Winter Park Announces Pioneer Six Pack for 2023

It’s official: this winter will be the last for Pioneer Express at Winter Park, tied for oldest high speed quad in the nation. The mountain’s fourth six place chairlift will debut on Vasquez Ridge next winter, increasing capacity from 1,900 skiers per hour to 2,800. A new mid load station at the intersection of Pioneer Express Trail and Big Valley will eliminate the need for many guests to ski all the way to the bottom terminal along a flat run out. The mid-station will sit near the current tower 7 with no angle change. With the retirement of Pioneer, Coney Glade at Snowmass and Sunshine Express at Telluride will remain tied for oldest detachable quad in America at 37 years.

The Forest Service already approved Pioneer’s replacement, the seventh lift project announced by Alterra Mountain Company for next year. Others are at Mammoth Mountain, Snowshoe, Solitude and Steamboat. A manufacturer for the Winter Park project was not announced, though the mountain operates a large fleet of Leitner-Poma detachable lifts.


35 thoughts on “Winter Park Announces Pioneer Six Pack for 2023

  1. jcartergibb December 5, 2022 / 3:56 pm

    very excited how the mid load is going to work


    • Donald Reif December 5, 2022 / 5:28 pm

      I’m thinking it’s going to be a half-station like West Buttermilk’s.


      • The Notorious Snowboarder December 6, 2022 / 3:23 pm

        Actually, I got confirmation that it will be a full-size mid-station due to the planned location of the new terminal.


        • Aidan Reilly December 30, 2022 / 3:34 pm

          It will be a heavy side only mid-station.


  2. Tyler Baroody December 5, 2022 / 4:09 pm

    This broke down – leading to the passengers being belayed down – a season or two ago.


    • Ryan December 6, 2022 / 2:18 am

      That happens on new lifts as well.


    • The Notorious Snowboarder December 7, 2022 / 9:09 am

      That can happen to all lifts but the fact that this lift broke down due to fatigue in a mechanical part and with the age of this lift, this is the reason they are pushing forward to replace this lift sooner rather than later. This lift has actually gotten evacuated twice in its lifetime. On January 1st, 2008, a gust of wind pushed a chair to jam upon entering the top terminal throwing 2 guests off the chair, luckily they were not injured. This caused some mechanical failure and 115 people were evacuated during blizzard-like conditions.


      • Tin Pants December 9, 2022 / 5:37 am

        i remember this it was also very cold there was a real chance of cold injuries ski patrol did an amazing job


  3. Aidan Reilly December 5, 2022 / 6:33 pm

    Manufacturer will be Leitner-Poma of America. Winter Park recently made a $1.8 Million down payment for the new Pioneer. I was told it was supposed to have a maintenance garage up top, but Sunnyside was supposed to have one and that didn’t happen.


    • The Notorious Snowboarder December 6, 2022 / 3:21 pm

      Can confirm the manufacturer will be Leitner-Poma.


  4. Jonathan December 5, 2022 / 7:57 pm

    The mid-load station is great news. This is a nice area, but the runout to the chair loading area was way too long and flat. On my trips there I would give it one or two runs and leave due to the runout. I’m sure it was deadly on a snowboard. This will make it much more lapable for skiers and snowboarders alike.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ben December 7, 2022 / 11:47 am

      This area is really underutilized because of the runout. It will hopefully spread people out more and take some of the load off of Pano/Olympia. Pioneer has the best intermediate cruisers in my opinion at WP with the runout just making it difficult to commit there for long. It also didn’t help that I have been stuck over there several times because maintenance issues.


    • Michael December 12, 2022 / 11:28 pm

      That was the best thing about the run out, no one hit it more than once. So you could get fresh turns on Aces and Eights or the Gambler all day!
      I’m a snowboarder and The Big Valley is where I finally got good at traversing flats.


  5. Donald Reif December 6, 2022 / 6:40 am

    Here’s the location of the future midstation:

    Seems ideal, given that this is where the lift begins climbing up.

    I can see the lift having a light-side flyover not unlike Outlaw’s.


    • The Notorious Snowboarder December 6, 2022 / 3:20 pm

      I don’t know what your pictures show because they won’t load for me for some reason, but the mid-station will be full-size (which will be explained later) and a couple of yards away from the current depression tower because the FS says there is a wetland there. So that means that the light side will follow the same path as the heavy side and enter the terminal.


  6. Matt December 6, 2022 / 7:25 am

    I hope the new lift doesn’t ruin all my secret pow stashes 🤫


  7. silverthorne December 6, 2022 / 12:56 pm

    Much needed upgrade, but I’m a bit sad to see the retirement of one of the last of this era Poma detachable. Other than Coney Glade and Zephyr at Hunter Mountain in Upstate New York, are any left?


    • Ryan Murphy December 6, 2022 / 2:12 pm

      No, those will be the last two of this generation.


    • pbropetech December 6, 2022 / 2:12 pm

      I believe that’s it.


      • Silverthorne December 6, 2022 / 2:56 pm

        Thanks guys. I’d love to see Coney Glade operated for a long time as an artifact of history, though given the pace of early detachable lift replacements I appreciate that’s probably wishful thinking.


