Challenge Express – Blue Mountain, PA This Leitner-Poma six-pack replaced a Hall double in 2006. Towers 1 and 2 next to the drive terminal. Lift line overview. Loading area and maintenance rail. Tower 15. View down at T13. The return station up top. First few towers in the base area. View up the middle part of the line. Top station with tensioning. Another look down the line. Share this:EmailTwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading...
Don’t get me wrong, Blue Mountain is one of the best mountains in the state of PA, but this lift along with the whole mountain layout all together make me hate BM.
The lift lines get extremely long on weekends for this lift. Not only this, but the lift directly next to it, Comet Quad, (Poma 4 per. detach.) also gets busy, despite both of these lifts going to the almost the exact same spot. You can expect wait times to be at least 10 minutes, I have even waited 30+ in some cases they close down Comet Quad before closing, which this lift then becomes into a giant traffic jam with everyones destination is the summit lodge.
Not only this, but this lift has had many issues before. In the 2019/2020 ski season, from MLK day all the way to closing weekend, this lift was running almost as slow as the Hall/VR doubles on the mountain. This made comet quad have longer lift lines, along with Challenge Express also having extremely long lift lines. I never really knew what was wrong with it, but it was insanely annoying especially how it added to the already congested base area.
The lift lines to this lift sometimes get so busy, that there are barely anyone on the trails on some weekends due to the fact everyones waiting in lift lines.
I think the only solution to this in my opinion is the replacement of the Hall/VR doubles, or the Main Street/Burma doubles. These lifts run parallel to each other. They would have to upgrade these to a 4 or a 6 detach. lift in order to relieve any of the stress down at base area. I could see them maybe doing this far in the future, as these are the two lifts they open first (they open the summit area before the base area) and are in need of an upgrade, as they are from the 80’s, and don’t work too well sometimes. Not only this, but this could relieve the MASSIVE flat and even inclined area between Burma and the base area.
I doubt anyone will say anything to this as literally no one has ever commented anything here ever but we will see I guess
To your point about it’s slow operations in 19/20 – my friends an instructor in the poconos and mentioned that there were mechanical issues with the lift. They consulted Poma on the issues and even Poma wasn’t able to figure it out in season
LikeLiked by 1 person
I don’t know why they never open the slope on the east side of the quad. They always funnel everyone onto that one trail in between the high speed lifts and it is nuts. The whole run out at the bottom there is stupid; you waste time dodging people skiing slowly and nearly horizontally down it and then you waste time traveling almost completely horizontally across it on the lifts on the way back up.
Most of my experience at Blue Mountain has been Fridays nights and there usually has not been a long line for the quad then, and the double-doubles have usually been ski on, but I am aware that Blue gets really packed sat/sun.
Not sure if replacing the double-doubles with a high speed would accomplish a whole lot. They don’t really seem to go far enough to warrant a high speed lift; they cover a lot of vertical but are pretty steep and still get you to the top relatively fast, and the current capacity is already equivalent to a quad.
Blue’s trails are already packed with skiiers, people get run into all the time there, and I’m not sure that increasing their uphill capacity without increasing their amount of terrain dramatically would improve the experience that much. They already have 4+6 dumping out on the east summit and 2+2+2 on the west summit (which is just about as much as even the big places dump onto the summit way up north), and I can’t see skiing there being a good experience if there were any more people on the trail at any given time than there already are. I don’t know why that new trail they cut out like a decade ago still isn’t open.
High speed quads are expensive to operate and don’t last as long as fixed-grip; seems like Blue spends most of their effort on blowing snow 24/7. Honestly I could see a fixed grip quad being more likely than a 3rd high speed.
Just my opinions here. If you want to ski 1000 vertical feet on busy weekends without waiting in line I recommend riding the mile long joyride that is the Long Haul at Montage haha.
The capacity per chair of a lift isn’t an indicator of a lifts hourly capacity. The three doubles have a combined 3600 and the two detachables have a combined capacity of 5400, which is relatively high. Not all detachables sixes and detachable quads are high capacity like the ones at Blue Mountain.
LikeLiked by 1 person
They generally run them faster on weekends, I’ve seen challenge go real speedy before they had a bunch of problems with it last year. Comet normally runs the same, but sometimes runs a bit slow. Last year however Challenge was running pretty much at the same speed of the Burma Chair between MLK day and 2 days before the resort closed last year. This year, its been running a little faster on weekdays, and much faster during weekends. Before this though, you would easily be able to get to the top of Blue within 5ish minutes riding Challenge. Now, it takes around 8 or 7.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Finish Line/Frontier Alley (to rider’s left of the quad) is the overflow ski school area and has learning terrain features near the bottom built full width. That’s why it doesn’t open as a second connector. You’re right, it would take pressure off the choke point on Home Stretch, but ski school is another important use.
Today, when I went to Blue, they were running Challenge Express at a decently fast speed. I calculated that it was running around 835 FPM and took roughly five minutes to the top. Previously they would run it faster, and they had previously ran this lift at around 900 FPM normally and sometimes almost full speed on weekends, but with setbacks from previous years I assume they have been trying to keep the lift in good shape so they can keep Challenge of their primary lift out of the base area at Blue.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Comet Quad seems to run faster than Challenge, and the day I went, it had relatively short lines.
If only the old management of Blue took care of their equipment- thank god the new owners are in power!