Breaking Down the Building Boom of 2022

The 2.4 mile Base to Base Gondola connected Alpine Meadows and Olympic Valley following two years of construction and decades of dreaming.

North American lift construction reached a 23 year high in 2023 with 66 installations from California to Maine and British Columbia to Nova Scotia. Not only did 2022 see the largest number of projects since 1999, it was likely the biggest lift investment year ever in dollars. While there’s no way to know exactly how much all the lifts cost, it’s safe to say the new gondolas, bubble chairs and fixed grip quads built this year total hundreds of millions. Amazingly, this feat was accomplished amid immense supply chain and labor challenges and without three large projects postponed at Park City and Keystone. A few lifts remain in final stages of construction this New Year’s Eve but will be completed in the first weeks of 2023 and spin for decades to come.

Rip’s Ride was the very first of 18 Epic Lift Upgrade projects to open this season.

Vail Resorts realized an incredible 18 new lifts at 12 resorts for the 2022-23 season, the largest-ever investment by the firm and probably any company in North American ski history. Boyne Resorts also went big with multiple eight place installations and a half dozen projects total as it continued renewing lift fleets across its ten resort portfolio. Five year old Alterra Mountain Company launched giant new gondolas at Palisades Tahoe and Steamboat with more big projects in the pipeline for 2023.

Jordan 8 became the fourth eight place chairlift in the United States at Sunday River, Maine.

While this year’s class spans coast to coast, a few geographic hot spots accounted for the bulk of new lifts. I have already travelled to Lake Tahoe four times this season thanks to new lift openings at five different resorts (and plentiful snow!) Five different resorts in the Wasatch also added new lifts, a number lower than originally planned due to the unfortunate cancellation of Park City’s two projects. As always, Colorado was an epicenter with not one but two new lifts at both Steamboat and Vail plus one offs at Arapahoe Basin, Loveland and Telluride.

Skytrac had its biggest year ever for complete lifts with 10 projects on top of relocations and retrofits.

In the Midwest, the big story was Michigan where Boyne Mountain debuted the region’s first eight place detachable, Caberfae expanded onto South Peak and Bittersweet debuted a second high speed quad. In the east, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania nearly matched Colorado’s number of new lifts, a whopping five of which went in at Vail-owned Jack Frost and Big Boulder. Camelback Resort and Blue Mountain nearly doubled the state’s number of six packs overnight. Four of six New England states saw new construction with three new lifts each in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Canada had a relatively quiet year aside from Whistler, where Vail Resorts and Doppelmayr built the two largest lifts of the year by vertical transport feet per hour.

The Gray Butte Quad at Mt. Shasta Ski Park adds to the ski area’s vertical and terrain offering for the 2022-23 season.

There weren’t just a lot of lifts this year but a lot of big lifts. 2022 saw the highest percentage of detachable equipment since at least 1999, when four different companies competed in the space. After decades with only Doppelmayr and Leitner-Poma in the North American detachable market, MND Ropeways completed its first North American detachable at Waterville Valley this year in partnership with Bartholet. With a capacity of 3,000 skiers per hour and 1,600 foot vertical rise, the Tecumseh Express is one of the largest installations of the year by any manufacturer.

Waterville Valley’s Tecumseh Express, a bubble six pack built by MND Ropeways.

Fixed grip triples and quads remained popular this year with a solid 26 installations. Gondolas also reached a Covid-era high while surface lifts and trams took a back seat.

Exciting lift-served expansions opened across the West as 2022 came to a close. A D-Line six pack at Grand Targhee unlocked 500 new acres on Peaked Mountain and a quad chair at Lookout Pass opened another 500 acres on Eagle Peak. A new quad at Mt. Shasta services 250 new acres on Gray Butte and another fixed quad accesses 40 acres of new terrain at at Sundance Resort. Utah Olympic Park also completed a major expansion to its training facilities with a high speed quad on West Peak.

