Instagram Tuesday: Bike Season

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

News Roundup: 3S

Lake Louise Pitches New Long Range Plan

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Under a new plan, the long abandoned Eagle chair would finally be replaced along with many other proposed upgrades.

The only regular venue for World Cup alpine racing in Canada is Lake Louise, which also happens to be among the most naturally scenic places one can ski anywhere.  Louise is one of three ski resorts located in Banff National Park along with Sunshine Village and Norquay, which are also considering making major lift investments in the coming years.  Lake Louise hopes a proposed reduction in overall acreage will allow it to add up to nine new chairlifts along with other improved amenities over the next 15 years.  Even though the resort’s permitted boundary would decrease from 5,400 acres to approximately 4,100, comfortable carrying capacity would increase from 6,000 to 9,000 skiers per day.  “The new plan focuses on enhancing terrain, facilities and services for all visitors, during all seasons, and will lead to a better visitor experience,” the project website notes.  “It will allow us to continue to protect local sensitive areas and species, while advancing environmental awareness and conservation goals for future generations.”

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Like at other large mountains with only one portal, out-of-base capacity is a problem.  At Lake Louise, it was compounded by the retirement of Olympic without a direct replacement in 2004.  The four person, Leitner-built Glacier Express would be rebuilt as a six place lift.  A new Juniper high speed quad is proposed load near Olympic and service three new beginner trails.  Another new lift called Meadowlark would board near the Grizzly Express Gondola with detachable quad chairs.  These improvements would bring out-of-base capacity to 9,000 skiers per hour, almost double the current level.

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The standing but not operating Olympic chair was built by Murray-Latta in 1966.

Another high speed quad called Upper Juniper would relieve pressure from the Top of the World ExpressSummit Platter would be removed and replaced with a fixed grip chairlift in completely a new alignment with wind exposure in mind.  The new lift would load at the Top of the World and unload higher near the true top of Whitehorn Mountain.   Also on the upper mountain, a new Eagle chairlift would replace the retired Mueller double with a detachable quad and ease pressure on the gondola.  Sometimes ski resorts go in circles!

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New Plan Lays Out Grand Targhee Growth

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The Caribou-Targhee National Forest recently accepted an updated road map for Grand Targhee Resort, which could eventually result in the western Teton mountain operating as many lifts as the more famous one to the east.  The 2018 Master Development Plan serves as a guide for what could change over the following decades and includes a whopping five new fixed grip chairlifts, four detachable quads and three additional surface lifts.

Like its two Grand Teton neighbors, Targhee is owned by a wealthy family with decades of experience across multiple businesses.  CEO Geordie Gillett is the son of George Gillett, who owned Vail Associates from 1985 until it went public in 1997.  The family went on to create Booth Creek Ski Holdings, which bought Targhee along with seven other resorts coast to coast in the late 1990s.  Booth Creek continues to operate Sierra at Tahoe, California while Mr. Gillett independently operates Grand Targhee, Wyoming.

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Peaked Mountain features one high speed quad today and hopefully will sport a new one soon.

Already analyzed and approved is a Peaked lift servicing terrain above the current Sacajawea detachable quad.  The new high speed lift would rise a respectable 1,829 vertical feet with a capacity of 2,000 skiers per hour, topping out at almost 9,700 feet in elevation.  To me, Peaked Mountain has always felt like an expansion yet to be completed with a lift that ends below some of its best terrain.

Another proposed project within Targhee’s existing permit boundary is the 4,300′ North Boundary fixed grip triple, which would service six gladed trails beyond the new Blackfoot lift.  A second short chairlift called Rick’s Basin would provide access to the North Boundary pod, giving guests a much needed option other than Shoshone on a stormy day.  “This lift will provide better utilization of the terrain at the far north edge of the resort, as well as providing access to intermediate and advanced terrain that is currently not lift-accessed,” notes the plan.

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Instagram Tuesday: Production

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

News Roundup: Ten

  • Garaventa inks a $45 million deal for a 4x funifor, 1x aerial tramway megaproject in Switzerland.
  • Beartooth Basin attempts to crowdfund this spring’s operation, including $35,000 for a required gearbox replacement on Poma 1.
  • An ugly snowmobile-chairlift crash is caught on tape at Sunshine Village.
  • The City of Steamboat will overhaul the Howelsen Hill Poma this summer and plans to replace Barrows around 2021.
  • The Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco and associated aerial tram may reopen as early as June.
  • Disney Skyliner’s nearly 300 ten passenger cabins will come in ten different colors with 22 unique character wraps.
  • The Indy Pass is still adding mountains.
  • With Timberline Resort’s owners unable to find an attorney, a judge postpones a state receivership hearing until May 28th.
  • Leitner will show off updated six passenger chair and Diamond gondola designs at Interalpin.
  • Local businesses leaders are pushing for a high capacity 3S on Burnaby Mountain.
  • Steamboat plans to sell its now retired gondola cabins to other ski resorts around the world for parts.
  • The so-called Balsams bill passes the New Hampshire Senate and is expected to be signed by the governor.

