Explorer Express – Winter Park, CO

Poma Omega return station.
Side view of the return.
View up the lift line.
Uphill arrival side at the bottom.
Another view of the line.
Riding up an empty line.
Lower lift line.
Nearing the summit.
Top drive station.
Top terminal overview.
View down the entire lift line.
This was the site of the Eskimo Lift destruction test on the former Riblet double.
Middle part of the line.
View up.
Lower lift line near Sunspot.

45 thoughts on “Explorer Express – Winter Park, CO

  1. Donald M. Reif March 24, 2019 / 10:24 am

    This is the third lift to travel up this alignment. The first was the Riblet double chairlift that underwent the destruction testing in 1990. It was replaced with the original Zephyr triple chairlift displaced by the Zephyr Express. That was a Yan triple chairlift (and I think it was modified with Poma Competition chairs around that time). In 1999, the current Eskimo Express came in and the Eskimo triple became the Sweetwater lift at Jackson Hole, where it ran until the Sweetwater Gondola was built in 2016.

    This is one of only two high speed quads at Winter Park that theoretically can run 1,000 fpm (the other being the Pioneer Express, but I don’t think that runs full speed much these days). The other high speed quads have the shortened model of Challenger terminal, which caps their maximum speed at 900 fpm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kaden K June 24, 2019 / 4:46 pm

      The Gondola goes really fast, probably 1100, and I think Sunnyside express will go at least 1000


      • Donald Reif June 24, 2019 / 8:55 pm

        The high speed six packs has the benefits of having no beginner terrain that can be lapped from them and also having longer terminals.


        • Collin Parsons October 1, 2019 / 6:48 pm

          This lift has a design speed of 1100 feet per minute, but do they actually run it that fast? The Gondola has the same design speed and is apparently run that speed.


        • Donald Reif October 1, 2019 / 11:51 pm

          In the few YouTube videos I can find, I think this one runs at 1,000 fpm. Though they might run it slower to maintain consistency with the high speed quads around it, which can only run at 900 fpm tops due to having the shorter Challenger terminal design.


  2. Carson March 24, 2019 / 2:52 pm

    The old riblet that was here was more on the run to the right (at the top) the triple came in and started going through the middle of the run(at the top)


  3. Colorado_Local April 15, 2019 / 9:22 am

    When were these pictures taken because I noticed some sort of support going up the line on towers 1 & 2


  4. Lift Expert December 1, 2020 / 6:03 pm

    I can’t believe they changed the name!


    • skitheeast December 1, 2020 / 6:47 pm

      Alterra is removing all names they believe could potentially be offensive towards different groups. Eskimo Express is receiving the same fate as Squaw Valley.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Donald Reif December 1, 2020 / 8:02 pm

        Funny. The Eskimo name has been on every chairlift that’s operated on this alignment for the last 57 years (27 years for the Riblet double, 9 for the Yan triple, and 21 for the current high speed quad) and no one ever kicked up a fuss about it once. Maybe they figure no one will notice since the Eskimo Ski Club disbanded two years ago.

        Given how long the name has lasted, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people stick to calling this lift the Eskimo Express lift in conversation. It’s like how some Breckenridge skiers still refer to Rip’s Ride by its old name of Lift 7, or Telluride skiers who still call the Polar Queen Express lift the Palmyra Express lift,


        • jcpierce05 December 1, 2020 / 8:47 pm

          I have no clue why they chose a bunny hill lift name for a lift that services mostly blacks. I can see some beginner skiers who accidentally board the lift thinking its part of the nearby beginner zone. I would have prefered them to re-name the lift to Outrigger Express or Sunspot Express. I wonder how the new name will play out in the summer, as this lift serves a lot of advanced bike trails. I will miss the name Eskimo.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Donald Reif December 1, 2020 / 9:17 pm

          Alterra must be lacking in imagination when it comes to alternate names. I would think that more appropriate names would be:

          * Cranmer Express

          * Cannonball Express

          * Rollins Express

          * Eureka Express

          …but I can definitely see how the name will likely cause some confusion for beginners since the lift’s name would make more sense for a lift in the beginner area right next door, when the only green run directly accessible from the lift is March Hare.


        • skitheeast December 1, 2020 / 9:27 pm

          I think the name was meant to go along with the space-themed lift names in the area. Comet and Meteor as surface lifts and Gemini, Discovery, and Endeavour as chairlifts are all located nearby. Atlantis, Columbia, or Enterprise would have been cool to complement the space shuttle names (also counting Challenger at Mary Jane).

          Liked by 4 people

        • Donald Reif December 2, 2020 / 9:28 am

          Hate to burst your bubble,, but Challenger was actually named after the Union Pacific steam locomotives, fitting in with the Mary Jane’s railroad theme (Iron Horse, Pony Express, Super Gauge Express, Galloping Goose).

          Liked by 1 person

        • Donald Reif December 2, 2020 / 1:09 pm

          Mind you, I’m not opposed to lifts getting renamed. There are many occasions where the renaming was ideal.

