you will be able to get there on a dedicated Skytrac chairlift.

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Instagram Tuesday: Airborne

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

The Hermitage Club to Enter Receivership

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A very nice lift sits idle facing an uncertain future at The Hermitage Club this spring.

Berkshire Bank’s foreclosure on the largest private ski resort in New England is moving forward, Vermont Public Radio reports.  A judge sided with the lender yesterday allowing a receiver to soon take over operations of Haystack Mountain, a golf course and associated properties.   The Massachusetts-based bank says the Hermitage owes $16.3 million in principal plus penalties and interest on three loans initially worth $17.1 million.  In his decision, Judge John Treadwell wrote the Club “lacks sufficient resources to adequately protect and preserve the subject property.”  The news comes a week after Hermitage management said two buyers were interested in purchasing the resort.

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Earlier in the week, the same court ruled in favor of a man owed $1,373,693 on a $1.4 million loan for a nearby inn the Hermitage bought.  Club founder Jim Barnes has 30 days in which he can reclaim that property, which currently sits empty with no insurance.  Judge Treadwell also signed off on an Iowa company’s request to repossess 74 golf vehicles with help from the local sheriff.  The court then ruled in favor of a New York couple who paid nearly a million dollars for a slopeside townhouse that was never delivered.  A local excavation contractor also filed suit this week seeking $450,000 plus interest for work allegedly completed but not paid for.

The exclusive ski resort near Mt. Snow includes five chairlifts, three of which are just a few years old.  The flagship is one of the first lifts with heated seats and bubbles in the United States and cost $6.9 million.  There are also two new Skytracs which could prove valuable in an auction.  The ski mountain last operated on March 25th, after which it was shut down by the Vermont Department of Taxes for the second time in a month.  The Hermitage Club reportedly owed the state more than $1 million in sales, meals and rooms taxes plus property taxes to the towns of Dover and Wilmington. Berkshire Bank says it paid many of them to avoid a tax sale.

The proposed receiver, FTI Consulting, is the same outfit that assisted during the Yellowstone Club bankruptcy and reorganization. The Hermitage will become the third Vermont ski resort currently in receivership. Back in 2016, a federal court appointed a Florida law firm to temporarily take over Jay Peak and Burke Mountain following emergency action by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Hopefully all three mountains will find capable new buyers in the year to come.

News Roundup: Change of Plans

  • Mammoth seeks to replace the workhorse Canyon Express #16 with a detachable six place lift in a new alignment.
  • Plans for Battle Mountain Resort that once featured ten chairlifts and two gondolas near Vail no longer do.
  • Leitner-Poma’s self-driving mini aerial tramway in San Francisco will debut this summer.
  • A Grafton, Illinois gondola project faces a key vote with groundbreaking possible later this summer.
  • Partek will build a brand new quad chair this summer at West Mountain, New York.

  • Ghost Town – the defunct chairlift-accessed amusement park in North Carolina – may reopen in 2019.
  • A court rules in favor of plaintiffs in three Hermitage Club cases but is still considering next steps for the ski mountain foreclosure.
  • The latest Aspen Lift One meetings go well.
  • You probably heard Jerusalem in the news this week but not for the $56 million earmarked to build a four station gondola there.
  • Like the first one, the second Disney Skyliner terminal to go airborne has two distinct turnarounds.

Forest Service Launches Aspen Mountain Pandora Analysis

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The White River National Forest will consider yet another new lift project over the coming months, this time high on Aspen Mountain.  A Notice of Proposed Action released today comes as the most-skied forest in the country simultaneously weighs proposals for two new lifts on Vail Mountain, two in McCoy Park at Beaver Creek and one at Aspen Highlands.  For Ajax, Aspen Skiing Company proposes to build the long-dreamed of Pandora lift to the east of the current Gent’s Ridge lift while adding 148 acres of new terrain.  The 4,191-foot top drive detachable quad would likely meet the Forest and SkiCo’s shared goals of enhancing terrain variety, improving circulation and providing reliable and consistent snow coverage.

