Cyclone – Sunrise Park, AZ

The second longest triple ever built in North America was retired in 2017.
A lone Doppelmayr tower.
Drive terminal.
Loading area. This was the 3rd of 5 Yans built at Sunrise in the 1980s.
Dropped counterweight.
Doppelmayr sheaves.
Most of the towers are full Yan.
Top terminal and last few towers.
Buried upper station.
There was a mid-station for repeat skiers; those looking to get over to Apache Peak rode to the top.
More hub cap sheaves.
Yan top bullwheel and operator shack.
Mid unload.
The short section above the midstation.
Towe 27.
Some sections still have comm line as of 2019.
A big breakover atop the steepest section.
The light side used to skip all of these towers.
Portal towers.
The top of the light side flyover.
Lower lift line.
The Doppelmayr tower.
Lift overview.

59 thoughts on “Cyclone – Sunrise Park, AZ

  1. cameron January 7, 2019 / 3:16 pm

    Why was it removed if it was an American record


    • New England Chairlifts/Skiing January 8, 2019 / 4:35 pm

      I heard it failed it’s inspection and it cannot Run. Also this lift didn’t have Yan chairs, it had doppy chairs. Looking at videos it seemed to have a good chair spacing, I’m having a Hard time believing there were 352.


      • New England Chairlifts/Skiing January 8, 2019 / 4:41 pm

        The main factor actually is the cable was faulty. Sunrise estimated it to cost $500,000 to repair it, which they couldn’t afford.


        • Stevejetman January 17, 2019 / 5:55 am

          The main reason was that while a Lift Maint Tech from Sunrise was doing some work to it in 2017 something faulty happened and he was killed. After that they were under considerable scrutiny because of the accident and they chose not to fix it as it would have cost a lot of money. I live here in the Phoenix area and I have skied here plenty of times as well as near Flagstaff at Snowball. So sad as Sunrise was the premier ski area here in Arizona in the 80’s and 90’s. no more.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Sam A. January 8, 2019 / 7:50 am

    With the light side skipping all of those towers, I assume that this lift had a very low downhill capacity…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. BRIAN WARD April 17, 2019 / 12:08 pm

    So sad to see this ski area in general fall into its current state of disrepair. This used to be the premier ski area in Arizona. Not anymore.


    • Stevejetman April 17, 2019 / 3:19 pm

      I agree Brian. I ski’ed here in the 80’s, 90’s and into the 2000’s. It was the best one until then but then Snowball caught up to them and passed them big time. Now I go to Snowbowl. Way better.


      • BRIAN WARD April 17, 2019 / 6:58 pm

        By default we will continue to go and endure the conditions. My folks have a house in Pinetop which makes it way too convenient. We went to the Snowbowl for the first time in 30 years about a month ago on a Monday and I was blown away at the changes. That said, I will NEVER go to the Snowbowl on a weekend.


        • Steven Melillo April 18, 2019 / 6:53 am

          I agree. I never ski Snowbowl on the weekend. It’s crazy up there. I always ski there during the week. Just so you know I used to love Sunrise. We used to stay the night in Pintop and the town is beautiful and the people are friendly. I miss the Sunrise back in the day because of the 3 mountains, etc. I am sad it has gone downhill. The Tribe needs to hand it over to a Management Company and let them take it over because they aren’t doing a good job at all. Snowbowl is making a lot of improvements and the lifts are incredible. I love the upper bowls too above the tree line skiing.


    • Tom November 26, 2021 / 4:47 pm

      Yeah too bad. It could be an awesome resort but it is so run down now. Cyclone would be a good candidate for a remove and replace. Maybe time for the tribe to think about leasing to an Alterra or similar. The lease of Winter Park seems to have worked well for the City of Denver. I’ve always thought it should be a big money maker for the White Mountain Tribe, such beautiful country, but in desperate need of modernisation…


  4. Stevejetman April 17, 2019 / 3:20 pm

    The main reason was that while a Lift Maint Tech from Sunrise was doing some work to it in 2017 something faulty happened and he was killed. After that they were under considerable scrutiny because of the accident and they chose not to fix it as it would have cost a lot of money. I live here in the Phoenix area and I have skied here plenty of times as well as near Flagstaff at Snowball. So sad as Sunrise was the premier ski area here in Arizona in the 80’s and 90’s. no more.


