News Roundup: Town Halls

Sun Peaks Plans West Bowl Detachable

An eighth Doppelmayr quad chairlift may soon join the Sun Peaks Resort lift fleet. The resort recently applied with the Province of British Columbia for right of way to build a mile long high speed quad in West Bowl, currently home to a disused T-Bar. Sun Peaks retired the West Bowl T-Bar in 2020, leaving the terrain hike-in only. The 1965 Hall was the last remaining non-Doppelmayr lift at Sun Peaks.

Now Sun Peaks plans a much longer detachable quad with an approximately 1,000 foot vertical rise. With a lower bottom terminal and higher top station, the West Bowl Express would significantly improve access to a large variety of underutilized terrain. The province is soliciting public comments on the project through June 24th. If approved, the new lift would be constructed in 2023 and 2024, opening for the 2024-25 ski season.

New Snowbird Tram Cabin Damaged During Installation

One of the new cabins being installed on Snowbird’s Aerial Tram fell Saturday during installation, causing significant damage. Thankfully the incident occurred in a closed construction area at the base of the mountain and no one was injured. Snowbird said the root cause was some sort of equipment malfunction. “An investigation is under way to determine where the malfunction occurred,” the resort said in a statement. Upgrades to the tram are being carried out by Doppelmayr/Garaventa, the original manufacturer of the tram. The project includes new cabins with rooftop viewing decks, new controls, bullwheels and other upgrades.

The modern red and blue cabins were manufactured in Switzerland by CWA Constructions and had just arrived in Utah. Snowbird said Doppelmayr and CWA will work to replace the likely damaged beyond repair red cabin in time for the 2022-23 winter season. Snowbird and Doppelmayr are also also working on a plan to have at least partial tram service for this summer. The tram was originally scheduled to re-open with new cabins in late June.

Aerial tram cabins are custom built with long manufacturing lead times. In 2012, an Alyeska tram car was destroyed after hitting a tower in high winds. Service resumed about six weeks later with one cabin and a second car was installed and operational about five months after the incident. In September 2018, a brand new tram cabin in Germany was written off following a training accident. That tramway reopened just over three months later with a newly-manufactured cabin from CWA.

News Roundup: Reopening Day

Charles Skinner to Acquire Michigan’s Big Snow

The owner of the largest ski resorts in Minnesota and Wisconsin will expand his portfolio to include one of the biggest ski areas in Michigan. Located in the Upper Peninsula, Big Snow Resort’s Blackjack and Indianhead mountains together feature more than a dozen lifts across 1,000 acres of land. Wisconsin developer Art Dumke has owned the mountains since 2014.

There’s no word yet whether Lutsen Mountains, Granite Peak and Big Snow will be combined onto a single pass product but that seems likely. “We are thrilled that these two historical, Upper Michigan ski areas, known for their prodigious powder snow, will be joining our legendary family of resorts in Minnesota and Wisconsin,” said Charles Skinner in a press release. “The current owner and his excellent staff have done a terrific job honoring the legacy of Indianhead and Blackjack and combining them into the largest ski area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We intend to build upon this work by investing in new lifts, snowmaking, and base area infrastructure at Big Snow.” Specific plans for investments at Big Snow will be announced later this summer. The two mountains currently feel like museums with most lifts and buildings dating back to the 1960s and ’70s.

Skinner also announced construction of a Leitner-Poma six place chairlift at Lutsen Mountains for the 2023-24 season. The second such lift there will run alongside Bridge chair, a 1972 Riblet double on Eagle Mountain.

The Big Snow sale is expected to close by the end of July, subject to financing and due diligence completion.

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