Duncan Express – Tremblant, QC

This early ’90s Doppelmayr Uni model services the entire north side of the mountain.
Large drive station at the summit.
Breakover towers.
View down the nearly 8,000′ lift line.
View up the upper part of the lift.
Lower part of the line.
View up from near the base.
The first pitch.
Side view of the compact return terminal.
Large parking rail at the return.
Another view of the bottom terminal.

23 thoughts on “Duncan Express – Tremblant, QC

  1. Cameron Halmrast January 21, 2019 / 11:07 pm

    It looks like this lift was designed to have bubbles which never happened.

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  2. Teddy's Lift World January 22, 2019 / 4:54 am

    These early 90s UNI systems were much better than what Poma could offer you. 1989-91 Poma was still making the Competition terminal which was bulky and used a chain drive system which has been proven to be a maintenance nightmare. Sugarbush can hardly keep North Ridge running because it is always having mechanical trouble. At the same time, Doppelmayr was making the UNI drive that had tires in the terminal and a much more compact form factor. I’m sure that UNIs aren’t without their issues, but still, it seems like a much better alternative.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Collin Parsons January 22, 2019 / 11:54 am

      This lift has plenty of issues due to its age and higher hours. I think the Lowell Thomas upgrade has delayed the need to replace it on capacity, but it will need to be replaced due to age soon along with Soleil. I expect the replacements for both to be bubble 6 packs with Duncan having closer chair spacing than Soleil.

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      • skitheeast January 31, 2019 / 7:03 pm

        I would make the argument this lift should be replaced with an 8 pack. It always had long lines but the Ikon Pass has made Tremblant even more crowded this year and they really need more out of base capacity on the north side. I know its unlikely given the prevalence of 6 packs and there only being one 8 pack in North America, but it would be fantastic if Tremblant were to be bold and make the move.

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        • Collin Parsons January 31, 2019 / 7:09 pm

          Duncan would be a great spot for an 8. The times I’ve been to Tremblant this season were extremely cold and it wasn’t that crowded, but maybe there are enough days busy enough for there to be an 8. Regardless of whether 6 or 8, I think both lifts will be D-Line as that will be the only option (at least for bigger lifts) by the time they come up for replacement.

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        • Somebody January 31, 2019 / 7:19 pm

          8 packs aren’t that good. They only offer a small capacity boost over the highest capacity 6 packs. As soon as 8-packs are pumping up 4800 people per hour though, they will be much more practical. Stratton also could use an 8 pack on Amex and Ursa once they become more mainstream, then again, the slopes already are a circus on holiday weekends, the trails can only hold so many people. That’s the fundamental problem with just adding more and more capacity. At a certain point, the trails can’t hold the amount of people, and the resort needs to expand.

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        • Collin Parsons February 1, 2019 / 6:36 am

          Tremblant is not Stratton. There is far more trail acreage relative to lift capacity, and even if the lifts were upgraded it would be the same story.

          I see the capacity requirement to be 2800 for Soleil and 3200 for Duncan. If it is decided that 3600 is needed, then it would make sense to go to an 8. Loading 6 people every 6 seconds isn’t ideal.

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        • Peter Landsman February 1, 2019 / 6:38 am

          What do you mean Duncan gets long lines? There’s no one on it in these photos!

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        • Collin Parsons February 1, 2019 / 6:53 am

          The day Peter went was one of the coldest days of the year and extremely windy, so it was closed. I was there the two days prior and the lift was open, but few people were riding it because of how cold it was. On a normal weekend, it can have some of the longest lines at the resort.

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        • Peter Landsman February 1, 2019 / 7:03 am

          Yep I was joking. Somehow I was able to get photos of all the lifts despite only a few lifts actually being open that day.

          Liked by 3 people

        • Lucas DR February 1, 2019 / 7:49 am

          Alternatively, I know Tremblant was actually looking at another lift option that took a similar line to Duncan but only covered the top half of the mountain. It would start from around where Devil’s River runs into Jasey Jay and end close to the Duncan terminal. It would be great for people like me who enjoy the blacks over in that area! If they actually build it, they could get away with a lower capacity Duncan lift

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        • adrian1701 February 1, 2019 / 5:16 pm

          Tremblant’s acreage has enough capacity, but its summit region doesn’t. By my math, the capacity reaching the summit (excluding the lower half lifts) is almost 10,000 pph (9,880). On the busiest weekends of the year, the summit becomes unbearably crowded.

          The current understanding is that Duncan will be replaced with a bubble six within the next few years. 3600 pph is achievable, and I can’t really comment on their practicality since Tremblant has never had one. I’ve been to Ontario, though, and seen what Blue Mountain has done with high-capacity six packs; it seems to run rather well. An 8-pack is VERY expensive, which makes me suspect that Alterra will be reluctant to build one.

          As for an additional chair from the bottom of the advanced north-side pod, I think that’d be a nice idea! They’re fairly popular and the run-out to the base is painful (and far too often cold).

          If I were to suggest a bold move from Alterra, it should be targeted to the south side. A D-Line should be a signature lift, and the south side is substantially more popular than the north side. The gondola persistently receives the largest crowds of any lift, and the 2880 pph lift (which falls under that, since it’s never run at its design speed of 6 m/s) doesn’t cut it anymore. I’d like to see something along the lines of what Solden did – a high-capacity, D-Line 10-person gondola – that would be a true signature lift, and an unbelievable marketing boost for the resort.

