New York’s state-owned Olympic Regional Development Authority plans to spend a whopping $147 million to upgrade its facilities during 2020 and 2021. Those venues include Belleayre, Gore Mountain, the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex and Whiteface, which together saw three new lifts over the last three years. On Friday, the agency issued a formal request for proposal for three more fixed-grip quad chairlifts to be built over two years.
This summer, both Gore and Whiteface would see new lifts replacing Riblet models. Gore proposes replacing the Sunway double with a fixed quad capable of moving 2,400 guests per hour. The previous lift dates back to 1986. The new alignment would end slightly higher than the current lift, with a 566 foot vertical rise and 3,102 foot slope length. This machine would be bottom drive, bottom tension with a loading carpet.
Also in 2020, Whiteface plans to replace the Bunny Hutch triple with a quad. The current lift opened in 1997 with used Riblet equipment. The new lift would be about 450 feet longer with a vertical rise of 364 feet. This quad would also be bottom drive/bottom tension and may include a loading conveyor.
Following in 2021, Gore would see a replacement for the High Peaks double. The existing lift is a quirky Riblet-CTEC hybrid that experiences long lines during peak times. The new lift would be a bottom drive fixed-grip quad with a design capacity of 2,400 skiers per hour.
No new lifts are planned for Belleayre, understandable considering the Catskills mountain got two of the last three projects. There’s no guarantee ORDA will follow through on these specific plans but the RFP gives us a pretty good idea of the authority’s wish list. Potential suppliers have until March 5th to bid and, if funded and approved, construction would be complete by November 15th of 2020 and 2021.
I don’t know if they’re awarding all 3 lifts to one manufacturer, or splitting them up. If splitting them up, then Whiteface would definitely go Doppelmayr as they’ve done for many years starting with Cloudsplitter (1999), then Facelift (2002), Lookout (2008), and the Little Whiteface upgrade (2011). Doppelmayr is going to be there anyways for the gondola upgrade.
Gore is much more of a wildcard and has worked with different manufacturers over the years. They have 3 CTEC fixed grips, those being Straightbrook (1995), North (1997), and Topridge (2002), so there would be some parts commonality if they went Skytrac. Gore also signed with Poma/Leitner Poma for all 3 detachables starting with Northwoods (1999), Burnt Ridge (2008), and ADK Express (2014), but has never gotten a fixed grip from them. They also have Village (2007) and Hudson (2010) which are both Partek, but from what I’ve heard they don’t like those lifts so it’s unlikely they’ll get another lift from Partek.
So, it really depends on whether they like the Alpha or Monarch better, and I think it’s more likely they would go with the Monarch. It’s also possible that Gore would get their first lifts from Doppelmayr.
I think fixed grip quads are the right lift for all 3 of these locations, and they’ll be a major improvement over the current lifts. However, I don’t like that they’re not doing High Peaks the same year. It’s not unreasonable for a large resort to build two fixed grips the same year, and the Riblet has serious issues and needs much more capacity.
Once these projects are done, the only remaining Riblet in ORDA will be Lift 7 at Belleayre.
Getting the High Peaks chair extended back to the very top will be a big plus.
They should be able to pay for it by auctioning the old chairs – people will be lining up for them. I want one with with parts of my helmet scraped onto the safety bar – I barely fit under the damn thing!
If you use the Lighting Lift at Belleayre as a proxy, replacing any beginner lift with a fixed grip quad is a mistake. Lightning at Belleayre is “Beginner” lift, and having four beginners, side by side, with a loading carpet and gate, and a fixed bull wheel at the exit leads to a huge number of crashes, and has become downright dangerous. There is a crash almost every other chair where one skier takes out everyone on the chair. People are getting seriously injured so much so that they are placing lifties and ski patrol to help people get up and move out of the way when they fall. This has also led to major time problems. Average ride up on a weekend is close to 15 minutes. When I ride with a beginner we have started taking the shuttle to the mid mountain. It is faster….
I had these exact concerns that it would have constant stops on weekends and be a 15 minute ride. I always said it should be a detachable. Seems like I was right.
The unloading ramp is too steep. Hopefully they fix that this summer. They also might want to lower the speed. It has a design speed of 2.3 m/sec and they normally run it at 2.0. Maybe if they dropped it to 1.6-1.8 it would stop less and actually be faster to the top.
Other areas have fixed grip quads for beginners that work out better. Something is very wrong with the Lightning top terminal – the ramp and bullwheel don’t line up right and shorter skiers have a drop to the snow surface. That steep ramp might be iffy anyway but it seems to be built in the wrong place. It’s also so narrow using the outside control stand risks collisions with sprawled beginners… It seems to be universally hated by employees and customers alike.
Skytrac does a much better job on new fixed grip lifts which is unsurprising since… it’s all they do.
Thank god the high peaks is getting replaced. However, I think that one should be replaced first.
It should be done the same year. ORDA CEO Mike Pratt only cares about the highest spending guests, which are typically beginners.