Towers Take Flight for Big Sky’s Swift Current 6

North America’s fastest six passenger chairlift is on track to open this Thanksgiving at Big Sky Resort. For the past three days, teams from Big Sky, Timberline Helicopters and Doppelmayr placed 23 towers and removed another set from the previous Swift Current quad. The new, conical towers are so burly it took nearly 200 heli trips to complete installation.

Swift Current ranks among North America’s largest new lifts this year and will complement Ramcharger 8, the trailblazing eight place bubble chair on neighboring Andesite Mountain. Swifty 2.0 features the same three ring Doppelmayr Direct Drive motor and 125 Big Sky Blue bubble chairs with heated seats. The previous Swift Current detachable quad will be placed in storage for re-installation somewhere within the Boyne Resorts portfolio.

The nearly complete bottom terminal sits just uphill of the old loading point, freeing up space the base area. The bottom is also no longer the drive station, increasing efficiency and reducing noise in the village. Together with Ramcharger, two D-Line lifts will lift up to 6,600 skiers per hour out of Big Sky’s Mountain Village.

Like at Ramcharger, an indoor parking facility is taking shape adjacent to Swifty’s top terminal, which will will feature 90 degree unloading and totally reimagined flow. Skiers and snowboarders coming from Shedhorn will enjoy a wider skiway around the top terminal instead of dodging unloaders from Swift Current. Snowmaking will reach the top of Swifty for the first time ever this season, a welcome addition to a high traffic spot subject to sun and wind. Come summer, 38 bike carriers will come out of the parking facility and carry four mountain bikes apiece.

Big Sky will now feature four distinct bubble chairlifts on Andesite Mountain, Lone Peak and Spirit Mountain. Along with the Swift Current project, the Lewis & Clark high speed quad is in the process of receiving new blue bubbles and a capacity increase to coincide with the planned Christmas opening of Montage Big Sky.

With seven new lifts in five years, there’s always something exciting going on at Big Sky. As Swift Current 6 nears completion, I can’t help but wonder what this mecca for modern lifts will build next.

30 thoughts on “Towers Take Flight for Big Sky’s Swift Current 6

  1. Leif Kirchoff September 8, 2021 / 8:13 pm

    It is sad to see liftblog give press to a mountain that so freely, as a place of public accommodation, discriminates against and threatens those the management team dislikes. This is a mountain – and management company – that should be ignored and purged from polite conversation.

    Like

    • Donald Reif September 9, 2021 / 8:15 pm

      If you have grievances against the resort, this is not the ideal place to complain.

      Like

    • pbropetech September 9, 2021 / 8:44 pm

      This isn’t exactly ‘press’. This is a writeup of a pretty cool machine being built, nothing more. There is no implied or expressed promotion of the ski area written here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Donald Reif September 10, 2021 / 5:44 am

        Peter isn’t Paul Wanders, after all.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. skiz September 8, 2021 / 8:35 pm

    Are the new Lewis & Clark Bubbles every other or every chair?

    Like

  3. Kevin September 8, 2021 / 8:40 pm

    To whom you are
    This is not the forum to voice your negativity
    This is “lift blog”
    Most of us reading this are “gear head” that are either former or present Ops people
    We have made a choice to live and work we’re we are and our professional creeds will find us a job anywhere tomorrow
    The NEW DLINE lifts that Boyne is installing in NAmerica is totally fascinating and positive for us all
    Take your negativity else where
    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevinsashill September 9, 2021 / 6:22 am

      We live in a time where you can no longer afford to live with your head stuck in the sand Kevin

      You’re being a tool and clearly they’re using you as such.

      Like

  4. Ryan King September 8, 2021 / 8:55 pm

    Peter,

    Thanks for the great write up and pictures. I skied big sky last year for the first time and loved ramcharger. What a cool lift. This will be a welcome addition as swifty accesses quite a bit of the mountain.

    As a side note, what a Rocky Mountain. You can see how much snow this place needs just by looking at these summer pics.

    Like

  5. Alex September 8, 2021 / 9:13 pm

    For some reason I thought i read a rumor about a potential Gondola from the Montage to the top of Andesite Mountain. Does anyone have any confirmation?

    Like

    • ah September 9, 2021 / 5:58 am

      I don’t know what rumor you heard, but there is a plan to build a gondola from the main base area (near where the Explorer lift is) to up where PowderSeeker base is. There are also plans for a new luxury hotel in that area (currently parking) – perhaps that is the rumor you heard?