Instagram Tuesday: Turning Around

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

News Roundup: Atria

Mapping Future Lifts on Vail Mountain

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Vail is a mountain which needs no introduction.  The nation’s third largest resort now attracts more than 1.6 million skiers a season, 60 percent of which are destination visitors from around the world.  Owner Vail Resorts has constructed a staggering ten new lifts in the last eleven years at its flagship, including a new 10 passenger gondola and three six place chairlifts.  While the beast may take a brief break to focus on snowmaking and other enhancements this year, a new master plan suggests more big ticket lift investments are coming.

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Today’s Vail spans 5,289 acres with two gondolas, 20 chairlifts and three surface platters.

Already approved for construction is the upper Golden Peak project, consisting of three new trails and a T-Bar above the Riva Bahn angle station.  This lift will be 2,001 feet long with a vertical of 678 feet.  While built for with ski racing in mind, the new pod will be open to the public with a capacity of 1,400 skiers per hour.  Construction is set to begin as soon as this summer.

At the opposite end of Vail’s front side, the last standing of four 1985 detachable quads is Game Creek Express.  This lift is approved to be replaced in the near future with a six person detachable.  It would be Vail’s fourth such lift following upgrades to the Mountaintop, Northwoods and Avanti Express lifts.  Uphill capacity would rise from 2,800 per hour to 3,200 in popular Game Creek Bowl.

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The Wildwood Express, a CTEC dating from 1995, would be replaced with a modern version.  A similar project would swap the two stage Riva Bahn Express (1996 CTEC) for a new model.  Born Free Express, a 1988 Doppelmayr, would also be replaced.  Next door, the Eagle Bahn Gondola is coming up on 25 years of service.  “Given its year-round, day and night operations, freight hauling duties, and limited capacity, the gondola will need a major overall or potentially an upgrade during the life of this plan,” the MDP notes.

Another proposed front side project is the Ever Vail Gondola, which would move 2,400 guests per hour from a new portal west of Lionshead.  This lift was initially planned to terminate above the bottom of the Pride Express lift.  Newer thinking has the gondola replacing that lift as well with an angle station at the current bottom terminal.  With this option, the lift would have a slope length over 9,100 feet, making it the fourth longest on the mountain.  Riders originating in West Lionshead could ascend all the way to Eagle’s Nest without needing to transfer lifts.

The nearby Cascade Village lift, a 1987 CTEC quad servicing Vail’s westernmost trail and the new Hotel Talisa, would be replaced with a detachable quad under the plan.  This project would leave just two remaining fixed grip chairlifts in a sea of detachable technology at Vail.

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In the Back Bowls, the 1988 vintage Orient Express would be replaced with a new high speed quad, increasing throughput from 2,400 to 2,800 in the process.  I am a bit surprised this is not proposed as a six pack.  In fact, Game Creek is the only additional lift set to become a six place chair under this master plan.

A major new lift approved in 2009 but not yet built is called the Sun Down Express.  This high speed, detachable quad would stretch more than 6,000 feet from the bottom of Lift 5 to the top of Lift 7 with a capacity of 2,400 skiers per hour.  Currently, the Sun Up Express and Teacup Express lifts provide egress for over 4,000 acres of terrain, causing congestion on busy afternoons.  Sun Down would become a much-needed reliever.

On the opposite end of Vail’s Back Bowls, the Mongolia Express is proposed to replace the difficult to access Mongolia platter, which opens only some of the time.  At 5,786′ feet long with a vertical of 1,575′, skiers would be able to spread out and lap this high speed quad without needing to return to the Orient Express.

While no new lifts are proposed in Blue Sky Basin, its operational boundary could be expanded both east and west.  A series of new trails are proposed near Pete’s Express along with groomed access to West Earl’s Bowl.

Vail Resorts announces new lifts for its resorts each December and I expect at least one of the many projects in the new master plan will get the green light for 2020.

Instagram Tuesday: Snowy Sierra

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