MND Ropeways to Build First US Detachable at Waterville Valley

Waterville Valley Resort and MND Ropeways have inked a deal to bring a first-of-its-kind chairlift to New Hampshire. The six place bubble lift will replace the White Peaks Express, in operation since 1988. One hundred chairs designed by Porsche Design Studio will carry 3,000 skiers per hour along a 5,700 foot alignment.

Waterville Valley and MND previously collaborated to install three surface lifts and more than 400 snow guns. “We have been partners with Waterville Valley Resort since 2017 and are pleased to be continuing our collaboration,” noted Xavier Gallot-Lavallée, Chairman and CEO of MND. “This project will expand our position in the U.S. market by building our first detachable ropeway transportation system in the United States.”

The $9 million, 845 horsepower machine will become one of the largest bubble lifts in the East. “Replacing our White Peaks lift is the most important project in our investment plan for the existing resort footprint, and we will continue our work to enhance the guest experience at Waterville Valley Resort,” said President and General Manager Tim Smith. “This lift represents the best technology in the market today and we are pleased to extend our partnership with MND.”

MND Ropeways has built lifts in more than 40 countries to date. German Peter Loipolder founded the company as LST (Loipolder Seilbahn Technik) in 1989. Following Mr. Loipolder’s 2011 death, the French conglomerate MND (which translates in English as Mountain and Snow Development) acquired LST, moving manufacturing to the French Alps. MND went public on the Euronext Growth exchange in 2013 and constructed its first detachable chairlift in 2016. By 2019, the firm pivoted to a partnership with Bartholet Maschinenbau Flums (BMF) of Switzerland, allowing MND to utilize Bartholet’s detachable technology. MND has been present in the United States for 10 years with a main office in Eagle, Colorado and a satellite location in Laconia, New Hampshire.

A third player entering the North American detachable lift business is a big deal. The last time three companies offered detachables here was pre-2002, when Doppelmayr merged with Garaventa. Competition is good for ski resorts and ultimately the skiing and snowboarding public.

White Peaks is a turnkey project with MND providing design, project management, equipment fabrication, construction, installation, start-up and operator training. Foundations for Waterville’s six pack will be poured this year with steel erection taking place next summer. Commissioning is slated for the fall of 2022.

51 thoughts on “MND Ropeways to Build First US Detachable at Waterville Valley

  1. Myles Svec April 19, 2021 / 10:39 am

    I wonder where MND will build detachable lifts in the US. Cannon Mountain would be a good place as they have bought from LST before but I am not sure if they would have enough money to do so.

    Like

    • xlr8r April 19, 2021 / 3:31 pm

      Cannon is not going to need any new chairlifts for a number of years.

      Like

      • skitheeast April 19, 2021 / 3:53 pm

        Need is a strong word. Cannon needs a number of investments to make it more competitive in the New England market. It will likely not receive those investments for a number of years.

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        • xlr8r April 19, 2021 / 5:59 pm

          Cannon does pretty well, and has a good customer base. It is state run, which means it isn’t run financially like other resorts. Lift wise the only lift that should be a detachable is Peabody which already is and has plenty of life left (though it desperately needs a paint job). Mittersill does not have the trail capacity for a detachable and works well with the double, I have never seen it have a line. Zoomer, Tuckerbrook, Cannonball, and Eagle Cliff all are short and have plenty of life left. There is no place to expand, so chairlift wise I think Cannon is set for the next 10 years or so. The lift investment in the near term will be replacing the tram cars in the next couple years

          Liked by 1 person

  2. skitheeast April 19, 2021 / 11:10 am

    This is excellent news! A third player in the detachable market is definitely needed in North America, and Waterville Valley is a great place to launch given their lack of ties to either Doppelmayr or LPA. Also, it is smart of them to pour foundations this year before constructing the rest of the lift next summer. I wish more resorts did this, as it helps ensure the lift is ready for opening day.

    Like

    • N April 19, 2021 / 11:28 am

      Didn’t big sky also pour the foundations for Swift Current last summer? It is a great idea to pour foundations beforehand. It is great to see a third player in the detachable market.

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      • Todd April 19, 2021 / 12:38 pm

        Big Sky did pour some tower foundations on the upper 2/3 of the new line and they poured the top terminal foundations

        Like

  3. Cameron DeLouis April 19, 2021 / 11:33 am

    Awesome! I sure will miss the now old white peaks quad though. I’ve always had a fascination with the older poma detachables. Aren’t there only three types of those Poma D-Quad models in North America?

