Vail Resorts to Build New Lifts at Attitash, Breckenridge & Stevens Pass in 2023

Vail Resorts today released quarterly financial results and previewed three signature lift installations for 2023 construction season. The newly-announced projects will follow the record 21 new lifts currently under construction as part of the 2022 Epic Lift Upgrade.

Season pass sales are trending up for the 2022-23 season, increasing approximately 9 percent in units and 11 percent in sales dollars from the year prior as of May 31st. This past season, approximately 72 percent of all Vail Resorts 2021/2022 North American skier visitation was on a pass product. The company noted visitation on weekday and non-holiday periods increased approximately 8 percent last season while visitation on weekend and holiday periods decreased 3 percent, excluding Peak Resorts visitation in both periods. “We believe this trend is driven by the growth in pass sales as pass holders tend to spread their visitation more across the season, and, with the increase in flexible and remote work, we expect this trend to continue,” the company said. Vail is continuing to build new lifts across its portfolio in an effort to increase capacity and improve the ski experience.

Attitash skiers will be thrilled to learn the Summit triple is slated for replacement in 2023. A detachable quad will increase uphill capacity and reduce ride time on the longest lift at the resort. Attitash is also getting a fixed grip quad this summer to replace the mountain’s Borvig double doubles. When both projects are complete, five of Attitash’s seven chairlifts will be quads.

At Breckenridge, 5-Chair will be replaced by a detachable quad in 2023. Redevelopment of the Peak 8 base area will include new teaching terrain and a transport carpet to make the beginner experience more accessible. The new 5-Chair combined with a new Rip’s Ride being constructed this summer will mean all five lifts at the Peak 8 base will be detachable.

Finally at Stevens Pass, a fixed grip quad will replace Kehr’s chair, a Riblet dating back to 1964. This is the third new chairlift for Vail Resorts at Stevens and will improve out-of-base capacity.

Vail is investing approximately $320 million across its resorts this season for improvements. “Vail Resorts will have invested over $2 billion in capital since launching the Epic Pass, increasing capacity, improving the guest experience and creating an integrated resort network,” the company noted. Additional calendar year 2023 investments and upgrades will be announced in the coming quarters.

31 thoughts on “Vail Resorts to Build New Lifts at Attitash, Breckenridge & Stevens Pass in 2023

  1. Evilcamels June 9, 2022 / 3:00 pm

    Sad to see Big Chief go, a quad will be meaningless for out-of-base capacity during AM crowds if Double Diamond remains closed until 9:30 on openings. Plus side is that 7th will get more spare parts

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  2. Myles Svec June 9, 2022 / 3:05 pm

    First off, I’m quite surprised Vail is announcing lifts for next year this early. This is the earliest they have ever announced ski lifts. It makes me wonder if this announcement has to do something with the incredible amount of orders for next year.

    Second, Breckenridge upgrading 5 is a great idea. Upgrading 5 will allow it to siphon traffic from Colorado Superchair like how the Freedom Superchair siphons traffic from independence. Also if Colorado Superchair goes down you have an alternate route to Vista Haus, Lift 6, etc. by taking 4 O’clock to Sawmill and then taking the cutoff to the Peak 8 super connect’s midstation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Donald Reif June 9, 2022 / 3:22 pm

      It also means that beginners stepping up from the Rip’s Ride pod will still have a detachable option before they’re ready for the Colorado and Rocky Mountain SuperChairs.

      And it’ll undoubtedly make traveling up to the Alpine Slide a bit more efficient. (That’s what most intrigues me; how Breck decides to handle the summer midstation)

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  3. Donald Reif June 9, 2022 / 3:09 pm

    Upgrading Lift 5 is definitely going to do wonders in siphoning traffic from the Colorado SuperChair, moreso than this year’s replacement of Lift 7.

    What will be interesting is how Breck will deal with the summer midstation for the Alpine Slide, since that’s Lift 5’s summer purpose. Will they do a midway turn station? Or will they just do a half midstation?

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    • Myles Svec June 9, 2022 / 3:52 pm

      If they were to do a half midstation I would guess it would be something like the half station on flying mile at Tremblant which is a non-detachable midstation so the lift would be ran slower for summer operations.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Donald Reif June 10, 2022 / 7:19 pm

        The reason I think it could be a turn station is because the current Lift 5 has a turn with canted sheaves right below the Alpine Slide midstation. (This turn exists because the lower part of the lift was realigned in 1986 when the Colorado SuperChair was built) Such a midstation would also avoid the need to have to demolish the building that resides there.

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        • skitheeast June 10, 2022 / 10:46 pm

          An angle station would be millions of dollars more and they could avoid that building altogether by moving the lift’s base or summit terminal by less than 100 feet.

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        • Donald Reif June 13, 2022 / 12:55 pm

          Admittedly, they might be able to do a half midstation without demolishing the building currently at the top of the slides, if they move the bottom terminal about 70 feet closer to the Colorado SuperChair or move the unload area to about 60 feet west of where the drive bullwheel at the top is.