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Unlike many of its peers, only 37 percent of Aspen Mountain occupies National Forest lands while the other 63 percent is privately held.  The new lift would traverse some of each and move up to 2,000 skiers per hour to the summit.  Vertical rise would be 1,220′ compared with 1,079′ at the longer and flatter Gent’s Ridge.  Aspen Skiing Company also proposes to add 53 acres of snowmaking coverage on six existing trails nearby.  A 30 day public scoping period runs through June 15th and input is being accepted online.  Project engineer SE Group has prepared an interactive web app to assist the public and there will be an open house as Aspen’s Limelight hotel next Wednesday night.  Aspen Snowmass hopes to win approval around the new year and build as early as 2019.

Instagram Tuesday: Diverging

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

Building a Better Lift One in Aspen

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The third time may be the charm as the Aspen community is set to weigh the future of the Shadow Mountain lift over the coming months.

Come November 6th, Aspen residents will vote for Governor, U.S. House, and likely whether a ski lift should return to the original base of Aspen Mountain.  SE Group and the City of Aspen today posted 61 pages of study on the new Lift One with a focus on where to site the bottom terminal, a question which has lingered since 1972.  Goals include retaining the historic structures of the first Lift One, threading the needle between two new developments, and improving skier flow.  An aggressive proposed timeline begins Tuesday with review by the City Council that could culminate with a new gondola-chair combination lift spinning by late 2019.  That would be 48 years after a shortened SLI-Riblet double dubbed 1A eliminated easy access for much of the town to Shadow Mountain.

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This is the primary lift for one of the few World Cup courses in America.

The current lift starts about four towers higher than the 1946 single chair did and, like its predecessor, has reached the end of its useful life following decades of service.  The International Ski Federation makes no secret the obsolete machine is a big reason why Aspen does not host World Cup skiing as often as some of its peers.

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But things are finally looking up – or actually down.  SE Group analyzed nine chondola, chairlift, surface lift and funicular options and ones dubbed Option 1 and Option 7 were identified for detailed study that commenced in February.  An A and B variation were added to alternative number 7, leaving four scenarios in play to bring the lift back into town.  Option 1, shown above, would put the bottom terminal level with Gilbert Street between the old Lift 1 terminal and the “new” one.  Because of space constraints with Aspen Skiing Company’s preferred Telemix (chondola in Poma parlance), the lift would likely be a straight gondola or possibly a detachable chairlift.  Skier access from above would be excellent but the public would have a 40-foot vertical climb to get to the load point from town.  Furthermore, the developer of the proposed Lift One Lodge would have to give up an entire building worth of units.  The historic lift terminal and remaining towers from the first Lift One could be retained, which is an important community objective.  This is deemed a viable, but not best option.

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News Roundup: Last Call

  • No ticket, no card.  You can now ride lifts using only your phone at Sunshine Village.
  • Berkshire East owners buy Catamount with summer business and upgrading aging infrastructure on the agenda.
  • U.S. skier visits decline 2.8 percent for 2017-18 with the Midwest and Southeast up year-over-year, the Northeast flat and the Rockies, Pacific Northwest and Southwest regions down.
  • New lift construction is nonetheless pacing 25 percent ahead of last year and 43 points above this date in 2016.
  • Quebec area Val Neigette closes for good with its Doppelmayr quad chairlift headed to an unknown Ontario mountain to cover outstanding debt.
  • Mi Teleférico is apparently in talks to build dozens more urban gondolas in La Paz between 2020 and 2030.
  • The Balsams project faces a key state vote on May 21st.
  • Add Nashville to the list of US cities considering public transport gondolas.
  • Boyne Resorts closes on its purchase of seven mountain resorts, bringing its owned and operated portfolio to ten across North America.
  • Jackson, Wyoming stakeholders mostly agree to site a new gondola in a public park at the base of Snow King Mountain.
  • Loveland will hold a lottery for season passholders to win purchase rights for Lift 1 chairs.
  • The final last chair for the Norway lift at A-Basin is Sunday.