      Like

    • Myles Svec September 9, 2021 / 1:42 pm

      I have too, Peter mentioned it somewhere.

      Like

  6. ah September 9, 2021 / 6:13 am

    I have to say the chair barn is unfortunately large, even if it’s needed. Kind of a blight on the landscape.

    It doesn’t look like it’s part of the plans, but seems like it could have been a great opportunity for some on-mountain dining up on the top – pretty good views if the weather is nice. Put up some of those lexan walls for wind protection, some chairs, a bar, a burrito stand – could be sweet on nice days. At least make something of it beyond a big block on the mountain.

    Like

    • Muni September 9, 2021 / 5:31 pm

      Yeah totally agree .. stick a resto/cafeteria space on top with floor to ceiling windows and some vaulted ceilings (even a modern approach to vaulted … like a giant slant) … just to give it more architectural character. if it’s gonna sit so prominently …

      Like

    • Donald Reif September 10, 2021 / 11:07 am

      Reminds me of American Flyer a bit.

      Like

  7. Zz September 9, 2021 / 6:18 am

    Big Sky and Montana have become disgusting places.

    Big Sky reeks so bad of gentrification that if you’re not already dead on the inside you can feel your soul rotting just being there.

    Like

    • Ryan Murphy September 9, 2021 / 12:25 pm

      Gentrification normally indicates that trendy wealth has displaced the older inhabitants of a place. I would argue that hasn’t happened at Big Sky, because there have never really been locals there in the first place. It’s a purpose built ski community, not something authentic like Revelstoke, or adapted from an old mining town like Park City. They certainly have chosen to go down the Aspen route, which is a shame, especially with the loss of Moonlight, as it only leaves one local option for those of us with normal incomes. It really is a wonderful mountain, but it’s “slightly inaccessible”, and they have made a deliberate choice to eliminate a lot of the options some of us used, like $29 college day, the Sky Card, much cheaper Moonlight passes, and reducing the number of comp tickets available at local businesses.

      If you want to talk about forced displacement of First Nations, be my guest, but that applies across most of the west, not just to Big Sky. This is historically Crow and Shosone-Bannock land if I recall correctly.

      Like

  8. Dan September 9, 2021 / 1:33 pm

    Very cool. I like this more than ramcharger

    Like

  9. Utah Lost Ski Area Project September 9, 2021 / 4:44 pm

    So what’s going to happen with the existing clear bubble chairs on Lewis & Clark? They look to be in good shape. Possibly could be sold to Yellowstone Club to add to some of their existing lifts?

    Like

    • nedakal September 10, 2021 / 12:44 pm

      Are the new bubble chairs different colors?

      Like

      • Peter Landsman September 10, 2021 / 12:45 pm

        Blue to match the bubbles on Powder Seeker, Ramcharger and Swift Current.

        Like

  10. Munier Salem September 9, 2021 / 5:46 pm

    Not to continue the “negativity” … but Big Sky really takes unaffordable and inaccessible to the next level. Most ski towns either have hostels (e.g. Jackson, Aspen, Park City, Whistler), an enormous inventory that dips into affordable beyond holidays and weekends (e.g. Breckenridge, Park City, Tahoe) or at the very least a bus network that can deliver you from some nearby town to the slopes (e.g. Roaring Fork, both Summit Counties, Little Cottonwood, etc.).

    Not so Big Sky. You can find a semi-reasonable Airbnb down valley if you book ahead far enough. And to be fair, they offer a wagon from the plebes parking lot to the slopes. But there doesn’t seem to have been an attempt to boost hotel inventory at the “biggest skiing in America”. No shame in not “going for volume”. But when run-down motel rooms off the mountain are going for $300+ midweek, something feels … out of whack.

    I exist in the category of skier perhaps most despised by plutocrats and locals alike: the ikon skier. Using my desk job salary to book the occasional flight or road trip to these big destination resorts. Sniffing out the cheapest lodging, but splurging on a nice meal or two. Big Sky seems somewhat OK with my existence … for now. They haven’t ducked onto the “Base+ pass” like Jackson and Aspen yet. And there’s still just enough short term rentals left nearby to sneak in a a few days on an off week without breaking the bank. But that brief taste of exceptional skiing (in the years between the launch of the pass wars and COVID unchaining the glitterati from their desk jobs) appears to be coming towards an end.

