News Roundup: Intentions

  • Poma breaks ground on Medellín’s sixth urban gondola line as Doppelmayr prepares to open La Paz’s sixth on March 24th.
  • Gearbox issue strikes Camp Fortune, Quebec and 130 guests are roped off a Blue Mountain quad chair.
  • As Beantown weighs a gondola, Boston Globe staff travel to experience Leitner’s Mexicable.
  • Boyne Resorts acquires six mountain resorts plus the Gatlinburg Sky Lift it leased from CNL Lifestyle Properties and later Och-Ziff Capital Management.  “This opportunity will enable us to accelerate and fine tune the execution of our reinvestment plans for these spectacular properties, which will boost our competitive advantages and support our focus on continuous enhancement of the guest experience,” says Boyne President Stephen Kircher.
  • Don’t let this go unpunished at your resort.
  • The Australian man who was supposed to buy Maine’s third largest ski resort is caught on tape saying, “We’re not going to deliver on Saddleback,”  “Opening the mountain is not a primary concern for us,” and  “We’re not going to lose any sleep with regards to it,” acknowledging it was mostly about cashing in on the EB-5 immigrant investor program.
  • Triple Peaks’ Okemo, Crested Butte and Mt. Sunapee join the Epic Pass through a long-term alliance with Vail Resorts.
  • Anti Edmonton gondola editorial argues “challenges to a gondola could include its operational reliability in a harsh winter climate.”  Guess again.

News Roundup: Never Ending

  • Arizona Snowbowl files paperwork with the Coconino National Forest to replace the Agassiz lift with a combination Telemix/chondola as soon as this summer.
  • Bromont in Quebec looks to build a Doppelmayr six place chair in place of its 1985 vintage detachable.
  • It’s not every day you read about lifties being caught in an avalanche at the bottom of a high-speed quad.  Thankfully no one was injured.
  • I’m thinking President Trump’s 25 percent tariff on imported steel (and 10 percent for aluminum) will have negative implications for the ski lift business, though Mexico and Canada are exempted for now.
  • Doppelmayr Canada seeks an experienced construction manager for its four lift megaproject at Whistler Blackcomb.
  • Triple double Massachusetts mountain Bousquet is on the block.
  • Tenney Mountain opened for skiing yesterday for the first time in eight years.
  • When a T-Bar turns into a chairlift
  • Doppelmayr pitches a 3S gondola to connect Oakland with Alameda Island in San Francisco Bay.
  • Antelope Butte’s two Riblets will see significant work this summer in advance of a possible reopening.
  • Another viral video shows a child falling from a lift at Bear Mountain.
  • Edmonton gondola idea wins a design competition, beating hundreds of other entries.
  • New owner of Mt. Norquay eyes building a gondola from Banff for improved access.
  • Vail Resorts posts strong second quarter results with net income up 58 percent and lift revenue up 6.6 percent despite skier visits dropping 4.9 percent. In addition, Vail is raising its corporate minimum wage to $12.25.
  • Doppelmayr proclaims Big Sky’s upcoming 8-seater the most technologically advanced lift the company has ever delivered.

Epic Pass Adds Six Canadian Resorts + Telluride, Ikon Gains Five, Mountain Collective Scores Big Sky

The latest battle in the 2018-19 season pass war is being waged to the north.  Vail Resorts today announced the Epic Pass will now include up to seven days at six mountains owned by Resorts of The Canadian Rockies – Fernie, Kicking Horse, Nakiska, Kimberley, Mont-Sainte-Anne and Stoneham.  The addition of these MAX Pass refugees follows Alterra’s recent announcement that Revelstoke, Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, Mt. Norquay and Sugarbush will join the new Ikon Pass.  In addition, Telluride has defected from the MCP to join Epic and Ikon partner Big Sky Resort will also join the Mountain Collective.

The 10th anniversary Epic Pass will go on sale tomorrow with access to 21 North American destinations with 284 lifts.  It will offer unlimited skiing with no blackout dates at Vail Resorts owned mountains and a limited number of days at partner properties like Telluride.  Epic Passes will also offer access to international resorts including Hakuba Valley, Japan; Perisher, Australia; and Val d’Isère, France.  In theory, you could hit a crazy 61 resorts on this pass.  Pricing is still pending.

