News Roundup: Ramping Up

High Speed Quad Coming to 49 Degrees North

The largest ski resort in the United States without a detachable lift is taking the plunge. 49 Degrees North today announced Doppelmayr will build a base to summit high speed quad chair this summer replacing the Bonanza #1 double. This transformative project will bring Washington’s second largest ski area into the 21st century. β€œAn undertaking of this magnitude has been years in the making and we are excited to finally be able to share this news,” said Rick Brown, Director of Skier and Rider Services. “We want to thank our guests for their continued support and enthusiasm throughout the years and look forward to continuing to provide truly memorable mountain experiences for all.”

The detachable quad will span 6,644 feet, making it the longest chairlift in Washington State. It will rise approximately 1,850 vertical feet to Chewelah Peak with a ride time of just six and a half minutes. The yet-to-be-named lift will be installed with 900 horsepower, making it one of the largest projects in the country this year.

49 North’s new lift is expected to be completed in advance of the 2021/22 season, at which time Montana’s Discovery will become the largest US ski area without a high speed lift.

News Roundup: Exceptional Ride

On the Black Quad lift front, there always seems to be something. And, the engineering firm who designed the lift has come back with quite a few changes that need to be implemented by Pfister Mountain Services, including changing out some sheave assembly wheel combinations at a few towers and a major overhaul of tower 13 cross arm and uphill sheave assembly. None of this is a quick fix at this point in our construction phase and comes as unwelcome news. And, of course, tower 13 is in a very difficult spot to get to, especially for what equipment will be needed to execute the cross arm changes. No timetable or budget as been provided as of yet. We will continue to keep you posted as news warrants. Certainly frustrating after all this time as we’d like to see our money put to good use for you. All I can say is that the Quad will be a part of our future here at Magic so we can expand uphill capacity and lift redundancy as we grow.

Chair Pileup Shutters Big Squaw

Multiple chairs slipped this afternoon at Maine’s Big Squaw Mountain, necessitating a rope evacuation of the Donaher triple. Pictures show at least three groups of chairs spaced at abnormal intervals on the light side of the lift. Sam Shirley was on the triple chair at the time and provided me with the below account and pictures.

“I was riding the triple at Big Squaw around 1:00 when I noticed chairs coming down which had slid into each other. About two minutes later, the lift stopped. We were told that there was a partial derailment on the downhill side near the summit (likely tower 9 or 10).  I’m not sure what caused the chairs to slide into each other or why the lift didn’t stop immediately. Maybe they were catching in something or hitting a tower. Everyone was evacuated by rope within an hour and the staff did a great job. They had three different teams evacuating people. We were given vouchers to use later in the season.”

Sam Shirley

Donaher is a 1986 Borvig triple rising 587 vertical feet. An organization called Friends of Squaw Mountain operates the lift on a nonprofit basis. Back in 2004, another chair-slipping incident caused multiple injuries on the Thompson double. In that case, one of the chairs fell to the ground rather than remaining on the rope. The Stadeli-built lift never reopened but a Louisiana-based investor recently joined with a Maine developer in hopes of revitalizing the mountain with new lifts, a hotel and summer activities.

Thankfully there were no injuries reported today. It was only the mountain’s fourth day operating this season due to snow conditions and the lift opened later than normal because of cold temperatures. Big Squaw will remain closed at least through the holiday weekend.

News Roundup: So Close

News Roundup: Middle of Winter