Mt. Sunapee Master Plan Includes Lift System Overhaul

Vail Resorts recently submitted an updated improvement plan for Mt. Sunapee to the State of New Hampshire which includes construction of five new chairlifts and two surface lifts. Most transformative would be the West Bowl expansion, including a mile long high speed quad and 1,082 feet of vertical. This would be Mt. Sunapee’s second longest lift, servicing five new trails. West Bowl would also feature a new beginner conveyor, parking and guest services building.

Vail also plans to upgrade the Sunapee Express to a six pack or combination lift with gondola cabins capable of moving 3,000 guests per hour. The existing high speed quad opened in 1998 and is undersized for the amount of terrain it services.

As planned by Triple Peaks before the 2018 Vail purchase, the North Peak triple would be replaced by a fixed grip quad. The nearby Spruce triple is also slated to be upgraded to a fixed quad, compensating for Vail’s recent removal of the Duckling double. It’s possible one of these two lifts would utilize equipment from the former Sunbowl quad, which remains in storage on site.

The Sunapee Express would become a six place chairlift or gondola/chair combination lift under a new master plan for Mt. Sunapee.

A new triple chair would be be built to connect the bottom of Sunbowl to North Peak. Known as Cataract, this lift would service a modest amount of new terrain and improve skier circulation. Rather than purchasing new, Vail may opt to re-use equipment from the North Peak and/or Spruce triples for Cataract.

A rope tow is proposed to link Parking Lot 2 and Spruce Lodge, reducing the resort’s reliance on shuttle buses. Finally, Vail seeks to add a grip maintenance building and carrier storage for the Sunbowl Express.

The plan would increase Mt. Sunapee’s comfortable carrying capacity by 40 percent to 6,850 skiers. Most of the proposed projects were previously approved during Triple Peaks ownership, though a few are new. A public meeting will be held Thursday evening to solicit comments or you can submit them to MountSunapeeComments@dncr.nh.gov. The deadline to weigh in is November 12th.

9 thoughts on “Mt. Sunapee Master Plan Includes Lift System Overhaul

  1. skitheeast November 2, 2020 / 1:34 pm

    I am really happy to see Vail picking up where Triple Peaks left off and investing in Mt. Sunapee (after putting forth several Okemo investments last year). I know there were concerns that West Bowl would not end up happening after having been teased for a while, but it is good to see it remain in the works. I also really like the smaller upgrades, like the Cataract lift to help get people out of the base of Sunbowl and the parking lot rope tow. It is not quite as great as the cabriolets seen at Winter Park, Park City, and elsewhere out west, but it is definitely an improvement over the shuttles. My only thought is that I think upgrading North Peak to a detachable quad would alleviate Sunapee’s lines and not require it to be upgraded, but I understand why they have proposed this instead.

    Vail could really do most of these upgrades with a bit of shuffling and save a lot of money if they really wanted. Install a new Sunapee Express six-pack or chondola, while moving the existing equipment over to West Bowl. Then, put a new fixed-grip quad for Spruce and move its existing equipment to become the new Cataract lift. Finally, use the old Sunbowl lift to replace North Peak. That would yield five upgrades with only two entirely new lifts.

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    • New England Chairlifts & Skiing November 2, 2020 / 7:13 pm

      It is, nobody really knew if vail would want to do west bowl, but turns out they do!

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      • Peter Landsman November 2, 2020 / 7:18 pm

        I would caution that a plan is just that. There’s no guarantee any of these projects will be implemented as described. But it is encouraging they are considering making upgrades.

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    • skitheeast November 2, 2020 / 9:03 pm

      I read through the plan and will add that they state the old Sunbowl Quad will be the lift that replaces North Peak and that North Peak will likely be used for Cataract.

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  2. Thomas Jett November 2, 2020 / 5:03 pm

    It’s good to see Vail interested in investing in some of their smaller properties. Now if only they’d show their CA resorts some love.

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    • Truckee Local November 5, 2020 / 2:55 pm

      Wait, you mean replacing Galaxy at Heavenly with another slow lift two years ago, installing the relatively useless Promised Land at Northstar nine years ago, and aggressively ignoring Kirkwood isn’t enough?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Calvin November 2, 2020 / 6:47 pm

    >The existing high speed quad opened in 1998 and is undersized for the amount of terrain it services.

    Is it though? Long lines ≠ undersized. Every time I’ve been there on weekends the trails on the main face are heavily scraped off quite early.

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  4. Mike B November 4, 2020 / 12:26 pm

    One small correction in an otherwise fantastic update – I don’t believe the West Bowl lift would be Sunapee’s longest. The Sunapee Express is 6,056′ per the MDP update document you linked to, so it would be about 1,000′ longer than any West Bowl lift.

    Also, as an aside, I find the planned location for the summit terminal to be disappointing in that it wouldn’t allow for egress from West Bowl to the Sun Bowl pod. Everyone will need to funnel down to the main base and then take Sunapee Express or North Peak up and over. Could potentially address that by creating a traverse from Upper Ridge crossing Blast Off and cutting through Summit Glades, Bonanza and West Side before finally making it to East Side, but that seems unlikely/unwise from a traffic flow and safety perspective.

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