The 2018-19 Mountain Collective Pass is on sale now for $409 and includes up to 33 days at 16 destinations, most of which are unchanged from last year (Telluride is out, Big Sky in.)  The MCP includes access to 19 separate mountains in North America with 231 lifts and 50 percent off days after the first two.  Most Mountain Collective destinations are also on the new Ikon Pass for those seeking more days.

The Ikon Pass offers unlimited access to most of Alterra Mountain Co.’s resorts with limited access to Deer Valley and numerous partner resorts.  The flagship pass will cost $899 with a blackout date version for only $599.  Ikon includes the most North American options by far with 32 mountains and 400 lifts.  It’s not quite as many as the defunct MAX Pass (45 mountains, 435 lifts) but Ikon offers many more days at higher-caliber places.  The Ikon also goes on sale tomorrow.


Killington to Add Bubble Six-Pack, South Ridge Quad & New K-1 Cabins

Powdr Co. will invest a whopping $16 million on lift improvements at Killington Resort this summer, adding two new chairlifts and upgrading the cabins on the K-1 Express Gondola.  The Snowdon Quad will be replaced with Vermont’s fourth six-place bubble chair, turning the current 10-12 minute jog into a four-and-a-half minute minute blip.  This new flagship lift will move 3,000 guests per hour and feature bubble chairs along with indoor parking.  “While we are committed to staying core to our beastly advanced terrain, we are also putting the focus on our blue family-friendly terrain.” says Mike Solimano, president and general manager of Killington Resort in a release. “The investments we’re making will re-shape the guest experience for years to come. Uphill capacity will increase to 48,000 per hour and the downhill enhancements will create more diverse terrain for all levels of skiers and riders.”  Built by built by Leitner-Poma of America, the new Snowdon lift will be similar to the bubble sixers at Mt. Snow and Okemo.

The old Snowdon quad, which used a mix of new and used Poma parts when it was built in 1987, will move to South Ridge.  A triangle-shaped Yan there stopped carrying skiers in 2011 and the terrain hasn’t been directly serviced since.  The new quad will follow the downhill alignment of the old triple and feature new hangers, grips and electrical controls.

K-1 will see all new Sigma Diamond 8 cabins to replace the CWA Omegas from 1997 along with a new haul rope.  Stratton’s gondola received the same cabins in 2014 and Killington will keep K-1s cabins as spares for Skyeship 1+2.  Powdr will also finally complete the gondola’s cabin parking facility so the shiny new cabins can be stored inside.

The new lift and two relocations will cost $7.8 million with the gondola upgrades totaling $2.2 million.  If all that wasn’t enough, the Beast of the East is also going to add Axess RFID ticketing for 2018-19, relocate the Snowdon Poma (built in 1958!) to Ramshead and make significant trail improvements.  These moves represent the largest capital program at Killington in more than 20 years – since the American Skiing Company days.  Welcome to lift announcement March!


News Roundup: Back Up

  • Berkshire Bank seeks to foreclose on the Hermitage Club, saying the private ski area owes $16.6 million on $17.1 million in loans taken out between 2014 and 2017.
  • Hunter Mountain apologizes to season pass holders and explains in detail why two of its lifts went down for much of Presidents’ Week.
  • Mt. Snow’s Bluebird Express is down with a damaged gearbox.
  • Similar story for Cypress Mountain’s Lions Express, which reopened on Tuesday.
  • Harmony at Whistler also went down for much of last week..
  • Big Sky’s Six Shooter was rope evacuated last week, sparking an interesting conversation about why that lift turns a few degrees.
  • HeliOps profiles Brian Jorgenson of Timberline Helicopters, who explains why even at $1.50 per second, the UH-60 Black Hawk has become the gold standard for western ski lift missions.
  • The largest urban gondola system in North America will open this May in Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic.
  • Boston’s proposed Seaport gondola has a new route.
  • A conference center in Wisconsin called Forest Springs plans to expand its ski area with a new chairlift.
  • Silver Star’s new gondola is on track for a rare July opening with the top terminal and all foundations complete.