        • Donald Reif December 7, 2022 / 9:17 pm

          Coney Glade will probably get a rebuild with new terminals and chairs, but retain its HSQ status. (Snowmass probably wants to ensure a way for people from the other upper mountain pods to get over to Sam’s Knob without going through the village)


        • argothor February 1, 2023 / 11:41 pm

          Snowmass’ Master Development Plan is calling for the Coney Glade to have the lower terminal moved lower down so it is opposite the Snowmass Mall, and replaced with a 6 pack.


  8. nedakal December 6, 2022 / 11:08 pm

    As someone who has skied pioneer for years, I am sad to see the old lift go. This lift was an integral part of my childhood, and I have so many memories from it. I have to admit I’m a bit bummed about the mid station. The reason pio is so good is because nobody wants to go over here due to the flat part, and the new lift will bring many more people to the area. However, unlike a lot of people in the industry (like the ones that are trying to shut down the winter park town gondola plan), I believe that upgrades like this are essential for the overall experience and development of the resort, and I’m excited for the comfort and speed of the new lift, as well as how the whole midstation is going to work and feel. This project seems like it’s been put off for a couple years now and it’s good to hear that alterra is actually giving a bit of attention to winter park and not just focusing on steamboat.


    • skitheeast December 7, 2022 / 8:20 am

      Winter Park has received, and will continue to receive, plenty of love from Alterra. The Gondola, Sunnyside, and now Pioneer will be 3 lifts in 6 years, with more to come from the new master plan.

      Alterra views Denver as a market it wants to seriously compete in for both locals and the out-of-state skiers who fly or drive in every year, but it only has Winter Park, Steamboat, and an equity-based partnership with Aspen Snowmass against Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, and Breck. Partnerships with Copper, Eldora, and A-Basin help for now, but it is unknown how long they will last. The significant investments in Steamboat and Winter Park will continue for the foreseeable future.

      Liked by 2 people

    • The Notorious Snowboarder December 7, 2022 / 8:32 am

      I completely agree with you, it will be sad to see this lift go, but I also can’t wait for the new lift to be ready, it will make the long and cold lift ride up much faster! Does anyone know if the lift will sell or be scrapped and sell the chairs?


    • Ryan December 8, 2022 / 5:53 am

      Many of us understand that feeling. Maybe you get get one of the chairs.


  9. Dan December 7, 2022 / 7:57 am

    I do want them to reuse the chairs on a future lift.


    • The Notorious Snowboarder December 7, 2022 / 8:48 am

      IF they were to reuse the chairs for another lift (very slim chance), they should use the old chairs on the High Lonesome Express, that’s the only place I would imagine, but they wouldn’t be able to reuse the old Pioneer grips because of the difference in technology. For all the other lifts you either can’t use those chairs or they are perfectly fine. I would admit that the design of the footrests on High Lonesome Express is kinda dumb, some people get 1 footrest, others get 2, and it would go between your legs. Again, they are most likely not going to do that because it’s probably not worth the time and money and the fact that High Lonesome has more chairs than Pioneer.


    • The Notorious Snowboarder December 7, 2022 / 8:49 am

      I just saw the word “future lift,” lol.


    • pbropetech December 7, 2022 / 10:13 am

      Those carriers aren’t worth reusing. I explained why on the Pioneer page, but the short version is that they’re worn out and difficult to get parts for. No maintenance department is going to want to take that on.


    • Aidan Reilly December 30, 2022 / 3:36 pm

      I was talking to the Lift Maintenance Manager about the replacement recently, and he said they will save the grips and the chairs will probably be donated.


  10. Winter Park Rider December 7, 2022 / 9:11 pm

    The Pio will be missed in addition to the lack of skiers due to the difficulty to get to Vasquez Ridge, but this has been a long time coming. WP desperately needs more groomed blue options. Cranmer, White Rabbit, and Jabberwocky just can’t handle the increase in traffic over the past 25 years. The risk of skiing on a sunny Saturday in March is comparable to running across I-25 in Demver at 7am!


    • Bruce December 9, 2022 / 12:35 pm

      Agreed, lack of groomed blues is one of WP’s biggest problems. I have always loved Vasquez Ridge and being a larger skier the flat run outs never bothered me much. My only complaint about Vasquez Ridge in the past is that they usually only groom 2 or 3 trials, groom more of them every night! With the new lift Vasquez Ridge will become more crowded, but still should be empty compared to Cranmer which I rarely ski anymore for fear of being hit. WP should groom a few more trails at Mary Jane also, this would help open the area up to more intermediates and skiers/riders who don’t like moguls.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Boardski December 9, 2022 / 12:58 pm

    I’d be in favor of a compromise to the grooming situation: how about if they groom 1/2 or even 2/3 and leave the remaining lines bumpy on some of the runs? Skiing and riding bumps are a great workout but are an entirely different style of skiing and riding that is not for everyone. The major disadvantage of grooming too many trails is they tend to become vertical ice rinks and dangerous. I noticed this at Vail and Beaver Creek last season on many of the trails and most of the town side at Telluride.


  12. skitheeast January 14, 2023 / 9:22 pm

    I like the new mid-station, but something that keeps bothering me is that the bottom terminal should then be moved up to its intersection with Wagon Train. The runoff for Pioneer is a pain from both directions, and even though this would cut off a well-pitched part right at the end, it would make the overall trip shorter!

    The one downside I can think of is that it won’t fit within their current Vasquez Ridge plan, but that is only because of the access lift’s proposed bottom location. It is going to be a lift with close to zero lappability, so they can really move it wherever.


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