    • Augie Eischen November 29, 2021 / 7:16 am

      That accident occurred on Lift #4 . Not lift 6.


    • Kyle W. April 30, 2019 / 4:16 am

      The Northeast Passage triple at Killington was 9243 ft long before it was truncated into the Sunrise triple.


    • Brian April 30, 2019 / 11:54 am

      This ski area is run by the White Mountain Apache tribe. You would think that as a sovereign nation and the favorable tax status that one would presume that goes with it that they would have the cash to replace this chair like they did on the main Sunrise Mountain 20 years ago. Sadly, having watched this place fall into disrepair since then I don’t see it happening anytime soon.


      • Somebody April 30, 2019 / 6:16 pm

        Can you still ski most of the trails in this pod without the lift?


        • Peter Landsman April 30, 2019 / 6:18 pm

          It’s a 15-20 minute trek to get out there involving some uphill travel. I had one of the best powder runs of my season taking these pictures!

          Liked by 2 people

  5. powderforever July 21, 2019 / 6:15 pm

    Will they be able to afford a HSQ or will they have this area have no lift


    • Donald Reif October 21, 2019 / 1:31 pm

      Is $10 million reasonable or kinda cheap for a HSQ?


      • powderforever45 October 21, 2019 / 5:38 pm

        Kinda cheap considering Snow Bowl at Stratton was $7,112,862 and it was only 4606 ft long.


  6. AvocadoAndy July 21, 2019 / 6:25 pm

    This doesn’t strike me as a resort in a particularly sound financial situation. I think their best bet is to try to find something used, and typically speaking that wouldn’t be a detach.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ryan March 25, 2021 / 10:49 pm

    It’s a shame that SkyTrac can’t get their hands on this, they could upgrade and re-purpose it somewhere else. Same with Eagle Feather. I can think of a few places in Utah alone that could benefit from these two. Plenty of places east of the Rockies that could use some upgrades or replacements with a Yan/Doppie/Sky Trac hybrid.


    • Michael March 26, 2021 / 8:02 am

      Sky Trac is not in the business of buying and selling lifts. They do those upgrades for the customer.


      • Utah Powder Skier March 26, 2021 / 8:13 am

        Skytrans does!


        • Michael March 26, 2021 / 10:41 am

          Yes, sort of…


  8. Brian Ward March 26, 2021 / 10:25 am

    What can you say about the White Mountain Apache Tribe and their management and ownership of Sunrise? It speaks for itself. It’s a governmental entity running what is normally a private business. There are sooo many hoops and hurdles that a private ski area must go through: environmental approvals, forest service permits and lease agreements/payments, federal and state taxes and regulations just to name a few. What if any of theses hoops must the ownership of this ski area go through?

    In their recently released “master plan” for the future they have pencilled in a mountain village and replacement chair lifts. However, it’s predicated on getting government grants. I’ll refrain from commenting on the concept of government grants being given to ski areas.


    • Daniel N November 25, 2021 / 7:47 pm

      I don’t really think thats the reason. I’ve seen great improvement at Giant’s Ridge and Spirit Mountian (MN) both of which are owned by government bodies. I’m also impressed at how Ski Apache has bounced back post-fire, (which happens to be owned by another Apache native tribe)

      It seems to be something tribe or resort specific. I do agree they have messed up quite impressively considering they are the largest resort in their state :/

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Randy November 24, 2021 / 2:20 pm

    While reading through their Facebook page today, they said on a comment 2 days ago that “We are currently planning to reopen Cyclone lift next season then we will assess other lift projects after.”


    • Carson November 24, 2021 / 2:30 pm

      Wonder if there going to refurbish the lift


    • Donald Reif November 24, 2021 / 10:27 pm

      Will be interesting to see what they mean by that. Reburishment or replacement. To me, refurbishment would probably mean new sheaves and chairs from Doppelmayr, and possibly a new drive terminal. Replacement could mean completely replacing the towers too, or going detachable. But refurbishment seems the more likely route.