Windham Mountain Announces Six-Pack for 2018-19

A base-to-summit six-passenger chairlift is coming to Windham Mountain in the Catskill Mountains of New York.  The mile-long Doppelmayr system will replace the Whistler triple, a 1983 VonRoll triple with a ten-plus minute ride.  A parallel detachable quad called Whirlwind, built by Garaventa CTEC in 1993, will remain in place at least through this summer.  Windham also revealed today it will launch RFID ticketing across its seven lifts next season and Doppelmayr now has at least a dozen lifts to build in the United States and Canada this year.

Current Windham Mountain trail map.

The Catskill region has seen a number of big new lifts recently, including a gondola at Belleayre and six-pack at nearby Hunter Mountain.  Peak Resorts could build another new high-speed lift at Hunter in 2018, raising the bar for the entire region.  Windham’s announcement comes after two very quiet months for new lift news, with hopefully a bunch more to come this spring.


News Roundup: Ahead

  • Doppelmayr and CWA unveil world’s most luxurious gondola cabin with air conditioning, a fridge and more powered by carriage wheel generators.
  • The five chairlift Hermitage Club lays off 50 to 80 employees and cuts ski operations to weekends only, a result of significant financial challenges.
  • Children fall from lifts at West Mountain and Windham Mountain.
  • 2022 Winter Olympics host China is up to an impressive 236 ski areas with at least one chairlift.
  • Woodward Park City remains in limbo pending the outcome of three appeals.
  • Theme park projects such as the Doppelmayr-supplied Hogwarts Express and Disney Skyliner drive record revenue for PCL Construction of Edmonton.
  • There was a deropement followed by partial rope evac of the triple chair at Red Lodge Mountain over Presidents’ weekend.
  • Apres Vous at Jackson Hole was evacuated yesterday following a gearbox issue.
  • Sunday River reveals why it takes 3.5 hours to put cabins back on the Chondola after a windstorm.
  • Here’s more construction eye candy from Disney World.
  • Stella, the only six-pack in Idaho, was named and themed by a former Disney imagineer.
  • Catch up on the upcoming season pass battle and what else lies ahead for Alterra with company President Dave Perry.
  • Speaking of the Ikon Pass, it now includes 400 lifts with new partners Revelstoke, Sugarbush, Sunshine Village, Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay for $899.

News Roundup: Stories


News Roundup: On the Block

  • Alterra’s David Perry says significant capital is likely be spent at Steamboat in 2018 and 2019 with phase two of the gondola rebuild and other big projects on the table.
  • A Denver TV reporter heads to Texas for a two-part interview with the husband of Kelly Huber, the woman killed during a lift malfunction last year at Granby Ranch.
  • Two loaded chairs collide at Owl’s Head, Quebec after the Green Chair was pressed into rare operation amid downtime on a neighboring high-speed quad.  The 1972 Heron-Poma is the former Big Hitch lift from Stagecoach, Colorado.
  • China Peak’s owner wishes he still had the $900,000 he spent to build a new lift last summer that can’t open with no snow.
  • The new Peak triple was rope evac’d at Pats Peak last Monday, apparently due to a gearbox issue.
  • Poma dedicates its newest factory in France.
  • Disney Skyliner’s first tower is up and it’s tapered in the cool Wolfurt style.
  • Ian Cumming, founder of Powdr and majority owner of Snowbird, dies at age 77.
  • Granite Gorge’s chairlift opens for the season after a gearbox issue and other problems.
  • Ariel Quiros officially settles with the Securities and Exchange Commission for $82 million, paving the way for the sale of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain.
  • The world’s longest lift is open!
  • Killington formally applies to replace the South Ridge triple with a quad chair, manufacturer unknown. The sample profile confusingly shows a Poma Alpha drive and Doppelmayr Eclipse return terminal.
  • Teton Pass, Montana won’t reopen under current ownership and is up for sale.
  • Skier visits have declined 30 percent in South Korea over the last five years and there are several lost ski resorts in the Olympic region.
  • The Sawtooth National Forest tentatively approves Sun Valley’s project to replace the Cold Springs lift with a longer high-speed quad as soon as this summer.
  • A chairlift will be studied studied for one of Alabama’s most popular state parks.
  • Alterra names Mammoth veteran Rusty Gregory as the company’s first CEO.

News Roundup: Firsts