Chair 4 – Silver Mountain, ID

Approaching the mid-load station.
Looking down the lower section of the lift line.
Bottom vault drive terminal.
Top unload.
Mid-load station.
Looking down the upper lift line.
Lift line near the summit.
Breakover towers.
Top tension bullwheel.
Special carrier for ski patrol sleds.
Midway load station.

23 thoughts on “Chair 4 – Silver Mountain, ID

  1. Spencer Meyer September 19, 2017 / 6:27 pm

    Did Riblet use the same tower/sheave design for all of its installations? Seems crazy to have a breakover feature that many towers. I’ve seen that on most of the Riblet chairs I’ve come across. I guess it would make manufacturing simpler.


    • Donald Reif June 24, 2019 / 2:37 pm

      At least 13 of the 38 towers are just for the breakovers.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Michael September 22, 2019 / 9:17 pm

      Up until about 1990 Riblet did not make a support sheave assembly that had more than 4 sheaves. So if the break over required 24 sheaves, they had to use 6 towers (6×4) where the other manufacturers would only use 3 (3×8).


      • Donald Reif September 23, 2019 / 11:57 am

        Actually, make that the early 1980s. As evidenced by the fact that Breckenridge’s Lift E (built in 1982) has sheave assemblies of 8 to 12 sheaves on the uphill side of its towers.


        • Skier o’ the Steeps November 18, 2019 / 5:40 pm

          Yeah, also Chair 4 at White Pass.


        • pbropetech January 21, 2020 / 11:16 am

          Those were most likely retrofits. I recall skiing that lift many years ago and they didn’t have them then.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Cameron Halmrast September 19, 2017 / 6:33 pm

    95% of them did. Riblet did experiment with a few different designs and those can be seen on the the Triple at Cuchara, Colorado, Peak 2 at Willamette Pass, Oregon and Naked Lady at Aspen Snowmass.


    • Benjamin Eminger September 22, 2019 / 6:08 pm

      Bruin Lift at Iron Mountain CA has the same design as Peak 2 at Willamette Pass, but Iron Mountain has been defunct since 1995, but all the lifts are still there.


  3. Donald Reif September 23, 2019 / 12:55 pm

    If a high speed quad replaced this, it would have to have a 90 degree load and run counterclockwise with the space limitations of that loading area.


    • powderforever45 January 21, 2020 / 6:38 am

      I think this would be the most likely to be upgraded to a HSQ because of length.


      • Donald Reif January 21, 2020 / 7:25 am

        This lift and Lift 2 seem to both look like suitable candidates for high speed quad upgrades.


        • che guevara January 21, 2020 / 3:21 pm

          I don’t think they have either the skier visit base or another revenue source to make a HSQ feasible. I think Silver struggles to maintain what they have now. The Spokane/Coeur d’Alene market “suffers” from ski resort over-capacity what with Mt. Spo, 49 North, Red Mtn, Schweitzer, Lookout and Silver all within a 2 hour drive time. If only Seattle had that problem their parking issues would be solved. But for the inland NW, there are bound to be some winners and losers given that 6 ski resorts serve a market one-quarter the size of the Seattle metro area. Schweitzer can afford anything, Lookout, Mt. Spo, 49 and Red can afford a mix of used and/or the occasional new lift. Silver gets the table scraps. It’s a shame since they all have great skiing.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Myles Svec February 14, 2021 / 11:13 pm

          Out of these Schweitzer is probably doing the best.


  4. theincsupport February 14, 2021 / 10:59 pm

    Is the drive of this thing under the lift at the bottom? Pretty unique


    • chasehausman February 15, 2021 / 12:45 am

      Yup. Bottom vault drive, actually pretty standard for Riblet in that era. Can be seen with several Riblets at Mt. Spokane and Mission Ridge.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. pnwrider April 18, 2021 / 5:14 pm

    Silver Mountain posted a few very old photos of this lift on their Instagram. Back in the day, the chairs were painted blue. You can also see the old blue color where the current red paint has chipped off.


  6. pnwrider April 24, 2021 / 7:22 am

    A couple weeks ago, I joined a group being lead by a member of the ski patrol, who was showing people the more hidden and out of the way terrain off of Wardner Peak and Silver Basin. The ski patrol had been with Silver Mountain for nearly three decades, and he was able to tell me some cool stories and history tidbits about the mountain!

    According to him (as well as seen on the old trail maps on, the midstation of this lift used to have both loading and unloading. However, probably twenty-something years ago, the head of ski patrol at Silver Mountain deemed that was unsafe, and going forward, only loading was allowed at the midstation. I’m curious how having both loading and unloading at a midstation on a Riblet fixed grip double would be configured; I’ve only ever seen midstation loading and unloading on gondolas!

