Bubble Six Pack Coming to Sunday River’s Barker Mountain

Just hours after announcing a new lift project on Merrill Hill, Sunday River Resort this afternoon unveiled plans for a much larger machine replacing the Barker Mountain Express. When it debuts next season, Barker 6 will be among the fastest lifts in North America, featuring D-Line technology, bubbles, heated seats and a direct drive. With Jordan 8 in Jordan Bowl and Barker 6 on Barker Mountain, Sunday River will become the only resort in Eastern North America with two flagship D-Line bubble lifts. Barker 6’s chairs and terminals will closely match Jordan 8 but in six passenger gauge.

Few skiers will miss the current Barker quad, a Yan-Poma frankenlift first constructed in 1987. Over the years that machine became known for extended breakdowns and was frequently lampooned on the internet. Barker 6 will be everything Barker 4 wasn’t with 63 ergonomically designed chairs and a 4.5 minute ride time at six meters per second. Each chair will weigh nearly a ton and come with a Sunday River red bubble. The lift will transport up to 3,250 skiers per hour up Barker Mountain with 13 towers.

Doppelmayr will construct the Merrill Hill II and Barker 6 lifts simultaneously this summer and both are expected to open for the 2023-24 ski season. “The recent opening of the Jordan 8, the announcement of Barker 6, coupled with dramatic snowmaking system investments and the addition of a second Merrill Hill lift, all represent big next steps in Sunday River’s 2030 Plan,” said Sunday River President Dana Bullen.

Today’s news continues an extraordinary streak of investment by Boyne Resorts that started in earnest with Ramcharger 8, the first eight place chairlift in the Americas at Big Sky in 2018. After a brief Covid pause, a similar project debuted at Loon Mountain in 2021 and this season Boyne debuted the first D-Line in the midwest and the first eight place lift in Maine with Jordan 8. The 2023 construction season will prove even bigger for Boyne and Doppelmayr with D-Line bubble lifts going in at Sunday River and The Highlands, a brand new tram at Big Sky and terrain expansions with new lifts at Sunday River, Loon Mountain and Sugarloaf. With additional projects at Boyne Mountain and others in the pipeline, the third largest North American resort operator will likely invest significantly more than larger rivals Alterra and Vail Resorts this offseason. Next winter Boyne will operate half of all the D-Line lifts at North American ski areas and 100 percent of eight place chairlifts in the United States.


22 thoughts on “Bubble Six Pack Coming to Sunday River’s Barker Mountain

  1. wayneme February 16, 2023 / 12:41 pm

    Now we’re talking! We knew it had to happen eventually but what a relief it’ll be to finally have a new Barker lift.


  2. skitheeast February 16, 2023 / 12:57 pm

    Fantastic news, but a horrible order of announcements. Sunday River really had social media and the internet losing their minds for a couple of hours as many people assumed Merrill Hill 2 was happening in place of a Barker replacement this upcoming summer.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Donald Reif February 16, 2023 / 1:00 pm

    The renderings suggest they’re going with 90 degree loading at the bottom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter February 16, 2023 / 1:16 pm

      It looks like the lift will have a slightly different alignment with the bottom terminal a little to right the side of the pond, and a loading maze from only one side of the terminal as opposed to the two sides the current lift maze has.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Matthew February 16, 2023 / 1:47 pm

    Peter, it’s not the only 2 Flagship bubbles in the Northeast. Okemo has two as well.


    • JC February 16, 2023 / 3:04 pm

      Not quite. Quantum Four (now Evergreen Summit Express) was not installed new with bubbles (they were added later), and also the lift does not have heated seats.


  5. carletongebhardt February 16, 2023 / 2:36 pm

    Finally! It was strange to announce Merrill Hill first and this second.


  6. meirk February 16, 2023 / 2:52 pm

    I remember reading at some point that Jordan’s red bubbles were custom (with the old bubble blogpost here not mentioning red as a catalogue color). Is this true? Additionally, are there any lifts, other than these two, built or scheduled to be built, anywhere, that use red bubbles?


    • ShangRei Garrett February 16, 2023 / 3:37 pm

      I’m pretty sure Jordan was the first lift in the world with red bubbles. Which would make this the second. Not sure if any other are scheduled, but I’m pretty sure these will be the only two for now.


  7. Ryan February 16, 2023 / 3:09 pm

    with all these new lift announcements there feels like a lot of claims of “fastest lift” and “longest lift” and things like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cody Brook February 16, 2023 / 4:04 pm

    I wonder what they will do for spring? Probably close this lift first weekend of April and move spring skiing to Locke? Just wondering

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Max Hart February 16, 2023 / 4:59 pm



  10. Max Hart February 16, 2023 / 5:04 pm

    This is also the first I’ve heard of this “frequent lampooning on the internet” regarding the current BMX. I know nothing about that… Nothing at all…


    • Cody Brook February 17, 2023 / 4:50 pm



      • Bruce February 19, 2023 / 8:59 pm

        I have always joked that the current Barker Express is the worlds slowest detachable quad.


  11. liftnerd February 16, 2023 / 6:05 pm

    25 years from now, I wonder what we will think of all of these D-Lines (and Boyne) as the D-Lines age.

    Liked by 1 person

    • YobB1n February 16, 2023 / 6:13 pm

      Trust me, they’ll age far better than the current lift has… not that that says much lol


    • Michael February 20, 2023 / 7:22 am

      They will probably have the same problems that the detachables from the ’90’s are experiencing now- Obsolete electronics; spare parts becoming scarce due to being out of production; equipment becoming more maintenance intensive both in labor and coast due to the aging process of operations… $0.02


      • Kirk February 20, 2023 / 7:43 am

        Yeah D-lines probably start at about 12 million. Four times the cost of a 90’s lift. But I guess that’s a good deal compared to egg’s that have gone up about 15 times the price, lol


  12. Muni February 17, 2023 / 8:41 pm

    This trend of Boyne’s towards putting lifts inside boxy buildings feels like it will get dated fast … Steamboat just spent a lot of time, effort, and money to get the gondola out of a (very dated, kind of cheap-looking) enclosed building.

    Granted terminal designs can also go out of fashion, but it just seems like the more built environment you surround a lift with, the faster and more apparent that obsolescence becomes. Particularly when you don’t put time and effort into its architecture. The other day I was just thinking about what an eyesore the Eagle Bahn’s terminals at Vail are becoming (particularly the summit).

    At the very least, I wish they’d pick some more timeless style. Stowe’s gondola coming out of a red, New England barn will never feel obsolete (even though the lift itself is starting to feel very past its prime). Jackson Hole struck a nice balance with the new tram’s lower terminal: classic elements like rough-cut stonework and wood siding, and then sleek glass curtain walls on the upper portion (it’s clear they had a big budget and a quality architect involved).

    From the rendering here, the terminal buildings are just … kind of drab. Particularly the hodgepodge of stucco boxes glommed onto the lower terminal. It’s not just Sunday River either … the big glass storage building on Swift Current feels really out of proportion. I hope they try to do better with the tram/gondola complex. These are decisions we all need to live with for three-plus decades.


  13. Peter February 24, 2023 / 6:54 pm

    I wonder which ski resort will be the first to have two D-Line eight packs. Seems like Boyne just starts out with the Eight pack for marketing reasons and then goes with D-Line bubble Six packs after as with both Swiftie and Barker. I also wonder if they replaced Jordan before Barker because they wanted the Eight pack to go in first, and Jordan made more sense for the Eight pack for wind resistance reasons.


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