Owl’s Head to Replace Lake Lift


The world’s first high speed quad is finally headed for retirement after 38 winter seasons in two countries.  Owl’s Head in Quebec will dismantle the Lake quad this spring, a machine which originally entered service at Breckenridge as Quicksilver in 1981.  The Doppelmayr detachable moved to Quebec in 1999 but has been out of service of late due to mechanical problems.

ok (41)
The soon-to-be-gone Lake lift utilizes chain conveyors and a remote tension bullwheel unlike modern detachable lifts.  Photo credit: rodo_af, remontees-mecaniques.net.

The replacement will be a $2.6 million Doppelmayr Alpen-Star fixed-grip quad with loading carpet that will open in time for next season.  The new lift will move up to 2,200 skiers per hour.  This is the first major investment by a new ownership group at an area with seriously aging infrastructure.  “We were more than due to upgrade this lift,” said Destination Owl’s Head CEO Pierre Bourdages.  “The loading carpet will be a huge improvement, especially for young and new skiers.”


29 thoughts on “Owl’s Head to Replace Lake Lift

  1. B.R. March 4, 2019 / 8:01 pm

    It’s definitely time for an upgrade, but it is also sad to see this lift go away.

    It’s an icon!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. 541 March 4, 2019 / 8:12 pm

    Carpet is a mistake. Guaranteed

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Collin Parsons March 4, 2019 / 8:14 pm

    No question this lift needs to be replaced, but I’m not sure you can replace a detachable with a fixed grip and call it an upgrade. I know it costs more, but they’re going to have whatever lift they get for 30+ years so it makes sense to do it right the first time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • skitheeast March 4, 2019 / 8:26 pm

      Agreed. Skiers will also be very disappointed when the “upgraded” lift moves slower and takes longer.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ted March 5, 2019 / 4:14 am

    You have to remember that that lift only runs 787 fpm, that is noticebly slower than modern detachable quads.


    • Teddy's Lift World March 5, 2019 / 4:39 am

      Yes, but keep in mind that a fixed grip quad will probably only move at 450 FPM in reality and it would make many more stops and slows. I personally don’t like loading conveyors because many people don’t know how to use them and end up falling. This is a dumb upgrade. I think they should just go with a standard UNI-G detachable quad.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Peter Landsman March 5, 2019 / 8:25 am

    From Jeremy Davis of NELSAP fame via email:

    “Thought I’d share an interesting tidbit on the first detachable quad- it wasn’t the Breckenridge one that went to Owl’s Head. Instead, it was built by Mohawk International at Val Bialas in Utica, NY in 1969. It was plagued by problems and barely operated.”


    • Teddy's Lift World March 5, 2019 / 9:52 am

      Are there any pictures of this lift. I can imagine how much of a disaster that lift must have been.


    • Max Hart March 5, 2019 / 11:53 am

      Wait a second…
      Is he saying that the lift at Owl’s Head isn’t the former Quicksilver detachable quad? Because it most certainly is.


      • Teddy's Lift World March 5, 2019 / 12:59 pm

        No, what he’s saying is that Quicksilver was not the first detachable quad. It was a place in New York in 1969 but it was so unreliable that it was removed after a few years. I don’t know if this info is true, but this is how I understand it.


        • Peter Landsman March 5, 2019 / 1:37 pm

          The Ski Area Management lift survey indicates it was a detachable double, not a quad, installed in 1968. But it also says the capacity was 2,400 per hour, which would indicate a quad. Line speed was 650 and it was replaced by a Borvig double in 1973.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Marge March 5, 2019 / 12:11 pm

      Were did you get your tidbit information?


      • Marge March 5, 2019 / 2:22 pm

        You really should get the right information, the lift was redone in 2016, ran with no problems !!! Not a disaster at all


        • Michael March 5, 2019 / 3:08 pm

          Marge- They are talking about the Mohawk International detachable that was built at Val Bialas, NY in 1969 being a disaster, not the lift at Owl’s Head.


      • Collin Parsons March 8, 2019 / 7:37 am

        What? Sideways chairs?


        • Teddy's Lift World March 8, 2019 / 9:39 am

          I can tell why that piece of junk was removed after 3 years. I shouldn’t be harsh on it but it looks like it would be so unreliable.


    • Mountaineer March 19, 2021 / 10:14 am

      Does it matter that it was a bicable chair?


  6. Charlie March 5, 2019 / 3:49 pm

    You should try to get there this winter


  7. JP March 6, 2019 / 11:01 am

    Not a good move, that lift replaced a fix-dual orange chair back in the 90’s. There was a lot of traffic there. They should have invested in a detachable quad with no carpet. Carpet suck…..big big time.


  8. Roger-Pierre Girard March 6, 2019 / 11:58 am

    C’était une vieille chaise bi-énergie, électricité et dièsel !!!!! Bonne idée le changement mais le tapis pour skieur n’est pas nécéssaire c’est souvent ”détimé”. nous sommes loin de la chaise orange !!!! Je n’y suis pas allez encore depuis la vente par Mr,& Mrs.Korman, j’adorais le style de cette station, j’espère que ça n’a pas trop changé. !!!!


  9. Mark March 10, 2019 / 6:46 pm

    Never heard of replacing a detachable chairlift with a fixed grip being considered an upgrade before. Shame to see such an iconic lift go, but maybe it was such a problem that this was the right choice. Mission Ridge in Washington is replacing a detachable quad from 1985 with another detachable quad due to reliability issues.


  10. Andrew January 21, 2020 / 11:11 am

    So what I don’t understand is that it doesn’t go all the way to the bottom… There is a huge part of the run not covered and one of the best pieces of the run. Does anyone know whether it will go as far down as the original lift. I emailed management but crickets…


  11. Donald Reif January 21, 2020 / 3:25 pm

    Here’s the lift as it was in its original home:

    Liked by 1 person

    • A. Mauch January 9, 2023 / 10:27 pm

      I was looking around for pictures of the original lift and stumbled upon this post. I forgot about this video.

      0:19 – Peak 10 in the background undeveloped
      1:18 – The bottom of the original D-Lift

      When it was installed at Breckenridge, it was load tested using kegs of beer from the Coors Brewery in Golden Colorado. On busy days, only seasoned lift operators, a supervisor, and a mechanic where assigned to this thing. People would occasionally pull the chairs out of the chain dogs (spacers) as the chairs progressed around the bottom contour to the load ramp. A seasoned operator could catch it and advance the chair back into the dogs by hand before it got loaded. I can’t remember what year or what holiday it was, but the lift line was nearly 1/4 of the way up where camels back is today, it was massive! There must have been 5 lift operators at the bottom literally pushing people to the load ramp keeping passengers queued, and 6 at the top kicking off bindings and dragging the crashes off the unload ramp with a couple patrollers…4 butts in every chair, and no stops…that was always the goal.

      The bottom terminal had a vertically positioned return bull-wheel attached to a live counterweight for tension (hung in the tower behind the terminal). The video poorly shows how the haul rope was deflected up and out of the roof to the “counterweight pit”. I think it had 20 or so feet of movement it could make, and when the lift stopped while is was fully loaded that counterweight traveled every bit of it. It was labor intensive to operate during its golden years but a really neat old machine! It’s pretty amazing the folks at Owls Head kept it operational up until 2019. 38 total years of operation with a custom re-engineering/reinstall job mid-way thru it’s life…you don’t see that often.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s