    Like

    • Ryan Murphy April 19, 2021 / 1:56 pm

      Yes, White Peaks at Waterville, Rainer Express (REX) at Crystal WA, and Angel at Sunshine.

      Like

  4. Myles Svec April 19, 2021 / 11:33 am

    Is there an indoor parking center for the chairs too? It was not mentioned in the article.

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  5. Joe S April 19, 2021 / 11:47 am

    The bubbles are definitely a welcomed addition along with the added capacity. This lift can get very cold and crowded.

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  6. themav April 19, 2021 / 11:50 am

    It finally happened. Wow, just wow.

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  7. Marc April 19, 2021 / 12:04 pm

    It would be interesting to ask the question to the resort: how can you trust a manufacturer that did 40k of sales revenue and a negative profit of 57k in 2020 and negative 65k in 2019 based on their financial release (on their website as they are publicly traded). –> if someone can confirm as all their documents are in French.

    It seems a bit risky to me (?)… especially for products that are supposed to last years with manufacturer support.

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    • Rick Choo April 19, 2021 / 1:29 pm

      Here are some details about MND and the current state of affairs as seen from their website and searching the web.

      The MND group has demonstrated its capacity to conduct mountain infrastructure development projects in the areas of transport, security, snow and leisure in many countries.
      For example, MND works with many USA state transportation departments to make sure public highways are safe from avalanche risks. Large and complicated projects.

      Concerning strategy, MND is now engaged in a strategic plan for operational excellence, client experience and controlled growth. The cable transport sector is at the heart of the group’s strategy and MND supports the implementation of major lift projects through its strategic alliance with the Bartholet manufacturer.

      A few recent cases of projects made by the manufacturer MND:
      In 2020, a Telemix was made in Vaujany, a detachable gondola (one of the highest in France) was also completed in 2019 in Les 2 Alpes, Compagnie des Alpes ski resort. This is not the first time MND and Waterville have come together as MND implemented a comprehensive project including two conveyor lifts, a summit serving Tbar and a complete snow system of over 400 snowguns.

      Like

      • Abby April 20, 2021 / 9:03 am

        The snow guns that didn’t work with NH water (required an expensive filter system upgrade) and from a company that shipped a container of snow gun parts to Israel (allegedly) missing the first ski season they were promised to be operational. My first thought was yeah! Then ugh, another foray into EU tech that hasn’t been proven here. I want to be proven wrong and I love WV, execution hasn’t been as promised except for the Freestyle Lounge.

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    • Marc April 19, 2021 / 6:23 pm

      Oh yes it is Million my bad!!

      Definitely don’t deny the expertise of the group, especially for mountain security equipment (avalanche). But in the current World such numbers would worry me, for the long term, after the construction. In many industries it would be hard to keep going. And the share price (from your link) kinda reflects it (€ 0.0893!).

      Let’s hope it will still work for Waterville Valley.

      Like

  8. pnwrider April 19, 2021 / 12:36 pm

    It’s so great to see additional competition in North America for the first time in nearly 20 years! I feel like with the two major companies LPA & Doppelmayr dominating things, there really hasn’t been that much innovation over the years in my opinion.

    Wasn’t MND the company that designed a detachable chairlift (or at least a grip) capable of operating at up to 1,400fpm? I feel like I read that here on Liftblog at some point.

    Like

  9. pnwrider April 19, 2021 / 12:39 pm

    Now, we must bring Yan Lift Engineering back lol

    Like

    • Mayo April 19, 2021 / 12:50 pm

      Let’s make a realistic solution. We all know that Kunczynski is never coming back because he is basically hiding in Mexico to avoid prosecution. Also he is like 80 years old. For it to come back it would need a huge rebrand and new modern designs. Plus there would need to be a way to clear it of its past accidents. It has like a 0.000001% chance of coming back but it is possible.

      Liked by 1 person

      • pnwrider April 19, 2021 / 3:25 pm

        Oh I’m aware. Bringing YAN back is a pipe dream, but one could only wonder how much of the market they would posess and what their designs would be like today, if they were still around. Until their company kicked the bucket, they were absolutely competitive with Poma & Doppelmayr.

        I think Kunczynski is hiding in Mexico to avoid prosecution for an incident far more recent than the Quicksilver Express at Whistler. I think it was a derailing of a Funicular railway in San Francisco that resulted in one or two fatalities?