    Like

    • skitheeast September 9, 2021 / 6:09 pm

      Big Sky is unique compared to a lot of destinations in that it built itself up as a ski resort. Practically every other western ski resort in the US has a local town that predates the resort, so there is some basic infrastructure that exists and competing existing landowners can build out their own hotels, restaurants, bars, etc. The Big Sky Town Center is an attempt to have some semblance of that, but as someone with development experience, I do not really think it is going to solve the problem with its current plan (which is a shame because it is always fun to design something from scratch).

      The upside of being so isolated is that most “locals” actually live far enough away where they are out of the Big Sky bubble, so they will remain mostly happy as long as free parking exists. However, you are absolutely correct in that Big Sky is an expensive place to go for visitors, and it will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Leif September 9, 2021 / 10:12 pm

        It is unique. I know of no other mountain that trespasses people because the management dislikes them, dislikes their politics, or dislikes social media posts. Even Vail isn’t that petty and that is saying a great deal.

        Like

  11. Mr incredible September 10, 2021 / 1:11 pm

    I don’t understand the criticism that Big Sky is unfriendly to locals. For starters, the nearest town is 45 minutes away. Who are these “locals” that feel dispossessed? Big Sky is a remote, purpose-built ski resort so everyone there is technically either a visitor, a homeowner or a mountain employee. It’s pricey and not friendly to the budget skier but name a major ski resort in the western US that is cheap. Bargain hunters can always ski Red Lodge or Bridger Bowl, places built and operated more for the “locals.”

    I skied Big Sky for the first time last season and came away greatly impressed. Modern infrastructure, friendly employees and a good balance of terrain for all levels of skier (much more balanced than Jackson Hole where I’d skied the previous day, sorry Peter). And the big detach lifts are a welcome addition. I’d always read that Big Sky was the least crowded big resort in the west but there were seriously long lines for Ramcharger, Swifty and the other andesite high speed lifts. If anything, the high capacity lifts aren’t big enough.

    Like

    • Andrew September 14, 2021 / 7:34 pm

      I’m not going to wade into the Boyne, Big Sky, affordability, new crowds, rude visitors, etc. politics, but I will say for those who don’t live here or close to Big Sky that there is a very strong “local” population of people. A K-12 school with 400 students who’s families live here full time, and work and run businesses in the community. Yes almost no one predated the resort, but we’ve lived here for many years and wave at each other, go to soccer and baseball games in the community park, have parades, etc. Certainly these folks have seen a lot of changes and are welcome to opinions.

      Agreed this isn’t the forum for folks to debate politics, but there certainly are locals…. A really cool piece of engineering this lift is!

      Like

  12. Donald Reif September 10, 2021 / 6:31 pm

    Honestly, I think Swift Current’s going to be the more interesting of the two Big Sky D-Lines on account of its roller coaster profile.

    Like

    • ah September 17, 2021 / 6:52 am

      Not sure what makes a lift “interesting” in your mind, but definitely more excited for this one over R8. More “important” lift for accessing the mountain, longer time uphill, often a windy trip, and previously prone to stoppages/mechanicals. Glad this will be done for the upcoming season – Swifty was the lift most in need of replacement (Not that the new RamCharger isn’t great- but the old one did the job much better than old Swifty.)

      Like

  13. Mitchell Feigenbaum September 15, 2021 / 6:14 am

    No ski resort can be all things to all people, but Big Sky’s on-mountain growth and future plans have aligned almost perfectly with my desires as a winter resident. Long lift lines and slow, cold lift rides have always been the worst part of the ski experience. Since the dual upgrades in the Bowl (Powder Seeker) and of Challenger, Boyne’s investment in lifts has been impressive. The Ram, Shedhorn and current Swifty upgrades have enhanced the skiing experience immeasurably.

    Boyne’s long term plans to build a gondola from the base, upgrade T-Wolf, Six Shooter and Dakota, and a re-imagine the Tram portends a great future at Big Sky.

    And, by the way, some versions of the long term plan I’ve seen published have boasted the intention to expand total skiable acreage to 10,000 acres. This will allow the mountain to spread skiers and keep the slopes relatively uncrowded, while offering even more variety to a resort that already offers its loyal patrons seemingly endless route options for skiing.

    Kudos to Boyne and all the people in engineering, operations and maintenance for this commitment to providing a great ski experience.

    Like

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