          For example, I think there aren’t many Breck guests who know that the Mercury SuperChair is not the first lift to use that name, it was actually the original name of the Beaver Run SuperChair, and it was renamed in 1993 to reflect that it started out of the Beaver Run base area. But they liked the Mercury name a lot, so they repurposed it in 1997 for the high speed quad that was built to supplement it and replace Lift B.

          In another example, the Birds of Prey Express lift at Beaver Creek is actually the second lift to use the name. It was originally the name used for the Cinch Express lift when that was built in 1996, because that lift services the starting line for the Birds of Prey downhill course (and it was probably an easier name to remember than “Stump Park Express”, that being the name of the triple it replaced). But it didn’t lap the Birds of Prey face, which instead had the Westwall double chairlift servicing it. So in 2003, when Beaver Creek decided to replace Westwall with a high speed quad, they gave it the Birds of Prey Express name while renaming the upper Beaver Creek Mountain high speed quad to the Cinch Express lift.

          And at Winter Park, it made sense for the Summit Express lift to be renamed when it was upgraded to a high speed six pack in 2005. When the lift was built in 1985, the name made sense since Lunch Rock was the highest point in-bounds on the mountain. But that wasn’t the case after Parsenn Bowl opened with the Timberline lift in 1992, so it was time for a rename. The resulting lift was thus named the Super Gauge Express lift because it both fit in with the railroad theme of Mary Jane’s lifts and trails, and the name reflected the fact that the lift’s chairs are thrice as wide as the chairs on the double chairlifts surrounding it. Timberline’s replacement being named the Panoramic Express also works out seeing as Winter Park now had two lifts that end above timberline (Eagle Wind being the other), and there is a rather sweeping panorama awaiting you when you get off at the top.

          But this one doesn’t fit any of those categories.

          Liked by 2 people

        • V12Tommy January 29, 2021 / 11:12 pm

          If they were going to rename it, and give it a space theme, they could have picked a much better name, like Apollo Express. Apollo being the name of the center bar Riblet that went from the top of Gemini up to Sunspot, a somewhat similar route to the one the Eskimo makes. I still remember riding the Riblet as a kid. Not sure what the line speed was on it, but I think that was the fastest I’d ever been on a Riblet.


      • Ryan Murphy December 1, 2020 / 10:46 pm

        Squaw Creek and Squaw One chairs are also headed for the history books. I’ll be curious to see the new names on those lifts.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Donald Reif December 1, 2020 / 11:13 pm

          It’s “political correctness” gone haywire. I don’t see how the old names that had been around for 30+ years were suddenly offensive. And I bet a lot of people will continue referring to these lifts or trails by whatever their old names were, even if out of spite.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Ryan Murphy December 2, 2020 / 12:25 am

          Donald, I have a Poli Sci degree, and am insistent that everything is political, but this isn’t the time or place to get those arguments out. Having space away from it all is as valuble as having the disscussion sometimes. I’ll shoot you a DM on YouTube or something if you want to have this conversation, but let’s leave this page to the skiing.

          Liked by 1 person

        • skitheeast December 2, 2020 / 1:23 pm

          Squaw One and Squaw Creek lifts, Squaw Peak the mountain, and Squaw Creek the river will be renamed alongside Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows this upcoming year.


  5. Bnob Miller December 2, 2020 / 8:55 am


    Liked by 2 people

    • Bnob Miller December 2, 2020 / 9:00 am


      Liked by 2 people

      • Aidan Reilly December 2, 2020 / 11:42 am

        Might as well rename all the trails over in eagle wind and change the lift name.


      • Trail Master January 19, 2021 / 10:46 am

        Fully replacing this lift with the old riblet would be physically and budgetly impossible as the old riblet that was here underwent the Eskimo Destruction Test in June of 1990, fully damaging the essentials of this lift (bottom terminal, some chairs, some towers, some sheaves, and the entire vault drive). Plus, some of the parts that did not get destroyed during the test are most likely well gone by now as more than 30 years past since the testing.


        • Andrew December 15, 2022 / 4:57 pm

          Here’s the video for the destruction test of the Eskimo chairlift


    • Lift Expert December 5, 2020 / 8:34 am

      Sure, but I don’t want the Riblet back. Its too old and slow

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Gene December 5, 2020 / 2:44 pm

    I guess Drunken Frenchman is OK?
    How about the fact that one half of the ski resort is named for a whore.

    It’s political correctness unhinged.
    Washington’s football team are still the Redskins
    The Broncos will forever play at Mile High
    And the lift at WP next to Prospector is the Eskimo Express.

    And before I hit enter, I put this to you to cogitate upon. “Explorer” doesn’t that name
    drag along a whole pile of its own political incorrectness?
    Columbus, Cortez, DeSoto, Lewis & Clark and all the non-indigenous people that followed
    them oh, wait those were Pioneers. (Next lift name to get axed…)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Donald Reif December 5, 2020 / 10:40 pm

      Not to mention Mary Jane is one of many euphemistic names for marijuana…


    • Myles Svec December 5, 2020 / 11:06 pm

      Also Eagle Wind could get axed too because it makes a Native American “reference”.


      • Aidan Reilly December 6, 2020 / 12:10 pm

        On Instagram they said they won’t rename eagle wind


        • Donald Reif December 27, 2020 / 9:13 pm

          Maybe it’s because that lift is an experts-only lift.