Grand Targhee’s new Colter detachable six pack opened in November on Peaked Mountain.

Despite the entrance of MND and niche installations by Partek and SkyTrans, the HTI Group and Doppelmayr remain locked in a fierce duopoly in North America, mirroring their positions globally. HTI’s Leitner-Poma and Skytrac constructed a combined 26 lifts in this corner of the world while Doppelmayr managed 30. Together those represent 95 percent market share.

Steamboat’s new Wild Blue Gondola features 10 passengers cabins and the largest diameter haul rope of any lift in North America.

Interestingly HTI continues to offer two different fixed grip product lines (Skytrac Monarch and Leitner-Poma Alpha) while Doppelmayr has two detachable families with D-Line and UNI G. This was the largest year ever for D-Line with five installations and more planned for next year.

Covid turned into a boon for the ski industry and 65 of 66 projects were at ski resorts. For all the talk of urban gondolas and point of interest projects, skiing remains nearly synonymous with the lift business. An outfit called SkyLand Ranch near Gatlinburg, Tennessee saw the lone non-skiing installation for 2022. So far only one of next year’s project is non-skiing at a California winery.

Saddleback Mountain self-installed a new beginner quad supplied by Partek.
After a few year hiatus, the Leitner-Poma Alpha returned in 2022 with installations at Loveland, Cascade Mountain and Wasatch Peaks Ranch.

Lift Blog also enjoyed a growth year with more than 800,000 unique visitors viewing 4.3 million pages – an average of 12,000 per day. As great as 2022 was, 2023 will be even better. With early orders in hand, manufacturers are ramping up to build at least 60 projects ranging from the first D-Lines in Canada to a large aerial tramway and the longest gondola in North America. Keystone’s Bergman Bowl expansion will finally be realized along with expansions at Aspen Mountain, Schweitzer, Steamboat, Loon Mountain and Sugarloaf. There are also a number of big lifts on order which have not been publicly announced yet. You can bet I will cover them all and hope you will join me. Happy New Year.

Jackson Hole and Leitner-Poma partnered to upgrade the Thunder lift from a fixed grip quad to a detachable quad with contour loading and unloading.

25 thoughts on “Breaking Down the Building Boom of 2022

  1. Aussierob December 31, 2022 / 8:58 pm

    Thanks for all your hard work and coverage Peter. The blog is a great resource for all of us interested in or working on lifts. All the best for 2023. Be advised that you will not escape Whistler again without me buying you a beer.

    Rob :-)

    Liked by 16 people

  2. Benjamin Edwards December 31, 2022 / 9:06 pm

    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Karl Tingwald December 31, 2022 / 10:20 pm

    Happy New Year Peter! Your coverage is awesome and the fact that you’ve now traveled to every ropeway on the continent is incredible. Hopefully even more mainstream media coverage and growth is on the way for 2023!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Peter Landsman January 1, 2023 / 8:46 am

      Not quite every one on the continent. I still have about 70 small ski areas in Canada to get to.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. El Chapo December 31, 2022 / 11:22 pm

    What is contour loading and unloading?

    Like

    • ShangRei Garrett January 1, 2023 / 2:37 am

      When you load/unload perpendicular to the direction the lift runs

      Like

  5. Glen December 31, 2022 / 11:46 pm

    Thanks Peter, love your variety of articles and especially Tuesday format with great photos.
    Something to look forward to midweek!
    Keep up great work. Happy New Year.

