News Roundup: A Long Time Coming

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Red Mountain Details Upcoming Topping Expansion

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Western Canada’s oldest ski resort will continue to expand next summer with the addition of a new triple chairlift.  Red Mountain, situated along British Columbia’s famed Powder Highway, says the long sought Topping lift and terrain will debut for the 2019/20 season and bring the resort to 3,840 acres.  “This new triple chair is exciting on its own,” said Red CEO Howard Katkov in a statement. “But what’s truly exciting is how the Topping Chair continues our dedication to improving the adventure for our guests.  This new chair streamlines skier traffic around the resort beautifully.”  Guests will now be able to access Grey Mountain (opened in 2013) from the Silverlode lift (opened 2007) without needing to ride the extremely long Motherlode chair.  The 300 acre boundary expansion will also include six new intermediate trails approaching 1,000 vertical feet apiece.

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The new chairlift seen operating last winter at Big White.

The Mueller lift was purchased last year from Big White, where it operated for four decades as the Powder chair.  At Red, Topping will join an all fixed grip fleet of lifts built by Mueller, Doppelmayr, Poma, Lift Engineering and Thiokol.  With the confirmation of Red’s project, ski resorts across British Columbia have now committed to add at least four new lifts in 2019, more than any other Canadian province thus far.

Instagram Tuesday: Cavernous

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

 

Disney Skyliner Proving Runs Underway

The first of Walt Disney World’s three Skyliner lines is looking a lot like a gondola these days with cabins moving along at a brisk clip during test runs.  Line speed appears to be at least 5 m/s with cabin interval around 10 seconds, translating to a 3,600 per hour capacity.  We’ll have to wait and see what the final spacing and speeds are but it’s clear these gondolas are going to move a ton of people.

One of the many cabins now flying between Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Hollywood Studios was recently uncovered, providing some clues to how the system will look when completed.  The landing below the cabin doors is wider and squarer than normal for easy loading and unloading.  There are three windows that open out on the front of the cabin, one on the tower side and two at the rear.  Additional vents at the bottom ensure there will be plenty of air flow.  While gondola number 251 is a simple yellow with glazed windows, many other cabins will feature Disney character graphics.

The Epcot line, which stretches some 8,200 linear feet with two angle changes, is not far behind on its way to completion.

At the first angle station, landscaping is underway and stairs are being erected for worker access to the terminal.

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Leitner-Poma to Build New Quad at Sasquatch Mountain

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North America will be down to 56 operating Mueller lifts after this double chair is no more.

The original chairlift from Sasquatch Mountain Resort’s inaugural 1969-70 season will be replaced this summer with a Leitner-Poma fixed grip quad chair.  The new 4,000 foot lift will supplant a classic Mueller center pole double called Skyline, which rises just over 1,000 vertical feet.

Sasquatch, situated along a gravel road north of the fast growing city of Chilliwack, British Columbia, also features a Doppelmayr triple chair and newer Mueller beginner lift.  Back in December 2017, the resort announced a used Doppelmayr detachable quad chair would replace Skyline, a project which did not end up happening.

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Sasquatch Mountain used to be known as Hemlock Valley Resort and is operated by the Berezan Hospitality Group.

News Roundup: Slow Boat

  • After years of gondola negotiations with the Town of Jackson, a frustrated Snow King Mountain presses pause while it waits for the U.S. Forest Service to weigh in.
  • Doppelmayr completes the final link in the world’s largest gondola chain.  The stats: 10 lines, 21 miles, 34 stations and 1,324 cabins carrying 300,000 daily passengers.
  • Crested Butte’s longest lift goes down for more than four days due to communication line damage.
  • The announced sale of Montana’s Great Divide won’t happen.
  • Peak Resorts posts a solid financial quarter with organic growth in revenue and earnings.
  • The Whistler paper highlights what happens when the big Blackcomb Gondola goes down.
  • SkyTrans Manufacturing says it’s not to blame for the Ohio State Fair’s delay in replacing potentially corroded chairs on its skyride.  As a result of the chairlift situation, Ohio will require all ride operators to forward manufacturer directives to state inspectors going forward.
  • After tons of hard work by its lift mechanics and contractors, Attitash concedes it won’t be able to fix Summit‘s gearbox this season.  “We’ve heard your calls for a new lift to replace the Summit Triple, and while we appreciate all your feedback, this is not a project our parent company, Peak Resorts, is looking to do in the near future,” says GM John Lowell.
  • Leaders of AltaAspen Snowmass, Big Sky and Jackson Hole all pen letters addressing the chorus of Ikon Pass crowding criticism.
  • The Glenwood Caverns gondola takes flight tomorrow with 17 Sigma cabins.  27 more are on a delayed boat from France and will be put on line when they arrive.

