With ambitious improvement plans recently crafted for Big Sky and Loon Mountain, Boyne Resorts has turned to updating its capital spending vision for Sunday River, Maine. Spanning eight peaks in the beautiful Mahoosuc Mountains, Sunday River offers more than 50 miles of trails and a beast of a snowmaking system. Though the terrain and scenery are top notch, many lifts were installed during the American Skiing Company boom years and are showing their age. The plan prescribes replacing at least six lifts and building a lift-served real estate development on a ninth mountain called Merrill Hill over the next ten years.
Lift wise in the short term, the two biggest priorities are Barker Mountain and Jordan Bowl. The former is no surprise as the Barker Mountain Express was originally built by Lift Engineering and converted to a quasi-Poma high speed quad decades ago. While no specific model was specified, I expect the replacement will be a six or eight place signature lift. The Jordan Bowl Express is newer, built by Doppelmayr in 1994, but also ripe for up-gauging given the vast amount of terrain it services. Another near term project is the Merrill Hill lift, providing access to a new ski-in, ski-out neighborhood near North Peak. During this phase, the White Cap quad is slated to gain a loading conveyor to increase speed and efficiency.
After those projects, Sunday River is targeting the White Cap and North Peak lifts for replacement. The former is a 1987 Yan fixed grip quad with a ride time in excess of 10 minutes. North Peak is a 1997 Doppelmayr detachable quad.
Near the end of the 2030 plan, the Aurora Peak and South Ridge lifts would be addressed. Aurora is another Yan fixed grip that moves very slowly. It’s newer than White Cap, having been installed in 1991 as one of Yan’s last-ever installations. South Ridge is one year newer and was built by Poma. Not all of these installations will necessarily be brand new machines. Boyne plans to shuffle lifts within and between resorts in the coming years, including the outgoing Swift Current from Big Sky and Kancamagus at Loon Mountain. The company also wants to purchase the bubble six place lift from the Hermitage Club, which would go to one of Boyne’s three northeast mountains.
The Sunday River 2030 vision includes more than just lifts. RFID ticketing technology will be implemented resort-wide. An observation deck on North Peak and mountain coaster are planned. At the top of the already spectacular Jordan Bowl pod, a signature summit restaurant is envisioned.
Looking at the history of Sunday River, it’s quite remarkable how many lifts and terrain expansions Les Otten was able to complete before American Skiing Company ran out of cash. Otten purchased 18 different chairlifts and grew the resort from 40,000 skier visits to more than a half million annually. Boyne’s plan will build on that success, replacing up to six lifts and adding another peak. “We are incredibly grateful for our guests, our team, and the Boyne Resorts family for helping to guide and determine our future,” noted Sunday River President and General Manager Dana Bullen. “The next decade will be one of the most transformational in our 60-year history, assuring that Sunday River will remain one of the top resorts in the Northeast.”
Hope that barker 6 or 8 comes in 2021
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Even better if it comes this year.
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Hopefully that lift gets replaced this year. It can break down any time now.
Replacing Barker is a no-brainer, glad to see that that is finally officially out there.
I know that Jordan has been having some gearbox problems lately, but I’m surprised that they want to replace the entire lift unless they intend to replace it purely for wind tolerance, which would make a lot of sense (it’s pretty well protected except for the last two spans, which has no protection from the wind regardless of its direction). It would make for a good used installation (White Cap?).
A North Peak replacement of any kind also seems a bit off… those mid-1990s Doppelmayr Uni detachables were some of the best lifts ever built. It is pretty exposed for the last four or five spans, so maybe this is purely for comfort. Again, it’s another lift with a lot of life left in it.
I can see Aurora as being up for replacement, and perhaps said replacement will be a bit more wind tolerant than the current lift. It would also be a very good used installation.
South Ridge was also a bit of a surprise, but it isn’t exactly a spring-chick anymore either (that’s another lift that could make for a good used installation elsewhere).
The 2030 plan looks pretty good. It will be interesting to see how it is implemented and how it evolves throughout its implementation.
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I think SR wants to relocate the North Peak quad to better suit another area, the most likely being either White Cap or Aurora.
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I assume the reason they are replacing North Peak and White Cap at the same time is to move the old North Peak Express to White Cap. Those late 90s UNI-Spacejets are very reliable, so I see no reason why they wouldn’t reuse it.
Note that the plan does not mention the Locke Mountain Triple. It’s the oldest lift on the mountain and is the last Borvig. It will probably need to be replaced before 2030 (with Sunday River’s modern lifts), though I’m not sure if the trails will be able to handle more capacity as most of it’s terrain is served by Barker.