    Back in the day, before the Gondola and Mountain House, people would have to brave that very long, twisty road up to the ski area. The parking lot and original lodge were located at the midstation of this chairlift. While that perilous drive was no longer necessary after 1990, the original lodge remained up for over two decades actually. The ski patrol said while he didn’t remember the exact years, he did recall that the lodge was still usable by skiers for a couple years after the massive 1990 expansion, with bathrooms and some food service. But a couple years after the Mountain House was constructed, the old lodge began having water supply issues, which apparently had to do with the new Mountain House. Soon, services began to cease at the old lodge, and eventually even the toilets stopped working. Silver Mountain responded by placing portable bathrooms outside the old lodge, but one time enough snow built up, it slid off the roof and destroyed all the porta-potties! After that, Silver Mountain promptly gave up on trying to utilize the old lodge, and it sat unused for many years before finally being torn down maybe a decade ago. A real shame in my opinion, because a lodge near Chair 4 seems incredibly convenient since this lift serves an entire half of the ski resort.

    The ski patrol also told me that once in a while, some clueless tourists will actually drive up to the ski resort on the old road and arrive at the midstation of Chair 4! I can confirm this as well, if you enter Silver Mountain into your GPS, it might very well take you up to the actual mountain instead of the resort parking lot at the bottom of the Gondola. Once in a while… Some tourists will unintentionally experience Silver Mountain the old school way, except now they’re greeted by a snowcat shop, and no lodge to get tickets or rentals!

    If you look on Google Earth, you can see the foundation of the old lodge close to the midstation of this lift. A snowcat shop sits in the middle of the old parking lot.

    My last question to the ski patrol was if Silver Mountain had any plans for new terrain and lifts. He said that while they don’t currently have any plans for terrain expansion, they have made their existing terrain more accessible through lots of glading over the years which he himself partook in. In regards to new lifts, he said: “We’ve talked about new chairlifts before, but we’ve never gone forward with it. It’s been that way ever since I got here”.

    On Silver Mountain’s Resort History page, you can actually see a color photo of the original lodge and parking lot filled with old school cars at the midstation of this lift, prior to the days of the Gondola and Mountain House. The page also mentions that at one point Silver Mountain had a massive terrain expansion planned in addition to a ski in ski out village, but those plans have been “put on permanent hold”.

    It’s interesting to speculate where those terrain expansions, new lifts and ski in ski out village would be. I wonder if Silver Mountain might see some improvements in the next few years, since their owner was willing to invest in a massive 6,650 foot, brand new detachable quad at nearby 49 Degrees North, which is the only other ski resort he owns. While people tend to be critical of Silver Mountain for not having invested much in the skiing experience for a while, instead opting to focus improvements on their village and non-skiing activities, their new owner seems to be willing to invest more than JELD-WEN. A longtime skier at Silver Mountain I chatted with said that the JELD-WEN years were rough compared to now.


    • Donald Reif April 24, 2021 / 7:26 am

      Schweitzer’s Chair 1 had a mid load and midunload.


    • Randy April 24, 2021 / 10:28 am

      Loveland’s chair 2 had both as well.


      • Donald Reif April 24, 2021 / 11:32 am

        That mid unload was added around 2012, as a stopgap while plans were being made to create a separate lift to replace the upper part.


    • Ryan Murphy April 24, 2021 / 7:01 pm

      Stadeli, not Riblet, but Prospector (1/A) at Showdown in Montana has both loading and unloading at the midstation. The station is configured primarily for unloading, and works in that regard like a normal midway unload. To load the chair at the mid, we sidestepped up the ramp, and waited at a 90 degree angle to the lift, like a normal mid load. You actually can’t see down the line super well, so the operator will just waive you out when there is an empty chair coming up the line. Chairs being unloaded at the mid cannot be loaded to be sent to the top, since it’s one singular station instead of two fully separate stations. Not the most efficient setup, but it’s Showdown, not Vail.


      • Chris April 25, 2021 / 1:04 am

        Is waiting in 90 degree angle normal for a fixed grip midload? All the ones I know in Austria load at more like a 45 degree angle.


    • Enumclaw kid April 25, 2021 / 12:05 am

      Nice write up!

      Crystal Mountain’s old Chair 4 (Quicksilver) had a mid unload and load, in that sequence riding up. You unloaded down and left, and loaded by sidestepping up a steep ramp. Had a big net to catch mis-loads.


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