Bogus Basin to Add Fourth High Speed Quad

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Opened in 1965 and converted to a triple in 1999, the Morning Star lift acts as a major out-of-base people mover at Bogus Basin and will be replaced this summer.

Make it an even six new lifts slated for construction across the great state of Idaho this year.  Bogus Basin announced today it will replace the Morning Star triple with a 3,100 foot detachable quad chair from Doppelmayr USA in time for next winter.  Capacity will increase and ride time will quicken dramatically to just over three minutes.  The Morning Star Express will rise approximately 625 vertical feet and service a variety of tails from beginner to expert.

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Nearly all of Bogus Basin’s terrain will be serviced by high speed lifts beginning next winter.

“We are really excited about an improvement that will have a tremendous impact on the flow of guests throughout the area in winter and summer,” said Kevin Settles, Bogus Basin board chairman in a press release. “The community has been incredibly supportive of the changes that have happened at Bogus Basin over the past three years, all of which are part of a comprehensive master plan.”  Bogus is the largest 501(c)3 nonprofit ski area in the country and operates a fleet of seven chairlifts on 2,600 acres.  Expect the $5 million lift to open some time in December.

 

Instagram Tuesday: Icons

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

News Roundup: Passcape

  • LST Ropeways’ prototype detachable chairlift in France is once again open.
  • Despite a wild winter in Colorado, the shiny new Glenwood Gondola is tracking towards a March 16th launch.
  • Mt. Spokane’s first new lift in four-plus decades has been spinning since December but the mountain’s nonprofit operator is still seeking donations to help pay for it.
  • Epic Passes go on sale and a new Epic Day Pass offers Vail Resorts skiers the option to pre-buy a flexible number of days at a big discount.
  • The Mountain Collective Pass is back for 2019-20 and, as expected, no longer includes Sun Valley or Snowbasin.
  • Following the collective model, an Indy Pass is brewing with eleven regional resorts already signed on.
  • Court documents suggest the Hermitage Club may file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
  • The highly anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Walt Disney World Resort August 29th, which would be a great date for the Skyliner to start carrying guests to it.
  • Aspen voters approve the Lift 1 corridor project by 26 votes, but it may be a few years before a Telemix joins the Ajax lift fleet.
  • Two years after a fatal ride accident blamed on corrosion, the Ohio State Fair is spending $116,000 to replace all the carriers on a different attraction – its chairlift.
  • Doppelmayr is looking for workers to help build lifts across the country this summer.
  • Vail Resorts season-to-date lift revenue is up 9.6 percent from a year ago, with skier visits increasing 7.9 percent.
  • Attitash won’t open Summit this weekend but not for lack of trying.
  • In California, the City of Long Beach is in the very early stages of considering a multistop gondola.
  • For the first time in years, Black Mountain is opening its 1935 vintage J-Bar this weekend.

Washington’s First Bubble Chair Coming to Mission Ridge

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Washington’s second longest chairlift is slated to be replaced with a newer version this fall.

The fifth US state to feature a bubble lift will be a place close to my heart – Washington.  Although both Alterra and Vail Resorts now operate mountains in the Evergreen State, it’s independent gem Mission Ridge that will debut a bubble lift next season.  Subject to Forest Service and state approvals, the used detachable quad will replace the Poma-built Liberator Express, which launched in 2005.  The existing lift came used from Winter Park and is now 34 years old.

Liberator stretches more than 6,500 feet and rises 1,600′ vertical but has not been very reliable in its life up north.  “The costs and limitations associated with maintaining the Liberator required us to take a new approach, so we began a search and found an ideal replacement,” said General Manager Josh Jorgensen in a statement.  “If approved, this investment will offer consistency of operations and a much more comfortable ride up the mountain,” he added.  “The new lift will come with all new electronic systems and controls which will serve Mission well for many years into the future.”

“We feel fortunate to have this opportunity,” noted Larry Scrivanich, the Seattle entrepreneur who purchased Mission Ridge from Harbor Properties 16 years ago.  At the time, Harbor also owned and had invested in new lifts at two other mountains while mostly neglecting its Wenatchee property.  Under Mr. Scrivanich’s leadership, Mission not only added the Liberator Express, but also Washington’s most comprehensive snowmaking system.  The resort recently launched an expansion plan, seeking to add three more lifts and a ski-in, ski-out village northeast of the current base area.  Some noted at the time of the announcement that the Liberator lift should be addressed first.  Now it will be, though with another used lift.  If all goes according to planned, Mission Ridge guests can be the only ones in the world to ride a classic Riblet double chair to a bubble detachable next winter.

Correction: This story originally stated that the lift would be new from Doppelmayr.  It has been updated to reflect that the lift, while Doppelmayr, is coming used from Europe.