Montana’s Great Divide announced on Friday plans to construct new chairlifts in 2020 and 2022. The first one, dubbed Summit Shuttle, will load at the bottom of the Hiballer run and unload above the Mt. Belmont double‘s top terminal. This will extend Great Divide’s vertical from the true summit of 7,330’. The reasons for Summit Shuttle are four fold: allow skiers to lap the upper mountain without having to return to the base area, add lift capacity for peak days, provide maintenance redundancy and quicken access to Way Out West trails.
In three years, the mountain plans to add a second new lift in terrain known as Tall Timbers south of Rawhide Gulch. Part of this zone will open this winter and it will eventually encompass more than 150 acres. Egress to the base area will be via the existing Rawhide Gulch double. Components for both new lifts are already on site with engineering underway. Great Divide operates a quirky mix of entirely used Mueller and Riblet lifts from other mountains and these are likely to be similar.
In this era of consolidating ownership, it’s fantastic to see a family run, community ski area like Great Divide flourishing and expanding. The 1,600 acre mountain offered the longest season in Montana last year and a walk-up, peak period lift tickets cost $48.
Mayflower Mountain Resort, the fledgling billion dollar development near Park City, Utah, made headlines early this week on two fronts. First, the proposed resort’s owner reached an agreement with Alterra Mountain Company for Deer Valley to continue leasing a chunk of land on Bald Mountain for 199 years. Second, Mayflower held a media gathering, revealing grand plans for its first lifts to open in 2021.
With the new lease between Deer Valley and Mayflower’s parent companies, the existing Mayflower lift and terrain will remain part of Deer Valley regardless of what happens with Mayflower Mountain Resort.
Most of the 5,600 acres Extell Development of New York City has pieced together is currently undeveloped. That could change shortly with three new hotels, 400 acres of ski runs and multiple chairlifts above the Jordanelle Reservoir. Whether those lifts will be Deer Valley green and disallow snowboarders is an open question. There are a lot of parallels with Moonlight Basin, Montana throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Initially a modest development with a couple access lifts operated under contract by Big Sky Resort, Moonlight turned into a ski resort of its own before eventually being integrated back into Big Sky’s ticket products and operations.
Regardless of who operates the lifts, Mayflower could be big. Current plans call for five main lifts and two surface lifts, not counting a potential connector lifts to Deer Valley. Extell is commencing road and infrastructure work this fall with potential lift contracts a year away. The company has roughly two years to sort out whether it wants to be independent, partner more broadly with Alterra or perhaps another ski industry player.
Something terrible happened to the Sea to Sky Gondola overnight and police say it was likely an intentional act. General Manager Kirby Brown told the Squamish Chief that a worker heard a loud noise around 4:30 am and later found gondola cabins on the ground. “We’re just in the early moments of investigating how that could possibly happen,” he told the newspaper. “Certainly, early indications are that there was no environmental or maintenance mechanism that could have caused it. It points toward a conclusion that somebody interfered with the lift.”
No one was on the 7,000 foot long gondola at the time. The Doppelmayr eight passenger installation opened in May 2014 to carry sightseers and hikers above Howe Sound near Squamish, British Columbia. Not everyone was happy about the project when first proposed due to its proximity to the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. The gondola proved popular, however, and just this spring more cabins were added to bring the total number to 31.
At approx 4:30am we received an alert that the haul rope for Sea to Sky Gondola had fallen and the lift inoperable. No guests or staff were on the gondola and no injuries were sustained in the incident. The gondola is currently closed. More updates as they become available.
At a 3:00 pm press conference, Kara Triance with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said a criminal investigation is underway. “At this time we believe the cables were cut and this was a deliberate act of vandalism,” she said. The 52 millimeter haul rope was completely severed and the majority of cabins crashed to the ground. Teams are attempting to survey the entire lift line for clues and are asking the public to stay away. Technical Safety BC and Doppelmayr are also assisting with the investigation. Anyone with information on this crime is asked to call the RCMP at 604-892-6100.