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        • afski722 June 13, 2022 / 3:13 pm

          I actually wouldn’t be too surprised it they move the replacement Chair 5 alignment to the other side, skiers right (south side) of Twister. Thus moving the lower terminal south, farther away from Colorado; install a “Payday” like midstation adjacent to the Alpine Slide for summer / running the lift at half speed and avoiding any type of angle station / detachable mid-station.

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        • Donald Reif June 13, 2022 / 3:24 pm

          See, I feel like a Payday style midstation wouldn’t be ideal here. A detachable midstation would allow a slightly faster ride up in the summer, and could even be used in the winter if that’s the way they want to go.

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        • jcpierce05 June 14, 2022 / 7:56 am

          Running the lift slower in the summer would help mitigate traffic on the Alpine Slide and prevent extremely long lines at the top where there isn’t much room. In this situation, a Payday-like mid station would make the most sense.

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  4. carletongebhardt June 9, 2022 / 3:33 pm

    I think the reason they are announcing lifts this early is – marketing. It keeps the interest high as pass sales continue – rather than announcing everything in the fall when most people have already committed to a pass.

    Liked by 1 person

    • skitheeast June 9, 2022 / 4:59 pm

      It is absolutely marketing. It is no coincidence that two of the three projects they announced are for Attitash and Stevens Pass, resorts that have received plenty of complaints under Vail management.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Ethan Ducayet June 9, 2022 / 4:15 pm

    Will Lift 5’s chairs end up on Lift E?

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    • Jonathan June 9, 2022 / 6:43 pm

      I’d really like to see C chair upgraded. That’s a nice section without many people to lap, but C is slooooooooow.

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      • Carson June 9, 2022 / 8:18 pm

        Be care full what you wish for…. As soon as that lift gets upgraded it will become a joke just like the rest with crowds…. trust me I’ve learned that with summit at solitude

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    • pbropetech June 10, 2022 / 7:58 am

      The retrofitted carriers currently on 5 are just slightly newer versions of what’s already on E. I doubt my counterparts across the ridge are worried about replacing them.

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  6. skitheeast June 9, 2022 / 5:20 pm

    I have said it before about the Summit area at Attitash and I will say it again: The current trail design up there is not great for skier circulation, and it would be good for Vail to recognize this and put the new Summit detachable lift in the Top Notch alignment. Then, add a second lift to the summit of Little Attitash Mountain off of Northwest Passage with access from the future Progression Chair. It is more expensive, but it would also show them learning, understanding, and truly improving their mountains. I will say that this is better than nothing, but it will be on their operations team to really make the mountain shine.

    I guess Breck is going all out with Peak 8? The Chair 5 improvement is nice, and it really shows Vail’s emphasis on beginner and intermediate level skiers just one year after upgrading Rip’s Ride, but crowding elsewhere in the resort will need to be addressed at some point.

    Replacing Kehr is a nice little project. I am guessing most of the old Riblets at Vail properties are going to be replaced in the upcoming years after a couple of recent grip failures, including two incidents at Vail-owned resorts.

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    • Donald Reif June 9, 2022 / 9:32 pm

      Upgrading Lift 5 is definitely going to mitigate some of the crowding in the central part of the mountain, since some of the Colorado SuperChair’s traffic will be using it.

      I think if Breck wants to replace the four Riblets that will remain after this, they’d be best with using high speed quads to replace Lifts A and C, a triple or a fixed grip quad to replace Lift E, and either a fixed grip quad or a low capacity high speed quad to replace Lift 6 (a fixed grip might be more ideal if they want to meter the flow of traffic using the lift to access Imperial). I think I’d put priority on replacing Lift C because that would help relieve the Mercury and Beaver Run SuperChairs.

      Liked by 1 person

    • pbropetech June 9, 2022 / 10:48 pm

      Neither of the incidents you’re referring to were true grip (clip, in this case) failures. Rather, they were operational errors that led to clip ejection. Splitting hairs I know, but the distinction is there and calling them ‘failures’ suggests more damage.

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      • skitheeast June 10, 2022 / 12:02 am

        That is a key distinction, and I apologize for the confusion. Regardless of who is at fault, the frequency of Riblet clip ejections is concerning, and Vail may easily view it as a big liability.

        From Peter:
        March 2008 Drumheller Valley
        March 2008 Summit at Snoqualmie
        July 2010 Thredbo
        December 2010 Mt. Ashland – wind-related
        November 2011 Mt. Baker – damaged pin
        December 2011 Red Lodge – wind-related
        February 2012 Boyne Highlands
        February 2012 Coffee Mill
        January 2016 Heavenly
        December 2020 49 Degrees North
        January 2021 Indianhead
        January 2022 Wildcat

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    • BB17 June 10, 2022 / 10:50 am

      Skitheeast, this is an interesting idea to improve the summit area at Attitash, and I think it would be effective. But the downside (and I think the reason why Vail is not doing this) is because it would eliminate the perk of a one-seat ride from base to summit, which I would assume is good for marketing. (This is a similar situation to the Wildcat Express at Wildcat, which also provides one-seat access to the entire mountain even though non-expert skiers have very limited trail options from the top). From a skier circulation perspective, having the main flagship lift service mid-mountain terrain and having a lower-capacity lift service more limited summit terrain makes sense, but this contradicts the marketing value of advertising a base-to-summit lift.