      • Ryan November 25, 2021 / 5:48 am

        always happy to see an old lift brought back to life.


      • pbropetech November 25, 2021 / 8:32 am

        It says ‘reopen’. Doesn’t even say refurbish or anything. Obviously they’ll need a new rope, but other than that they’ll most likely go through everything like bearings, brakes, grips, and carriers and such. I would guess it’ll be a more intense version of summer maintenance.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Andy November 25, 2021 / 9:35 am

          Most likely reopen also means refurbish, as in replace sheave train assemblies. Look at the photos. Chairlift made new by YAN in the 80’s . Lots of aluminum parts on those assemblies, probably the reason why the lift had to be mothballed in the first place. Probably no money at the time to bring the lift up to current code.. Let’s hope they can get the lift back up to standards. Looks like nice terrain. My two cents.


        • pbropetech November 25, 2021 / 12:48 pm

          I looked at them. While those aren’t everyone’s favourite assemblies they’re probably serviceable. Full replacement isn’t cheap and most ski areas aren’t exactly sitting on a pile of cash. Also, there’s nothing in the code that says they can’t use them.


        • Augie Eischen November 29, 2021 / 6:42 am

          Who ever took the old rope off created a lot more work to install a new rope.

          Liked by 4 people

        • 199412vcummins November 30, 2021 / 10:12 pm

          I believe the old rope was damaged.


        • pbropetech November 30, 2021 / 11:02 pm

          He knows.


      • Brian November 25, 2021 / 9:41 am

        The tribe blew an opportunity to get a chairlift for free courtesy of you and I, and all of the other tax payers out there. After all, isn’t a chairlift “infrastructure”? Their master plan which was drafted and released a couple of years ago outlining a future base “resort” was predicated on getting a grant from the feds.


  10. Augie Eischen November 26, 2021 / 8:10 am

    Having worked in Lift Maintenance at Sunrise,
    •cyclone lift was retired due to haul rope related issues .
    • cyclone had Dopplemayr chairs on line . Only half the original Yan Had.
    • the lift maintenance fatality occurred on lift 4 , not on lift 6 cyclone. After lift 6 was retired.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. skitheeast December 1, 2021 / 12:37 am

    Realistically, this lift needs to go detachable when it returns. The ride time is too long for a fixed-grip in this day and age, so most skiers would ignore it altogether and it would not be a worthwhile investment (think Galaxy’s replacement at Heavenly). The White Mountain Apache Tribe has the money, even if they have not really invested in the mountain over the past 20+ years (their Hon-Dah Casino is doing well).


    • Somebody December 1, 2021 / 12:02 pm

      The difference is that Cyclone is the only/best expert terrain at Sunrise Park, whereas Galaxy was supporting an already saturated market of intermediate terrain. People will ride fixed grips for 10-15 minutes for hard powder or bump runs. Keep in mind too that the 8000 foot length is including the last ~2000 foot section after the midstation, which most people wouldn’t ride.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Donald Reif December 1, 2021 / 10:09 pm

      If Cyclone were to go detachable, it would be more practical to do a split similar to how Silver Star handled replacing their Yan HSQs in 2002. Putnam Creek was 9,525 feet long with a 2,060 foot vertical climb, but the 2,545 feet of lift line above the mid-unload only covered 122 vertical feet. So when Putnam Creek was replaced, it was split into two lifts, with Powder Gulch only running to the mid-unload and the Home Run T-Bar covering the rest of it.

      Cyclone would be in a similar situation. Ideally, the way I’d handle such a split is slightly different from how Silver Star did it. In this case, I’d do two high speed quads: Lower Cyclone, covering the triple’s lift line but ending at the mid-unload. And Upper Cyclone, starting at the bottom of Typhoon and running up to the triple’s return station.

      The result is that Lower Cyclone would be for lapping the black trails, while Upper Cyclone would be for lapping the blue and green trails. Although both would serve Typhoon, Phoenician, and Chubasco.