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        • Myles Svec April 19, 2021 / 3:31 pm

          Yan’s terminal designs were ahead of their time when they were being built. It makes me think of what they could have became today if they were still around.

          Like

        • Ryan April 19, 2021 / 4:24 pm

          No thank you. Good riddance to Yan. When a big wig runs away to avoid accepting the consequences of their actions, I want nothing to do with that company any more.

          Like

        • Danny Bryant April 20, 2021 / 2:21 pm

          As of 2018, he was residing in Washoe Valley, Nevada. Don’t ask me how I know, but I did talk to him on the phone for a business transaction.

          Like

  10. Kevin Ratcliffe April 19, 2021 / 1:23 pm

    I am sure Waterville must be getting one hell of deal As for the need to do concrete one season and the steel is great if you are not replacing an existing lift alignment but really not necessary
    The year of the huge project at Sugarbush we took out 6 lifts Relocated the a Poma fix grip quad and one detach Quad Then one New Doppelmayr fix grip Quad, and three Detach Quads one of them being the Slide Brock Monster
    The original contact was supposed to be a three year project but then Les Otten decided he wanted to do it all in one season!!!
    We started on the 4 of August, were not allowed to work for I think a month on the Slide Brook foundations because that area is a Bear Habitat yet it was open for hunting with dogs!
    ALL the lifts were up and running for Xmas
    What a great construction season that was

    Like

  11. carletongebhardt April 19, 2021 / 1:58 pm

    In the database it lists White Peaks at 7500′ long, but this says 5700′. They have to be terminating in the same areas. It also looks like almost 40 fewer chairs?

    Like

    • Peter Landsman April 19, 2021 / 2:06 pm

      The current White Peaks went up higher when it was first built. The top terminal got moved 1,800 feet downhill due to wind issues. The top is now serviced by an MND T-Bar.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. julestheshiba April 19, 2021 / 3:18 pm

    I wish YAN never screwed the pooch. They had so much potential and were far ahead of European designs at the time. It is just too bad that we don’t have any US-made detachable. It also sucks how Partek never got to designing theirs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Myles Svec April 19, 2021 / 3:34 pm

      Riblet also attempted to design a detachable at one point. The original Palmer at Timberline was supposed to be a Riblet detachable but they couldn’t figure out how to de attach and reattach the grips to the cable fast enough.

      Like

      • Utah Powder Skier April 19, 2021 / 5:53 pm

        If Riblet was able to make a clip grip detachable, it would be very easy to convert previously built Riblet fixed grips allowing for detachable lifts for smaller mountains.

        Like

    • Myles Svec April 19, 2021 / 3:44 pm

      Also didn’t YAN only take a year to design their detachables? If they took an extra year they probably would have found problems in their rubber grips, cast aluminum sheaves, etc.

      Like

  13. Calvin April 19, 2021 / 3:37 pm

    Has MND completed a project on time without issues? The Waterville T-Bar was heavily delayed. The Cannon T-Bar was heavily delayed with some big issues as well.

    A mighty gamble considering the other ways to the top are a rickety old triple on its last legs and a double in worse shape.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Landsman April 19, 2021 / 4:26 pm

      This year’s MND T-Bar in Idaho was completed on schedule. Installed by Highlander.

      Part of the issue at Cannon was Leitner-Poma buying Skytrac half way through the project. Originally MND and Skytrac were going to be friends.

      Like

      • vons3 April 19, 2021 / 7:38 pm

        Skytrac also had to Get MND to modify the lift to meet ANSI B77

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Kirk April 19, 2021 / 4:20 pm

    Competition and new player in town is not a bad thing. Parts, service and support are always somewhat of a question when dealing directly with Europe, especially these days.

    Like

  15. Kirk April 19, 2021 / 4:37 pm

    The Yan detachable grip was a disaster for several reasons, Could have a whole discussion just on that subject.
    Yan did have some innovative ideas over the years.
    First planetary gearbox 1978.
    RPD, rope position detector.
    2 leg detachable terminal
    Driving the accelerator / decelerator off the haulrope.
    VFD spacing.
    Modular machine room construction electrical and APU prewired and in place, fixed grip.
    Built own drive / controls that lasted many years, fixed grip.

    Lots of good stuff early on in the fixed grip days, lots of ugly stuff in the detachable last days.

