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.

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36 thoughts on “Washington’s First Bubble Chair Coming to Mission Ridge

    • Max Hart March 21, 2019 / 5:17 am

      Looks like an ancient (1987) CLD-260 with EJ bubble chairs. Sounds like they are going from one maintenance nightmare to another.

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      • reaperskier March 21, 2019 / 5:49 am

        I am wondering if they are going to replace the chain return with a tire return?

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        • Collin Parsons March 21, 2019 / 8:10 am

          I don’t think that’s an option for CLD-260’s. Poma offers such a conversion for their old chain driven terminals.

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        • Max Hart March 21, 2019 / 8:43 am

          CLD-260s have a few kinks in the contour (one on the arrival side, one right on center, and another on the departure side). I’m not sure how the chain (which is fitted to the contour) could be replaced without having to eliminate the kinks and re-engineer the entire contour. Poma can offer the retrofit option because the Performant and Competition systems don’t have any kinks.

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        • Donald M. Reif March 21, 2019 / 1:31 pm

          Maybe custom made UNI G terminals with DS contour rails?

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      • Michael March 21, 2019 / 9:01 am

        I agree. Old technology, replacing all of the electrical, electronics and interface devices, all technical information in German, etc. Plus it is still operating and needs to be removed and shipped. It will be interesting to see who does the install….

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        • Peter Landsman March 21, 2019 / 9:07 am

          Not sure who is doing the install. Not Doppelmayr.

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        • Christoph March 21, 2019 / 11:05 am

          I think Müller & Stark (www.pro-alpin.com / https://www.facebook.com/ProAlpinRopewayServices/ ) from Austria will install the lift. They have a lot of experience in the installation of used lifts worldwide. Sometimes they install new lifts for Doppelmayr. They also remove the Lift in Austria. A few weeks ago the lift was for sale on their homepage.

          Liked by 2 people

  1. Cameron Halmrast March 8, 2019 / 4:41 pm

    Just on a side note, but Big Sky also has a Riblet.

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    • Peter Landsman March 8, 2019 / 4:44 pm

      But not one you are required to ride to get to a bubble chair. That is really unique. Mission Ridge is so old school it still doesn’t have carpet lifts. Next year there will be two rope tows, three Riblet doubles and the bubble.

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  2. Dhowe March 8, 2019 / 4:46 pm

    Such great news! This will be a nice enhancement for a very underrated ski resort

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  3. Ryan March 8, 2019 / 5:09 pm

    Why do they need bubbles?

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    • woody721 March 8, 2019 / 5:48 pm

      Because it’s an extremely long chair ride, much of it exposed to wind. Even though often the skiing off of it is out of the wind.

      Like

  4. Max Hart March 8, 2019 / 5:24 pm

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Mission Ridge hung on to Liberator and did a Snowmass-style conversion to a fixed grip quad for use elsewhere on the mountain.

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    • reaperskier March 8, 2019 / 5:27 pm

      Like when the old fanny hill high speed quad at snowmass was converted into two fixed grip quads?

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      • Max Hart March 9, 2019 / 4:18 am

        Exactly

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    • Dhowe March 8, 2019 / 6:12 pm

      They could and should use it to replace chair 4. That lift is scary

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      • woody721 March 8, 2019 / 6:25 pm

        Chair 2 is very unreliable. Chair 4 is very reliable. Chair 2 belongs in a scrap pile.

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        • Dhowe March 8, 2019 / 6:32 pm

          C4 may be reliable but every stop is accompanied by violent bouncing of the rope. They both need replacement

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Paul Manafort March 8, 2019 / 5:38 pm

    Holy shit this is awesome!!

    Like

  6. Somebody March 10, 2019 / 10:09 pm

    Sad to see such a classic poma detachable go, oh well though. Maybe some components from it will be reused in different ways (ie, fanny hill/original ajax express).

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  7. Chairlift Memes March 12, 2019 / 5:45 pm

    Do we know anything about the European one other than it having bubbles and being European?

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    • Somebody March 12, 2019 / 8:20 pm

      Its a dopp hsq. Here’s to hoping its not one with DS series grips.

      Liked by 2 people

      • GreatEight March 12, 2019 / 8:26 pm

        Agreed!

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      • John March 13, 2019 / 4:00 pm

        Is there something wrong with DS grips?

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        • Max Hart March 13, 2019 / 4:13 pm

          No, but there is with the EJ Bubble chairs!

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        • Somebody March 13, 2019 / 7:50 pm

          Hopping from one old HSQ with issues to a different old HSQ (which will pretty soon have issues) seems like a bad plan.

          Liked by 1 person

        • atc1701 March 17, 2019 / 10:50 am

          Nothing particularly wrong with the DS grips, but a DS-era (<1994) lift won't be an effective investment for any more than 10 years. After that, it'll become a hassle like the POMA Liberator. The bubbles themselves would probably be in atrocious condition, so it wouldn't be good for customer satisfaction.

          I suspect the lift will be mid to late 90s era (UNI Spacejet terminals and DT grips), or potentially a very early UNI-G lift (early 2000s). I'm guessing the former, primarily because Dopplemayr installed many of bubble quads across Europe in that era, many of which are starting to be replaced with bubble sixes or eights.

          Like

  8. Florber March 22, 2019 / 7:25 pm

    The new lift is the same age as the Alpha Evolution it’s replacing. Is the improvement just the bubbles, because if that is, why didn’t they just put new chairs on Liberator?

    Like

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