The Highlands to Build First Six Place Bubble Lift in the Midwest

The fifth Boyne Resorts property to launch a D-Line detachable will be The Highlands, Michigan come 2023. Camelot 6 will include the first modern bubble chairs in the Midwest and the first fully automated safety bar system in the United States. Ergonomically designed D-Line seats will also feature heating and individual footrests. The lift will be the fastest in the Midwest with a line speed of six meters per second and ride time of just three minutes.

The flagship chairlift will replace three Riblet triples – Camelot, MacGully and Valley – all of which date back to the 1960s and the earliest days of triple chairs. Unlike the current Camelot, the new Doppelmayr will extend to the top of the Upper Camelot slope on the southern end of the mountain.

The Camelot zone features some of The Highlands’ most popular beginner and intermediate terrain adjacent to the Day Lodge. Appropriately, Camelot 6 will feature the first fully automated closing, locking and opening bar mechanisms in the US in addition to a height-adjustable loading conveyor. “We’re coming full circle in lift innovation from the world’s first bubble chairlift in 1963, to the Midwest’s first modern bubble lift with unrivaled guest comfort, speed, energy efficiency, and safety in 2023,” said Mike Chumbler, President and General Manager of The Highlands. “This will be the most kid-friendly and safest lift ever built. The addition of Camelot 6 will transform the guest experience on the southern end of our slopes for all levels of skiers and riders,” he added.

Camelot will become the fifth Boyne destination to debut Doppelmayr D-Line technology. Big Sky Resort, Boyne Mountain, Loon Mountain and Sunday River all feature six and eight passenger D-Line detachables, many with bubbles and heated seats. While Alterra, Vail Resorts and other operators have also purchased D-Line lifts, Boyne’s level of commitment to the technology remains unrivaled in North America.

Camelot 6 is the first significant on mountain investment as part of The Highlands’ Transformational Journey, a vision guiding resort growth with an array of new offerings and enhancements through the year 2030. More lift upgrades are expected to follow in the coming years.

Camelot 6 will debut for the 2023-24 ski season. Once complete, it will serve both day and evening skiers as well as becoming the primary access lift for summer sightseeing and mountain biking.

8 thoughts on “The Highlands to Build First Six Place Bubble Lift in the Midwest

  1. Larry Wollum September 20, 2022 / 9:29 am

    “… the first fully automated safety bar system in the United States. .”

    Actually, the first such system was installed on the fixed grip Triple Chairlift at Disney’s Blizzard Beach in Florida in 1995.

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  2. MI_skier September 20, 2022 / 10:05 am

    I’m excited for this, never thought a bubble D-line would even be considered for the Midwest, but I see a lot of issues with the plan.

    for one, I’m not seeing any indication of a mid unload for the Camelot beginners area, and going from the carpets all the way to the summit is a pretty big step. I think replacing the Camelot chair with a Doppelmayr triple or quad and making this “Valley 6” or “Macgully 6” would have been a better plan.

    Second issue is even if they push it to the theoretical max of 3,600 skiers/hour, it’s still a 33% decrease in capacity from three triples, and the loss of Macgully will make Heather even more of a nightmare than it is now on peak days. also unsure of how it’ll work with the base area, since all three lifts start in different spots and it would likely require some regrading to funnel everyone into this without too much flat ground/uphill skating.

    It’s tough to say what the effect on Heather Express will be, if the cut capacity will make it worse or having a second detach will make it better. personally I think it will be the former. the two high speed chairs will have long waits while Challenger, Amy’s, and North Face are empty

    either way, Highlands has a ton of work to do still and will need replacements of every old lift soon. a Heather 6 or 8 (D-line), Interconnect HSQ, fixed quads on Challenger and Amy’s, and a fixed or detach quad on North Face.

    but still, a bubble 6 in MI is awesome. it will be great for laps on cold days and nights, and improve Highlands’ night skiing experience a lot, maybe even bringing the possibility of night ops extending over to the Valley runs. great to see some real upgrades coming to hills that look like they’re still in the 1970’s.

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    • Todd September 20, 2022 / 11:05 am

      Great decision by Boyne to finally replace valley as that terrain is great and very under utilized but I agree with MI_SKIER about the lack of capacity now. Highlands can get extremely busy on the weekends and with the boarder now roughly back to normal expect even more skiers with the Canadians able to come back.

      Surprised that heather wasn’t given the nod first though.

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  3. Matthew September 20, 2022 / 11:04 am

    I’m not surprised that Boyne is first to the automatic bar circus in North America. What I am surprised (or will be) is if Vail decided to do a D-Line with an Automatic bar for a lift they want to replace next year at their resort

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  4. Carson September 20, 2022 / 5:41 pm

    Rip to some awesome triple chairs

    Liked by 1 person

  5. afski722 September 20, 2022 / 8:55 pm

    Interesting as this was first leaked out a year ago and quickly retracted. The leaked / posted master plan last year indicated this would be an HS8 like the one they are currently installing at Boyne Mountain on Disciples Ridge.
    Looks like they changed the original concept and are going with a HS6 instead.

    There have been “plans / rumors” for a HS6 to replace the MacGully lift in front of the day lodge for going back since the late 90s. They have always needed a good access lift from in front of the day lodge where the majority of day skiers start their day.

    I don’t think its a good idea to replace the existing Camelot 3 without a true beginners lift. Its going to be a big step up from the carpet to riding a 6 pack to the top of the mountain. Lower Camelot was one of the better true beginner areas in the state, but its a big step up to a longer run down “Kath Run” from the top. On the flip side, the argument can be made that a 6 pack is easier to load and to combine kids/students with ski school instructors on the same chair than a triple.

    Valley has always been a slow lift, and an underutilized part of the mountain. Once North Peak opened in the mid-90s, this area became a lot less utilized.
    In the past several years, they rarely run Valley lift midweek.

    MacGully usually doesn’t run mid-week but I always thought it was a cool lift how it went up the steep pitch and then through the ravine in the upper mountain. The removal of this lift will actually really open up the skiability of the MacGully trail which current has lift towers in the middle of the run.

    I will be a bit nostalgic about this lift replacement as I spend many good ski days in my youth learning to ski at Boyne Highland and a lot of time riding these lifts. I have always been a big fan of Riblet lifts. Its what we all grew up riding in the Midwest.

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  6. MI_skier September 21, 2022 / 5:35 am

    I think an 8 is still a reasonable possibility for heather, which is why this ended up being a 6. Heather gets very busy even though it’s capacity is up near 3,000, and not having Macgully will make that worse, so a 3,600pph+ lift could totally be realistic (plus, 22/23 will be it’s 33rd season, pretty old for a HSQ).

    It wasn’t mentioned in the intro video or any of the articles put out, but I’m curious if Camelot will get a midstation for beginners terrain. I noticed that both the top and bottom were shown in relative detail but they never showed the lift line as a whole. I also think the loss of a good beginners chair was not a good idea for highlands.

    I wonder if any of the triples could go to Mt. Holiday or if they’re too old to get reused. Holiday’s lifts make these things look new, so I think it could be possible.

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