    Like

  6. Kirk January 1, 2023 / 7:51 am

    Peter, good job on all the lift data and news you provide. Happy New Year.
    One thought.
    27 – Detachable 8 million average each
    26 – Fixed grip 3 million average each
    4 – Gondolas 25 million average each
    1- Gondola 75 million Base to Base
    469 million dollars spent roughly for these lifts not counting infrastructure to support these systems.
    And I can ski 3 good areas where I live for less than $400.00. Hmmm.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Peter Landsman January 1, 2023 / 8:50 am

    For reference these are the 2022 lifts not complete yet:

    Doppelmayr:
    Belle Neige
    Deer Valley
    Utah Olympic Park
    Telluride

    Leitner-Poma:
    Alta
    Bittersweet
    Blue Mountain, PA
    Cascade Mountain
    Palisades Red Dog
    Vail Sun Down

    Liked by 1 person

    • El Chapo January 3, 2023 / 11:31 am

      What about the new lift at Montana snow bowl? I don’t think that’s been completed either

      Like

  8. 208 Skier January 1, 2023 / 10:20 am

    Thanks for the great coverage, as always, Peter. I’m looking forward to your reports in 2023, especially updates on the work at Sun Valley. We’ll have to get you up to Bogus Basin again when you’re in the region for the new Sun Valley and Brundage lifts!

    Like

  9. JimS January 1, 2023 / 5:59 pm

    Apparently those who are directly involved in making investment decisions in the ski industry are very bullish on the future of winter sports despite the doom and gloom reporting in the media about catastrophic-man-made-climate change.

    I’ll continue to ignore the doom and gloom hype and stick with those closest to the situation.

    Like

    • Kirk January 1, 2023 / 6:36 pm

      The man-made-climate change is real. Have a look for yourself.
      geoengineeringwatch.org

      Like

    • Erik January 1, 2023 / 11:06 pm

      Man-made climate change is happening, but it’s not going to kill the ski industry in the 10-20 year time horizon being used to justify these investments. That said, we’ll probably start to lose some marginal ski areas (ones that can’t afford snowmaking or protect themselves from wildfires) in the coming years.

      The doom-and-gloom narrative is counter-productive; if people think we’ve already lost they won’t be as inclined to push their politicians to make the changes needed to avert the worst-case scenarios. Our past actions have already built in some warming, but all is not lost (far from it) if we continue to invest in solutions.

      Liked by 2 people

    • utahsucksdontmovehere January 2, 2023 / 12:48 pm

      Nobody is saying that skiing won’t exist in 10 years. It’s that changes need to be made now for it to continue existing for our children.

      Like

  10. Ryan January 2, 2023 / 12:22 am

    Happy New Year!

    Like

  11. Ryan January 2, 2023 / 1:17 am

    Great article as well. I’m wondering Partek’s future and potential is looking like? While a Doppelmayr and now a LP fan, I do cheer for the small companies out there and enjoy seeing them succeed. Even if they get gobbled up by the big boys. Someone had the guts to start a small business and try to make it successful.

    Like

  12. Michael January 2, 2023 / 7:18 am

    Peter- Thanks for the excellent breakdown of the historic 2022 lift season. Your coverage throughout the year is my way of keeping in touch with an Industry I was involved with for 45 years. Have an excellent winter.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. milerplus January 2, 2023 / 2:23 pm

    It’s crazy that it’s been since 2007 where have been more detachable lifts built than fixed grips! Hope it stays that way. Keep up the hard work Peter.

    Like

    • milerplus January 2, 2023 / 2:25 pm

      *excluding gondolas

      Like

  14. Bill Nabers January 2, 2023 / 5:55 pm

    Thanks for visiting Bryce (Va). And using it for one of the photos. Ski patrolled using that lift today

    Like

  15. SkiGuy January 3, 2023 / 2:37 pm

    People starting to think Jordan 8 at Sunday River is a lemon. It is down everyday. Rumor is some bad bearings…

    Like

    • pbropetech January 3, 2023 / 9:28 pm

      Rumours are just that. The lift is also brand-new and I’m sure there are some kinks to work out.

      By ‘it is down everyday’ do you mean it stops a great deal, or is closed?

      Like

      • SkiGuy January 4, 2023 / 4:15 am

        Opens late and closes for hours.
        The mountain closes the access trails into Jordan from Aurora when it is down.
        Only a few stops when running but rarely with full chairs

        Like

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