      It will be interesting to see what the capacity of Attitash’s new summit lift will be. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have it be over 1,800 pph as that will overcrowd the three summit trails, but I would guess higher capacity (and thus shorter lift lines) is more attractive in advertising than less-crowded terrain.

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      • Bruce Overman June 16, 2022 / 9:25 am

        This overcrowded terrain argument for slow and/or lower capacity lifts is lame. Attitash better not limit capacity by putting fewer chairs on the new Summit lift. That is how Sunday River got the awful Spruce Triple with the silly loading belt. If Sunday River just groomed Downdraft all the time like Les Otten used to, there would be plenty of terrain. In the case of Boyne/Sunday River, not putting a detachable on Spruce was for 1 reason, to save money. It is embarrassing to have a new lift with a 9 minute ride time a large resort like SR.

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        • carletongebhardt June 16, 2022 / 2:44 pm

          At the time Sunday River needed to replace the Spruce Triple the resort was still owned by CNL (as were Loon and Sugarloaf) – Boyne was the operator. I believe it was in 2018 that Boyne took ownership of the properties, which is when they started on their current significant infrastructure improvement. CNL was only interested in maintaining the status quo.

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        • Peter June 16, 2022 / 3:45 pm

          Even if Sunday River groomed downdraft, Spruce does not deserve a high speed quad. I love Spruce more than the next Sunday River regular but it just does not need it. The issue is not the top of Spruce it is the bottle neck that is the area around the bottom terminal. The only real way to get to barker from the western peaks is through tourist trap which starts at the base of spruce. The only way out of barker is through lazy river which feeds onto risky businees and thus to the same area. The only way from the chondola to barker and east is via that same bottleneck/lower American express. I know I am disregarding that route from Lower Lazy River to barker but you get the point. The spurce peak and north peak area has enough capacity as is. Everyone knows barker needs an upgrade but outside of that Sunday River needs to focus on the edges of its resort not the middle and hopefully the Western Reserve is realized sooner rather than later. Also, Spruce hardly has a line on days when there’s no wind holds so thats certainly not the issue either. Upgrading Aurora or White heat to a high speed (or just faster fixed griped quads) would spread skiers out and create overall better skiing by distributing people onto underutilized terrain than making spruce a high speed quad would.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Calvin June 9, 2022 / 6:31 pm

    The YoY pass product sales units is meaningless. Vail moved up the deadline for purchase of Epic Pass products at their lowest rates by over 3 months this year. YoY numbers are useless until all pass product sales are done in November or so.

    For years Vail ha played fast and loose with numbers on Wall St earnings reports … most notably beginning to count Epic Day passes as season pass products vs. what they truly are an X-pack of tickets.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Calvin June 9, 2022 / 6:33 pm

    The only insightful info from the YoY numbers is that units are up 9% but revenue is only up 11%. Prices went up about 20%. That means people are downgrading products.

    Like

    • askifan June 9, 2022 / 10:21 pm

      Prices didn’t go up anywhere near 20%…

      Full Epic: $783 last year -> $841 this year (+7.4%)
      Local: $583 -> $626 (+7.4%)
      Keystone Plus: $311 -> $335 (+7.7%)
      …etc.

      Like

  9. afski722 June 9, 2022 / 6:52 pm

    I am guessing is a combination of factors:

    1) Quarterly earnings release; alway a good time to announce capital improvements and with the amount they do across all their resorts they can’t just announce it all once a year

    2) Order book / lead-time for new lifts is getting longer

    3) Marketing; always good to make an announcement, although announcements in early June about skiing tend to get lost in the noise of milestone, end of the school year, summer vacation season

    Chair 5 replacement at Breck has a much better ROI than any of the other lift replacement for a variety of reasons.

    – Peak 8 base is a mess, and this helps take the pressure off of Colorado
    – The begineer terrain pod of Chair 5 is somewhat under utilized because of 5 being a double chair and being long and slow and then add in a lift line
    – Helps with capacity going to the Terrain park
    – The reality is the improvements with Tryves and Chair 5 are more suited for the vast demographic of skiers and Breck. This gives Peak 8 a true begineers area and in reality is actually in some ways going to be better than Quicksilver on Peak 9

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ethan Ducayet June 10, 2022 / 1:52 pm

    Will the Lift 5 replacement lift at Breckenridge have a Payday Express style (non-detachable) mid-station? Which would force the lift to run at fixed-grip speeds during the summer.

    Like

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