      • Somebody December 2, 2021 / 12:54 am

        Two High speed quads is way over-ambitious for Cyclone. Upper Cyclone would end up being a pod in the absolute corner of the resort, serving blue/green terrain. Edge pods serving that type of terrain tend to see little traffic. It’s far more likely you’d see a HSQ in the lift 4/5 area than two in Cyclone.

        Given their financial state and how they’ve acted in the last 15-20 years, I’d be very surprised to even see any new detachable here, and putting one in the corner would be an odd move.


        • Donald Reif December 2, 2021 / 5:32 am

          I’ll admit Geronimo seems likelier to go the route of a HSQ, since it’d be possible to not only replace Geronimo, but also allow Eagle Feather to be dismantled.

          Maybe with Cyclone the cheapest thing to do would be outfit the lift with a loading carpet.


      • Shit Cyclone December 3, 2021 / 12:53 am

        Comical. It will be a miracle if the tribe gets cyclone running as is. I’d gamble on them
        not doing shit to cyclone vs gambling at their casino. Way better odds. It was just last year they where promising a bunch of lifts and a gondola. Talk is cheap and the tribe hasn’t proven them selves honest or able to execute. No way they are building one, much less two high speeds here. This place is just circling the drain with no direction and terrible management. It’s such a shame because this mountain has so much potential. Definitely more than Snowbowl which is thriving under MCP management and investment. Last year sunrise opened end of December closed early March right around the biggest storm of the season… Not even 3 months open and definitely not for lack of snow. Snowbowl opened mid November and went into May… TWICE the season length. The tribe spent a shit load of money suing Snowbowl when they should of spent it on maintenance and upgrades to stay competitive with snowbowl. It definitely shows. The best thing that could happen here is for a resort operator that knows how to manage ski resorts and is not incompetent/corrupt/tribe lackey to take over and run this place. Arizona/Phoenix can definitely support another well run resort.


        • Connor December 3, 2021 / 11:23 am

          Why do you hate this resort so much? We really don’t need to hear you complaining about how they won’t do jack, because they literally announced it themselves that they will try to get the lift running again, so that means there is a good chance it will happen. Everyone would appreciate it if you kept that stuff to yourself.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Donald Reif December 3, 2021 / 3:56 pm

          Again, your username checks out. You’re like the opposite of Paul Wanders.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Brian Ward December 3, 2021 / 4:31 pm

          Sadly having been skiing here since the early 70’s as a kid I saw this place go from one mountain, one chairlift and one rope tow to it’s pinnacle around 2000 when the Sunrise high speed quad was installed, to the sad state that it’s in today. It’s hard to understand, except that the only explanation I can think of is mismanagement, the condition of the ski area today. And this is another year, and from what I understand, another management company in what has been a revolving door of management companies. As much as many folks talk smack about this ski area (and said smack is well earned), we have a love/hate relationship with this place and we keep coming back out of convenience. When it was announced that Cyclone would be resuscitated my thought were “why?” and “i’ll believe it when I see it”. In the last year or so there was a grand plan floated about detailing a full what I would call a “resort makeover”, with new lifts and a base village, all predicated on getting a government grant (WTF – tax dollars???). This place does not have the constraints of a private business. Heck, look at the license plates on their vehicles, they aren’t Arizona plates, their US government plates. My bet, and I hope I am wrong, is that they run this place into the ground and walk away. It’s slowly happening piece by piece. Remember the midway lodge on Apache? Burned to the ground and never rebuilt. Anyone seen any new paint on any of the buildings or lift towers? They put in the zip line, but when we were there last summer it wasn’t operating (unless we were there when it wasn’t scheduled to be operating). As long as they stay open, and no one dies due to faulty equipment, we will continue to buy our season passes every year.