          Of course, the Eskimo Express lift is also an experts lift, since most of the runs it laps are mogul runs, and it’s also the lift you use for lapping the Rail Yard.

          I do think this name change would’ve gone over a lot better if management had given a little more time and thought to the rename than they did. In their rush to purge “offensive” names, many of these renamed lifts have ended up with names that don’t really fit, this one getting a name more appropriate for a beginners lift or if Big Sky chose to replace their Explorer double with a high speed quad.


        • Trail Master January 19, 2021 / 10:49 am

          Explorer Express (Eskimo Express) does not only lap expert terrain, it also laps the father of the resort, Cranmer, which was here when the resort first opened.


        • Donald Reif January 19, 2021 / 11:42 am

          That doesn’t change the fact that the large majority of the lapping runs off this lift are black mogul runs.


    • Utah Powder Skier December 6, 2020 / 1:50 pm

      Washington Football team is not the Redskins anymore. The name was changed prior to the 2020 NFL season. They will be the Washington Football Team until someone thinks of a better name.


      • V12Tommy January 29, 2021 / 11:02 pm

        Name it in honor of Trump, to trigger all the snowflakes. Call them the Washington Orange Skins. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

    • V12Tommy January 29, 2021 / 11:06 pm

      Comment of the year, Gene. I totally forgot that half their resort was named after a hooker.


  7. Munier Salem June 26, 2021 / 9:45 am

    Indigenous Canadians have said they find the term “Eskimo” offensive. That’s basically all the re-naming boils down to. The term is a Western perversion of a Montagnais word for “netter of snowshoes” … it would annoy me if a colonizing power named my entire people after one random profession they happened to interact with in a transactional capacity.

    The trails in the Eagle Wind territory mostly refer to real aspects of American Indian culture or real American Indians. For instance, Little Raven and Black Coal were both Arapaho chiefs. There’s a street in Downtown Denver named after Little Raven as well.

    As for Mary Jane, she was indeed a prostitute. I personally don’t think there’s anything offensive about celebrating a real, historical figure who happened to own a good chunk of the land the ski resort now sits on. If anything it’s empowering to her legacy.

    “Eskimo” has nothing to do with Winter Park, Colorado, the American West, or skiing. One of the things I love about Winter Park is how much their naming conventions pay homage to the local history and geography (the Alice and Wonderland stuff being a weird but still lovable exception). Even the space-race stuff kind of makes sense: skiing came of age in the 1960s … just like America’s space program.

    I do agree that “Explorer” is a kind of dumb name in that light. It doesn’t really connect to anything else on that side of the mountain. I agree “Sunspot”, “Atlantis” or “Columbia” would have all been better choices.


    • pbropetech June 26, 2021 / 5:32 pm

      As a student of Canadian history I have to agree. My senior thesis was on the formation of the Nunavut Territory, of which the Inuit (Eskimo) make up a huge majority. Many times during my research I came across statements from them stating that Eskimo was not a name they wanted to be referred to.


    • atc1701 December 22, 2021 / 3:18 pm

      A properly intelligent comment. You’ve hit the nail right on the head. There’s nothing wrong with making passive references to local indigenous culture – almost as an homage to their original stewardship of the land. My local mountain in QC has a trail named “Windigo” (an Algonquin mythical creature). Nothing wrong there – it’s local and non-offensive, just the name of a creature. But we think of words like “Eskimo”, “Squaw”, these are words that have a long track record of being used as a pejorative/slur against indigenous people.

      It’s often convenient to imagine that the groups claiming the terms are offensive woke up one day and decided “I don’t like this word anymore”, but that’s often far from the case – especially in the case of “Eskimo” and “Squaw”. Perhaps there’s a case to be made that “Eskimo Express” and “Squaw Valley” etc have become embedded in local skiing culture, fair enough. And maybe this is just my background speaking, but I think it’s easier to slowly change skiing culture (albeit this name, Explorer Express, is probably a terrible choice) than it is to erase decades-centuries of trauma or pretend it doesn’t exist/matter.

      For skiers the name of a life or resort is just a name, but for indigenous people it’s a reminder of the hate they’ve endured. Not comparable and we ought not to treat it as such. Just some thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Donald Reif December 22, 2021 / 5:14 pm

      Honestly, it would’ve made more sense to give the “Explorer” name to the lift currently known as Endeavor, and give the Endeavor name over to this lift.
      (See what I alluded to when pointing out the Cinch Express and Beaver Run SuperChair examples)


  8. Joshua Redman January 8, 2022 / 5:17 pm

    They changed the color of the terminals of Explorer and Prospector. It looks nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Joshua Redman January 7, 2023 / 1:56 pm

    I was at Winter Park a couple of weeks ago and Explorer was running awfully slow, at most 800 FPM. I didn’t time it though. Does anyone know why?


    • Aidan Reilly January 7, 2023 / 3:41 pm

      Trouble with the motor. They ordered a new one for it a couple weeks ago. New one blew, had to send it back. Put the old one again and have been running it slow because of that.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s