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        • Collin Parsons February 1, 2019 / 5:44 pm

          By the time Duncan and Soleil are replaced, the D-Line may be the only product available (at least for bigger lifts). For 2019 in Europe it is already the only product.

          As I mentioned earlier, I see the capacity requirement for Duncan to be 3200 and 2800 for Soleil. Those can both be accomplished with bubble-6’s. No question the gondola will eventually need to be replaced, but I don’t think it will reach the end of it’s useful life for another 10 years or so. If they want to sell or relocate it, maybe it could be replaced earlier.

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        • somebody February 1, 2019 / 6:25 pm

          I don’t get the sudden bubble chair hype we’ve seen in the last few years. They are super expensive, get scratched up and ugly, and in the end perform worse in the wind. I’ve never been to Tremblant myself, but I know it is probably pretty cold, but considering its in the Northeast, I’d take a guess it also is pretty windy. Having to take two exposed lifts sounds a lot worse than one exposed lift. Upper mountain (specifically summit) bubble lifts aren’t very viable in the northeast. Its for the same reason gondolas aren’t. In Europe, they typically don’t have the same crazy winds the northeast has, so bubble lifts and above-treeline gondolas are much more viable.

          From my experience (and educated guesses), the stratton gondola is actually running ~60% of the times I go try to ride it. Now obviously thats a guess (and probably on the low side), but thats still pretty atrocious. In fact, it makes full mountain laps on cold+windy days not viable, because I’d have to take 2 chairs. And those are the exact days where I wish we had a quad or six-pack on that line. Now ask yourself, would you rather have a cold lift, or a warmer lift that only runs 60% of the times you need it? If a lift like this were replaced with a bubble, better get used to waiting in line at expo and lowell. And while you are waiting in that line, curse the bubble chairlift.

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        • Collin Parsons February 1, 2019 / 7:04 pm

          Big Sky and Southern Vermont are where the majority of bubble chairs are in North America. I don’t think there’s a problem building them there.

          Stratton’s gondola is possibly the worst designed lift in the world if talking about wind exposure. It’s far too high off the ground and the cabins are very boxy. You lose credibility comparing anything else to it. Duncan isn’t on hold nearly as much. In fact only two days I’ve skied there was it even delayed, and these were some of the coldest, windiest days I’ve skied in my life. I’m sure bubbles could be added to both Duncan and Soleil with little to no difference in how often the lifts run. In fact they’d probably run more because the current lifts are highly sensitive to temperature as most older detachables are. If they are closed for wind then it’s certainly not going to be as common as Stratton’s gondola and many people don’t ski those super cold and windy days anyways. That weekend when the lifts were delayed, I skied right onto all open non-gondola lifts all day both days.

          The reason why bubbles are becoming increasingly popular is because they are really good. You get the comfort and protection from the elements that you’d get with a gondola, but with the convenience of leaving your equipment on. I think the reason they haven’t caught on here as much as in Europe is as Doppelmayr FTW stated a while back: “most North American resorts don’t see the value in high end lifts, something that European resorts think is very important”. I think since 2010 (when Orange Bubble was installed at The Canyons), that more North American resorts are starting to see the value of bubble lifts and so we are seeing them built more often.

          Liked by 1 person

        • atc1701 February 2, 2019 / 10:09 am

          In contrast to Stratton, the profiles of the main lifts at Tremblant (the Telecabine and Duncan Express) are well planned out, so that the lifts are rarely on wind hold – no more than 5 days in a month, and usually less than that. I agree that bubbles probably won’t hinder the operation of the lifts, and they’re almost necessary on lifts of such length like Soleil and Duncan.

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  3. Collin Parsons February 26, 2019 / 8:28 pm

    Is this lift (and Soleil) highly susceptible to temperature? On days when it was extremely cold but not very windy I have observed this lift not running particularly fast and having frequent slows and stops. I feel like it must have something to do with the age of the lift. Newer technology is able to handle a wider range of temperatures better. Despite the weather and mechanical challenges I do like skiing off this lift. If it’s good weather and full speed it’s under 8 minutes to the top and I always seem to be able to find fresh snow in the glades to skier’s right. It’s also always the first and last lift I ride each day because I always park at the North Side.

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    • skitheeast February 5, 2021 / 6:15 pm

      I have never heard of a lift running slower in the cold, but I have heard of a lift not being able to run because it was too cold. I was at Stratton during a cold spell a couple of years back and the temperature dropped to around -20 degrees Fahrenheit at the base, which they said caused oil or some other liquid needed for the lifts to solidify (or at least partially solidify). So, none of the detachables were able to run. This was before Snow Bowl Express, so perhaps the newer models are different.

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      • Somebody January 11, 2022 / 8:37 am

        I saw the same thing at Stratton 2 or 3 years ago, but I assumed it was just concern about customers getting frostbite since Amex was open but the upper mountain was closed.

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    • atc1701 January 11, 2022 / 7:12 am

      Still no idea of what the exact limit is, but it is currently -30C at the summit of Tremblant and Soleil is not running, but Duncan is running without passengers, interestingly near full speed ~4.5 m/s. So perhaps that gives us a ballpark idea of where their cold limits lie.

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      • Simon January 17, 2022 / 5:22 pm

        Is Duncan out of service for a while? I just looked at the webcam and it appears chairs are removed and the cable on the up side is off the first few towers.

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        • Ben Eminger January 19, 2022 / 8:59 pm

          I’d imagine a re-splice or some other kind of haul rope repair.

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        • atc1701 January 21, 2022 / 11:28 am

          Yep, haul rope was replaced this past summer so a re-splice was performed Monday-Thursday this week.

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