        • Shit Cyclone December 3, 2021 / 6:25 pm

          I love Sunrise. It used to be far and away the best resort in Arizona. Skied there a ton as a kid growing up as Snowbowl was a pretty rundown and had no snow making or investment before MCP(snow making that the the tribe fought them on). Sunrise has amazing potential and IMO better terrain/layout than Snowbowl, especially during a boom Arizona snow year. Arizona/Phoenix can easily support another Ski Resort beside Snowbowl(Lemmon doesn’t really count). The problem here is not terrain, or potential customers/customer base. It is the management of the tribe. And that is my issue issue. They have run this place into the ground with years of broken promises and a string of General Managers(including the current one) that are all corrupt inept tribe cronies who know nothing about skiing or running a ski resort. Main qualification is a relationship to the tribe. No investment, no improvements, no maintenance, a shorter and shorter ski season. They really just don’t seem to care. That is my issue and it makes me sad and angry. They closed last year in early march with 2+ ft of new snow and more on the way. Not even open for 3 months or till the spring equinox(end of winter). Half the season of Snowbowl. If they had a history of actually delivering on announcements I might take them seriously. An announcement from them is just words at this point. What happened to the Chondola they announced last year? Or the master plan they announced the year before that? Or rebuilding the lodge that burned down. It’s been this way for a long long time. Every year they announce an improvement or actually doing maintenance/rebuilding something in the Fall, then they do nothing and the next year it becomes more derelict with new different announcement the following fall. When does one stop believing them? The best thing that could happen here is an actual ski resort operator takes over. Someone with passion for skiing and knowledge of ski resort operations. Just look what it has done for Snowbowl. Doubt that will happen though, the tribe seems content running it into the ground as Brian said. My biggest hope is they prove me wrong and restore this place to its former glory. Getting cyclone running again would certainly be a step in that direction. The 2 high speeds Donald is proposing along with the Chondola they proposed last year, and the new lifts plus general improvements they proposed in their master plan 2 years ago would be amazing sauce. All great ideas ideas/announcements that would transform the resort. But at this point them actually fixing cyclone is questionable in my mind based on past performance. At this point not loosing any more lifts to neglect and a ski season over 3 months would be a win in my book.


        • AZSKIER December 3, 2021 / 6:45 pm

          Shit talker is not wrong. The tribes management of sunrise has been terrible for along time. Hopefully they fix this lift, but he is not the only one who is skeptical.


      • Connor December 3, 2021 / 11:27 am

        At that point, make it one high-speed lift. It only makes sense because two whole new lifts will be much more expensive than a few more towers and chairs to a bit longer high-speed lift. Your idea is already pretty ambitious considering how they have been struggling financially.


      • teejaywhy January 21, 2022 / 11:37 am

        Question: I’ve only visited Cyclone once, early on when first opened. I remember a long ride for a short payoff. I suppose that could be mitigated by new high-speed lift. In any case, do those runs on the west facing aspect retain enough snow to be open much? I know the runs off the west face of the Sunrise ridge are rarely open.


  12. Donald Reif December 4, 2021 / 3:36 pm

    I do wonder when Doppelmayr installed that one tower. It looks like it’s of the same vintage as Sunrise Express’s towers, so might’ve been added around 1997.

    For comparison:


  13. SirSheavesAlot January 10, 2022 / 6:11 pm

    For what it’s worth — I asked them about it on Facebook and got this answer:

    “Yes we are working to get the Cyclone Lift repaired this summer for operation next year. We’re pretty sure it is the longest 3 chair lift in the country. It is a bit old, so there is a chance repairs may not be possible, so we will see.”

    Hope they can pull it off. This lift has a lot of character. I don’t have a fear of heights, but looking up at the light side way up in the air when you’re going under those portal towers gave me this creepy vertigo feeling.


    • Brian January 10, 2022 / 6:38 pm

      I’ll believe it when I see the haul rope haulin’ skiers up the mountain. That said, they put it back on their map.


  14. Brian January 21, 2022 / 1:29 pm

    Well, Cyclone was not on their map last year, now this year it is. However, we were there last weekend and the rumors of even a haul rope being strung between the towers, like the line on the map, ARE FALSE. Lucky for the tribe, we are Arizona residents who spend lots of time in PInetop. And because of that, some might say by default, we will continue to go. If chef Gordon Ramsey were a skier he would be shouting, “WHAT THE EFF!!! YOU CALL THIS A SKI AREA?!?!? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!? YOUR WASTING MY TIME!!!


  15. Ryan June 15, 2022 / 11:16 pm

    Anything new regarding the mountain working on getting Cyclone running again?


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