The rumors were true – the first detachable chairlift in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will debut for the 2023-24 season at Snowriver Mountain Resort. The Doppelmayr six place will replace Chippewa, Leelinaw and Voyagers at Jackson Creek Summit, formerly Indianhead. The existing double, triple and quad have a combined design capacity of 5,250 passengers per hour, though that capacity has not been realized for years. The replacement lift will include 53 chairs yielding a capacity of 2,800 skiers per hour with the opportunity to go to 3,200 per hour if needed. It will take the name Voyageur Express and run from the bottom of Leelinaw to the top of Chippewa. With a line speed of 1,000 per minute, ride time will decrease from eight-plus minutes to just 3.5 minutes. “The new lift will greatly enhance our guest experience at Jackson Creek Summit,” said newly-hired General Manager Benjamin Bartz. “Because the new lift will be much easier for guests to load and unload, we anticipate smoother operations, meaning guests will spend more time skiing and less time sitting on a lift.”
The project is the second announced for next year by Midwest Family Ski Resorts, which already operates five detachable lifts across its resorts. The company previously announced plans to build another six pack at Lutsen Mountains next summer. “High speed lifts are a perfect fit for our Midwest ski areas,” explained Charles Skinner, President and owner of Snowriver, Granite Peak and Lutsen Mountains. “Most skiers need to stop and rest every 500-700 vertical feet, about two-thirds of a mile, which happens to be the length of our runs. So, rather than stopping to rest on the side of the trail as is the case for most skiers on a longer Western slope, skiers at our resorts simply rest on the three minute ride back up the mountain. High speed lifts transform the ski experience at our resorts from spending most of the ski day riding the chairlift or waiting in line to enjoying most of the day skiing down the hill,” Skinner continued.
The Voyageur Express line has already been cleared and the lift will be completed for the 2023-24 winter season.