News Roundup: SkyDream

Instagram Tuesday: Mixing Things Up

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

Wasatch Peaks Ranch Targets 2021-22 Opening

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A group of investors plan to begin construction soon on a new 3,000 acre, 3,000′ vertical ski resort just 30 minutes from Salt Lake City.  Unlike at Utah’s 15 existing resorts, skiing at Wasatch Peaks Ranch will be reserved exclusively for investors and homeowners.  The site lies 10 miles south of Snowbasin Resort near the community of Peterson.  Wasatch Peaks recently tapped Bob Wheaton, former head of Deer Valley Resort to be President and CEO of the new venture.  Past Deer Valley owner Lessing Stern is one of 10 investors with more being sought.  Their plan includes building seven lifts, up to 750 housing units and two golf courses.

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Private mountain resorts have a checkered history in the United States.  The Yellowstone Club in Montana has grown to include 20 ski lifts and sold more than $1 billion worth of real estate.  But others in the east such as the Hermitage Club, Plymouth Notch and Otsego Club are now either shut down or open as public areas.

Utah is unique in the West with large swaths of the Wasatch Mountains privately owned.  Even public ski resorts like Deer Valley, Park City and Powder Mountain are located on private land, giving them more freedom to add lifts quickly and develop slopeside real estate.  Wasatch Peaks plans to build in phases based on market demand and fundraising.  Infrastructure construction is planned to begin next summer with the first phase of lifts following in 2021.

News Roundup: Glass Floors

Timberline Sold to Perfect North Slopes

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The largest closed ski area in the Mid-Atlantic will reopen for the 2020-21 ski season pending the successful closing of a deal announced today.  Chip Perfect, President and CEO of Indiana’s Perfect North Slopes, was the second highest bidder for West Virginia’s Timberline Four Seasons Resort with a bid of $2.12 million.  The top bidder at the bankruptcy auction, First Asset Holding, accepted a $30,000 payment to transfer the winning bid to the Indiana ski area.  Mr. Perfect was elected to the Indiana Senate in 2014 and once served as President of the Midwest Ski Areas Association.  Like Timberline, Perfect North Slopes opened in the 1980s and relies on snowmaking to deliver a quality skiing experience.  The Indiana mountain is highly respected with a 40 year history of sustained capital investment.

Timberline Four Seasons closed in the middle of last season and filed for bankruptcy protection on April 30th, listing $2.8 million in liabilities.  The thousand foot tall mountain’s three Borvig and Heron-Poma fixed-grip lifts are in varying states of repair.  A 2016 tower failure which injured nine people was blamed on Timberline’s failure to address a known issue identified by Borvig shortly after construction.

A fresh start will be welcome in Davis, West Virginia, which is also home to state-owned Canaan Valley Resort.  “We are excited to bring our extensive ski area operation experience to the Timberline property,” said Chip Perfect, speaking for his new management group.  “The property has great potential, a stunning West Virginia setting and some fabulous terrain and ski runs.”  West Virginia is currently down to four operating ski areas and the planned return of a fifth is fantastic news.  “Having Perfect North Slopes operating Timberline is great news for skiers and snowboarders and great news for West Virginia’s ski industry,” said Joe Stevens, director of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association. “It’s a top-notch, reputable organization that’s done an outstanding job at developing its ski area in southeastern Indiana, and I look forward to working with them to grow their West Virginia ski operation.”

Instagram Tuesday: Mountain Technology

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

 

News Roundup: A Late Addition

  • Big Sky’s two new lodging access lifts are on the map, bringing The Biggest Skiing in America to 37 lifts.
  • Sasquatch Mountain Resort needs help naming its shiny new Leitner-Poma quad chair.
  • Mont St. Mathieu will expand with a 3,100 foot Doppelmayr surface lift set for commissioning in January 2020.
  • The Sea to Sky Gondola confirms 9 cabins were undamaged in the August incident and will be used to shuttle workers this winter.  With 30 new cabins on the way from Europe, the company will be able to easily take the lift to final capacity (40 cabins) in the future.
  • Crested Butte’s new trail map shows the adjusted Teocalli alignment.
  • In Bolivia, the largest gondola operation in the world reopens following a week of shutdowns due to civil unrest and the resignation of President Evo Morales.  The general manager of the gondola company also resigned.
  • Win Smith of Sugarbush chats with Vermont Public Radio about why now was the right time to sell.
  • Mt. Timothy, BC is officially back in business.
  • On December 9th, Vail Resorts will report fiscal first quarter earnings, traditionally accompanied by guidance on capital investment plans for the year.
  • Thanks to Collin Parsons for these awesome photos of the gondola construction at the Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumping Complex.