    Like

  16. Collin Parsons April 19, 2021 / 5:51 pm

    When I saw that the chairs were are being designed by Porsche, I laughed, remembering Steve Kircher’s statement that each chair on Ramcharger cost “more than a Porsche”. I’m sure that when Waterville Valley opens their new lift, it’ll go something like this: “Now Loon can say the chairs on Kanc 8 cost more than a Porsche, but the chairs on our lift were designed by Porsche. Take that Boyne”.

    Like

  17. Utah Powder Skier April 19, 2021 / 5:55 pm

    Does MND have a ropeway configurator just like Doppelmayr and Leitner-Poma?

    Like

    • Kirk April 20, 2021 / 8:15 am

      Yeah, Teller lift style Drive Bullwheels were welded then machined. Turns out that most of the upper bullwheel hub weld was machined off, no quality control!! Unbelievable mistake.

      GM hubs sheave hubs would fail on the detachables, but worked OK the on slower fixed grips. There are quite a few of the GM hubs still in operation today on fixed grips.

      Like

  18. Tom White April 20, 2021 / 5:49 am

    As discussed on the Storm Skiing Podcast, this could be a move toward a MND gondi. This partnership is good for both. Obviously if MND is going to be a “detachable player” in North America, they need exposure and success. A gondi connect between the mountain (Green Peak) and the village would make overnight stays more attractive. I doubt actual ride time for the shuttle bus and gondi is any different. But no waiting on either end and the aerial ride would be appealing. Plus, gondolas have year-round appeals. Although, unlike Loon, Wildcat, Cannon and now Bretton Woods, this gondi won’t go to a summit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • meirk April 20, 2021 / 2:06 pm

      While an MND gondola is an exciting and marketable development, the default Batholet (Gangloff) cabin today is certainly the kind that raises strong opinions (I find it ugly and I think I’m not the only one). Does MND/Batholet offer non native cabin options?

      Like

  19. Max Hart April 20, 2021 / 8:20 am

    Seems to me like this is a joint venture between BMF and MND, as in it’s a BMF machine being installed by MND.

    Like

    • Peter Landsman April 20, 2021 / 9:11 am

      I think MND manufactures at least some parts of the Bartholet-designed lifts it sells.

      Does anyone know if Nippon Cable manufactures Doppelmayr designs in Japan? Or do they just sell and import lifts from Austria? Perhaps a similar arrangement to the Bartholet/MND one.

      Like

      • Chris April 20, 2021 / 10:31 am

        I have no hard facts, but given that Nippon Cable kept building lifts using components long after they were last used in Europe and limited itself to just a few types as far as I can tell I’m pretty sure they build a lot locally. The only recent lift (a UNI-G quad) looked very much like current standard fare, so this might have changed in the last 20 years after the big ski resort boom in Japan in the 90s and early 2000s ebbed down and not a lot of lifts were constructed for a while.

        Like

        • australian April 21, 2021 / 6:51 am

          Nippon Cable isn’t the only one who uses Doppelmayr designs alongside local ones.

          Doppelmayr Australia seems to mix and match European and US designs, and has even used custom designs for towers and chair slats over the years. From 1988 to 1994, Doppelmayr Australia also used custom corrugated iron enclosures on its detachables instead of the standard skins. All Doppelmayr Australia fixed grip lifts used these custom skins from the 1970s all the way up until the late 1990s. They also completely avoided CTEC and Garaventa designs, prefering instead to modify Euro designs and use them instead. As it currently stands, Doppelmayr Australia uses Euro terminals, cabins and towers, but US chairs and controls. Only one lift uses both Doppelmayr and Garaventa technology – a 3S built in 2013.

          Riblet is somewhat similar in that out of the three lifts it built in Australia, two had custom lattice towers to emulate Mueller instead of the standard Riblet towers.

          Doppelmayr New Zealand, on the other hand, imports lifts straight from the US. Leitner-Poma AU/NZ does the same.

          Like

  20. pbropetech April 20, 2021 / 8:57 am

    Funny how we were just discussing this on another thread yesterday. I’ll be watching this project with interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Tyler Baroody May 5, 2021 / 5:49 pm

    The new sixpack may fail due to wind issues. Even with 37 fewer chairs, the new ones will be gripped by the wind more often. They should bring back Northside (decommissioned last season) and install a quad where the World Cup Triple was, but long enough to reach Northside.

    Like

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