Utah’s Sundance Announces Two New Lifts

The new owners of Sundance Mountain Resort have ordered two lifts to replace the mile-long Ray’s quad. A three station detachable quad will service Mandan Summit from the base village and a fixed grip quad will provide return access from the backside of the mountain. Both lifts will be manufactured by Doppelmayr USA and installed in advance of the 2021-22 winter season.

Built in 1995, Ray’s currently serves many purposes with a whopping four separate loading/unloading zones. An up and over lift, Ray’s follows a straight line between the base area and Red’s lift, thus not reaching the true Mandan Summit. Both new lift alignments will top out on the peak to better distribute skiers. The new high speed lift will also feature a mid-unload station for beginners. A ride from base-to-summit will last just seven minutes, down from 12+ without stops on Ray’s. The second lift returning from the backside will primarily be used for summer activities.

“I have wonderful memories of skiing the beautiful terrain of Mandan Summit on the old chairlift before 1995,” commented Chad Linebaugh, President and General Manager of Sundance. “We are thrilled for the addition of a new high-speed quad that will restore access to these amazing runs and views.” Other projects slated for this summer include additional snowmaking and parking.

Two private equity firms, Broadreach Capital Partners and Cedar Capital Partners, purchased Sundance Resort from Robert Redford in December 2020.

Devil’s Head to Build New Beginner Quad

Wisconsin’s Devil’s Head Resort will add a sixth fixed grip quad this summer, continuing a major reinvestment plan executed over the past ten years. The new Doppelmayr lift will replace two Hall chairlifts dating back to 1971 and 1975. Devil’s Head notes the new lift is just the beginning of a multi-year expansion plan to enhance the on-mountain experience for beginners.

Many Upper Midwest resorts experienced plentiful snowfall and high demand for skiing and snowboarding this winter and are looking to the future. The Devil’s Head project is the second lift addition announced by a Wisconsin resort for 2021-22. Trollhaugen also plans to add a new fixed grip chairlift to replace a Hall double.

High Speed Quad Coming to 49 Degrees North

The largest ski resort in the United States without a detachable lift is taking the plunge. 49 Degrees North today announced Doppelmayr will build a base to summit high speed quad chair this summer replacing the Bonanza #1 double. This transformative project will bring Washington’s second largest ski area into the 21st century. “An undertaking of this magnitude has been years in the making and we are excited to finally be able to share this news,” said Rick Brown, Director of Skier and Rider Services. “We want to thank our guests for their continued support and enthusiasm throughout the years and look forward to continuing to provide truly memorable mountain experiences for all.”

The detachable quad will span 6,644 feet, making it the longest chairlift in Washington State. It will rise approximately 1,850 vertical feet to Chewelah Peak with a ride time of just six and a half minutes. The yet-to-be-named lift will be installed with 900 horsepower, making it one of the largest projects in the country this year.

49 North’s new lift is expected to be completed in advance of the 2021/22 season, at which time Montana’s Discovery will become the largest US ski area without a high speed lift.

Le Relais to Replace Three Lifts with a Six-Pack

I always find this time of year exciting as ski resorts announce new lifts projects, many of which catch me by surprise.  This week we learned Le Relais Ski Centre, located just outside Quebec City,  will replace three lifts with a Doppelmayr six-pack capable of moving a huge 3,600 skiers an hour. Two T-bars (a 1960s Mueller and 1987 Doppelmayr) as well as a fixed-grip quad (1987 Doppelmayr) will be removed.

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A project like this would normally re-use existing towers tubes, but Le Relais has some crazy offset towers that support both their quad chair and 1987 T-Bar.  Thus the six-pack will get brand new towers in addition to 60 six-passenger chairs.  Slope length will be just under 3,000 feet with a vertical rise of 676′. The ride will take just three minutes at 5.1 m/s.  A Chairkit loading carpet is included in the $5+ million lift, which will be built at Doppelmayr’s plant just down the road in St. Jerome. Congratulations to Le Relais Ski Centre and the Beaulieu family on what’s sure to be a huge hit with guests.

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Lifts B, C and D will be removed.  Next season, Le Relais will operate two modern high-speed chairlifts and two platters.

Summer’s Heating Up

It’s been a great couple of weeks for Leitner-Poma since my last new lifts update.

South Face Village at Okemo is moving forward with its first lift.
South Face Village at Okemo is moving forward with its first lift.

  • The $200 million Timber Creek real estate development at Okemo is moving forward with their first lift which will be an Alpha quad.  Also at Okemo the Jackson Gore Express is getting bubble chairs to match the Sunburst Six that went in last summer.
  • For the first time since 1966, Snowmass will be Riblet-less.  Aspen Skiing Company moved the High Alpine replacement up by a year to this summer.    It will be an LPA detachable quad in a new alignment.
  • London Ski Club at Boler Mountain in Ontario is replacing their main lift, Columbia, with an Alpha fixed quad.
  • New Mexico’s James Coleman bought four ski resorts last winter and now he’s gone lift shopping.  Sipapu in New Mexico will get a new L-P beginner lift and Purgatory (No longer Durango Mountain Resort) announced the replacement of the Legends triple with an L-P detachable quad.
  • Squaw Valley is replacing the Siberia Express with an L-P six-pack.
  • Loveland announced a major lift realignment.  Chair 2 (Yan triple) will lose its upper half and be shortened to its mid-station.  The parallel 1970 detachable Poma lift will also be removed and Leitner-Poma will build a new “Ptarmigan” lift from the base of the Poma to the old summit of Chair 2.  I am not sure yet if this will be a triple or a quad.

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Summer 2015 New Lifts – Early Trends

Resorts are starting to close and construction season is upon us.  Many new lift projects have already been announced.  You can see the full list here.  After last year’s “win” by Leitner-Poma, Doppelmayr will return to dominate with at least 14 projects.  Remarkably almost all of them will be detachables – more on that later.  So far the only other confirmed projects are a Leitner-Poma detachable at Powderhorn, CO and 2 Leitner urban gondolas in Mexico City.  (Apparently these are being built by Leitner in Italy, not by Leitner-Poma in Grand Junction.)

Lifts by manufacturer-year
Last year was the only year since the merger with CTEC that Doppelmayr did not build the most lifts.

The overall lift construction trend continues downward.
The overall lift construction trend continues downward.

2015 also will be the first year since 2011 that more detachable lifts are built than fixed-grip lifts.  So far only 3 fixed grips have been announced.

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