 

Gondola to Anchor Redeveloped Site Along Colorado’s Interstate 70

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Photo credit: Andy Colwell via The Colorado Sun

Halfway between Denver and Summit County’s ski resorts, 22 million vehicles a year transit I-70 in the town of Idaho Springs.  Local businesswoman Mary Jane Loevlie sees an opportunity for 400,000 of them to stop and take a gondola ride from the historic Argo Mill and Tunnel to a new summit plaza.  The Colorado Sun reports a group of investors led by Loevlie has partnered with Leitner-Poma to build The Mighty Argo Cable Car, an eight passenger gondola system in what was once a mining boom town.  “We are marrying outdoor recreation and heritage tourism at a reclaimed EPA Superfund site,” said Loevlie at a community gathering yesterday.  “You know what, we are putting the fun in Superfund.”

The concept resembles Silver Mountain, Idaho, a successful public-private partnership that saw construction of a 3.1 mile gondola adjacent to Interstate 90 atop of one of the nation’s largest EPA cleanup sites.  The Colorado project initially focused on constructing a hotel, conference center and stores but morphed to begin with the gondola due to revenue potential.  The 10 minute lift ride would ascend 1,300 vertical feet to a restaurant and park.  Capacity would be 600 visitors per hour, modest by ski lift standards.  Bike carriers would be included for adventurous guests seeking to take advantage of nearby trails.

Local approval for the project is still pending but it’s possible the gondola could launch as soon as next summer.  The Mighty Argo Cable Car would join an elite group of scenic tramways and gondolas across Colorado: the Estes Park Tramway, Glenwood Gondola, Monarch Crest Scenic Tram and Royal Gorge Gondola, all of which were constructed by Leitner-Poma and its predecessor companies.

Alterra to Acquire Sugarbush Resort

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Vermont’s Sugarbush will join the Alterra Mountain Company family of resorts, bringing the two year-old group to 15 mountains.  Sugarbush encompasses Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen, which are connected by a two mile long detachable quad called the Slide Brook Express.  The resort operates a combined fleet of 13 chairlifts from both Doppelmayr and Poma.  “Sugarbush Resort is a premier East Coast mountain destination and we are excited to expand the Alterra Mountain Company family in the Northeast, with Sugarbush joining Stratton in Vermont,” said Rusty Gregory, Chief Executive Officer of Alterra. “Sugarbush has been a partner on the Ikon Pass since its inception and we look forward to the opportunities ahead.”

Win Smith, managing partner of the current ownership group, will stay on and become President and Chief Operating Officer of Sugarbush under Alterra.  “Having been a family-owned resort for nearly two decades, we were keen to find the right next owner of Sugarbush Resort,” said Smith.  “We are delighted that Sugarbush will join the Alterra Mountain Company family, knowing that Alterra Mountain Company will continue to maintain our culture, values and commitment to our community, while bringing additional capital and other resources to make Sugarbush even better in the years ahead.”  Since being acquired from American Skiing Company in 2001, Sugarbush has invested $74 million in mountain improvements including seven new lifts, significant upgrades to snowmaking, and the revitalization of the Lincoln Peak Base area.

Ikon Pass access to Sugarbush will remain limited to five or seven days for the 2019-20 season.  It is likely to become unlimited for 2020-21 like at most other Alterra-owned resorts.  Mountain Collective access will remain unchanged for this season.  The transaction is expected to close in the fist quarter of 2020.

Instagram Tuesday: Fixed Grip

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