Michigan ski areas continue to invest in new lift technology as Nub’s Nob today became the latest to announce a project for 2023. Skytrac will build the new Green chair, a fixed grip quad replacing a 1978 Riblet. The existing lift serves as the main out-of-base people mover at Nub’s Nob.
In a video message announcing the project, General Manager Ben Doornbos identified three reasons Nub’s Nob chose a fixed grip quad over a detachable. “High speed chairlifts at Nub’s Nob just don’t make sense,” he said, noting the high cost and other drawbacks. A detach would only shave two minutes off the current five minute ride and would cause congestion as skiers favored the lift over nearby fixed grip chairs. “We want to stay future focused and continue to invest in the downhill experience,” he continued. “The only thing we’re ever going to care about at Nub’s Nob is making this place the home for the best Midwestern ski experience possible.”
Elsewhere in Michigan, The Highlands, Mt. Holly and Snowriver also plan to debut new lifts for 2023-24. The four projects announced already come on top of big investments by Michigan ski resorts this season including new lifts at Bittersweet, Boyne Mountain and Caberfae Peaks. That’s seven new lifts in two years for the Great Lakes State.
excited but also kinda sad, these late model Riblets are some of my favorite lift designs out there, but the Green is an old, essential lift where something reliable and comfortable is needed. I’m curious if Nubs will do anything with the Orange or Purple lifts in the future, both are old and rebuilt/scrapped together like Green was.
When Disciples 8 was announced people were talking about a Midwest “arms race”, and I think that’s definitely happening right now (I think this is the 13th lift in two years). I feel like huge projects at Nubs’ two biggest competitors, the Boyne resorts, pushed them towards improvements of their own to stay as a top teir resort in the area.
the old Green would be another great candidate to replace the Blue chair at Mt. Holiday (then both their lifts would be used from Nubs). Blue is one of the sketchiest lifts in MI in my opinion.
I was nervous when Nubs was teasing the announcement earlier today on FB, but glad to see they decided to stick with a fixed grip quad for the Green replacement. The Green is their workhorse lift, operating every day and night they are open. They did a major rebuilt on this lift in 1996 replacing the lower tension station, chairs, towerheads, and drive motor.
It was coming due for a replacement.
I am glad that Nubs is sticking with a fixed grip replacement as it makes so much sense for a variety of reasons.
Nubs isn’t Boyne, and in fact they pride themselves on being the anti-Boyne. They have to keep their vibe, keep the locals happy, and keep their skier numbers & pricing in line to support such.
Glad the Fisher family and management including Ben & Marty are keeping a good thing going here. Glad to see they are sticking to the roots and keeping Nubs all about the skiing/riding and old-school vibe alive.
Orange lift has a few more years in it but yes will be eventually due for a replacement too. Purple too but they have all the parts stock from the Blue lift to canabalize for a few more years.
Blue was a Poma. The rest are Ribbies/Superior Tramway
Purple is a relocated poma modified by riblet
I agree with the resort’s comments regarding detachable lifts. People often associate detachable lifts with overwhelming trails with skiers, even though a detachable has no greater capacity than a fixed grip, and part of the reason for that is because they draw in more people. Nub’s Nob would need 3 detachables, one for each area, to keep people spread out, and that is a large expense. The ride time is 5 minutes, there is no reason it needs to be faster.
What I will note is that lift consolidation does make sense given the increased reliability of new lifts and annual cost savings associated with fewer overall lifts. If the cost of labor continues to rise or an expensive maintenance issue occurs on either Yellow or Red, it may make sense to remove one of those two lifts in the future.
I think all of Nubs’ backup chairs need to stay, especially Red. Nubs is known for not being crowded, and the four unessential lifts are a big reason why. Nubs distributes skiers far better than most resorts in the area, meaning every backup lift they have gets a decent amount of use and you’ll see just as many people on the Black lift in back as you will on Green most of the time. every lift gets a lot of use, and funneling the park riders from Red or the people lapping Yellow all down to Green would make lines much worse.
Brown and Yellow also serve as faster rides for the steeper runs in their area and are better for lapping accessible runs than their counterparts in Green and Orange. the Red chair is essential for the terrain park, and if Green goes down it’s the best way to the summit.
Red is not a “back-up” lift. It serves an entire terrain pod of its own, including the league racing/NASTAR slope, terrain park, and the easier terrain on the front. It runs every day and night they are open. Its a 1993 Riblet, similar vintage to the other late-model Riblets on the hill. With the decision to keep Green a fixed grip, it almost ensures when the time comes down the road they will replace the current lift system, not consolidate.
Nub’s regular here. I can’t say I’m particularly excited about replacing the green lift with a new lift, but every piece of technology has a lifespan, and at 45 years this 1978 lift is probably at the end of its useful lifespan. I’m sure Ben and Alicia aren’t just replacing it to have a new shiny toy.
Totally agree with the decision to stick with a fixed grip. I like the high speed lifts, but installing *one* would disrupt the way the crowd spreads out on busy days.
As for the additional time it takes to get to the top, I ski both Nubs and the Highlands a lot (but only Nubs on busy days) Ten runs an hour at Nubs, eleven runs an hour at the Highlands on the high speed Heather lift. So it’s not that big a difference. And on weekends and holidays… the ratio of skiing to waiting & riding the lift is much higher at Nubs.
The reality is that the Green lift while still in excellent condition would likely be facing a significant amount of maintenance / replacement in the upcoming years. Including cable replacement, drive motor replacement, drive control upgrades, sheaves, sheave bars, grips, tensioning system, etc. Not to mention inspections / replacement related to all the welds on carriers, tower bases, tower heads, terminal structures, etc.
At that point, to put hundreds of thousands of dollars into a lift where most of the components are 25-45 years old, it becomes worthwhile to put in all new equipment.
With replacement of the Green, it give a lot of parts to help maintain the other Riblets on the hill. (sheaves, grips, beaker bars, carriers)
Its pretty clear that Nubs it likely to replace its fleet of Riblets with Skytrac in the years/decades ahead. This seems to be the direction many of the Midwestern areas are likely to go as they have the most cost effective fixed grip lifts in the marketplace.