North Bowl Express – Heavenly, CA/NV

This lift replaced a very long Riblet triple as part of the 2022 Vail Resort Epic Lift Upgrade.
Return terminal and tower 1 next to the Boulder chair.
Loading area with EpicMix gantry.
Tower 3.
Steep climb out from the bottom terminal.
View riding up the line.
Middle segment of the lift line.
Tower head with combo assemblies.
View back down the lift line.
Breakover towers.
This is a rare lift with a combination tower adjacent to the top terminal.
Upper station overview.
The drive is located here.
Tower 17 and the top terminal underskin.
View down at tower 10.
Looking up the line.
Tower 2.
Another view of the bottom station.
View down the line at tower 4.
Support tower head.
View arriving at the summit.
Unloading area.
Many skiers wanted this lift to start lower and replace Boulder, top.
Lift overview.
Station located in the same spot as the previous Riblet.

20 thoughts on “North Bowl Express – Heavenly, CA/NV

  1. Donald Reif December 22, 2022 / 6:18 pm

    This is very much a roller coaster type lift.


  2. skitheeast December 22, 2022 / 7:42 pm

    My only gripe about the alignment is that I wish they would have moved the top terminal next to where Stagecoach unloads so this lift could at least be a little more lap-able for intermediates beyond 1.5 runs and also provide Galaxy access in the event Heavenly ever decides to care about that area in the future (I can dream!). Otherwise, it is excellent to see Vail care about Heavenly and this will definitely make parking at Boulder Lodge much more appealing!


    • Donald Reif December 22, 2022 / 7:56 pm

      And while I get why some people are miffed about having to ride Boulder up to this, setting it up like that also means intermediates don’t have to mingle with the limited number of beginners using Boulder.


    • ryand1407 May 19, 2023 / 10:31 am

      Per someone who helped build it… There were a ton of issues with exact alignment and length due to red tape.

      Making it longer & lower to replace Boulder as well would have meant a completely new alignment, which was a non-starter. The USFS wasn’t keen thanks to white bark pine and the Tahoe basin planning (basically the combined state regional governing body for a lot of things) group probably had a say too.

      Even making slight adjustments was an issue; getting the ground level on a new larger footprint, the TRT is basically never being allowed to be closed, even while you have a lift installation going on above it, etc. Lots of little things that are mostly tied to being a very visible and highly trafficed part of Lake Tahoe.

      The existing alignment was probably the most feasible without adding on another few years of approvals… Ala PCMR’s vanished 8-pack. Vail jumped on a completable project instead of making it more complicated and vulnerable.


  3. humoresque811 December 26, 2022 / 1:14 pm

    I think this is the only lift I have ever ridden before there were pictures of it on Liftblog…


  4. Jp2e January 1, 2023 / 2:10 pm

    Looks great, can’t wait to ride it, Is this a new lift or refurbished from another vail resort?


    • Ryan Murphy January 1, 2023 / 2:37 pm

      This is brand new.


      • Powderpig February 2, 2023 / 9:18 am

        Rode new North Bowl lift the second day it was open. Talked to the lift attendant and he said the lift was recycled from Breckinridge. I don’t know if this is true, partially true or not. Word of warning the slatted seat backs are good at snagging random buckles on packs.


        • Terry February 2, 2023 / 9:29 am

          Thanks for the head’s up! Can you access Pepi’s run from the North Bowl lift?


        • skitheeast February 2, 2023 / 10:14 am

          Easy way to fact check: This lift is a Doppelmayr high-speed quad. Breck’s only Doppelmayr HSQ was the original Quicksilver lift removed in ’99, which I believe was relocated to Canada somewhere (could be wrong here). Regardless, using parts from a first-generation detachable lift built in ’81 would result in replacement parts needed fairly quickly. The liftie was wrong.


  5. Joshua January 8, 2023 / 1:29 am

    Why is a combination tower needed right before the top terminal


    • Donald Reif January 8, 2023 / 7:44 am

      It’s pretty common to see on lifts with a relatively flat segment coming into a terminal.

      You see something similar on lifts like Crescent:

      Or on Taos’s Lift 1:


      • ChessnotCheckers March 8, 2023 / 2:38 pm

        pretty common… they he lists two other examples. so three out of hundreds of HSQ’s in north America


        • Mike B May 19, 2023 / 4:29 pm

          Oh wait, esteemed Mr. Chessnotcheckers, I’m not sure he was aware of your personal requirement to go out and provide photographic examples of all of them. I’m sure Donald will get right on it in response to your urgent, necessary and completely standard threshold to be convinced of this important matter. Perhaps you could take a stroll through the pictures of said towers on this very website and report back to us whether the response that “it’s pretty common” is true. Or you could just take cheap pot shots while doing literally no work of your own and adding nothing to the conversation. Looks like you’re choosing Option B thus far.


    • Andy May 19, 2023 / 9:09 pm

      The simple answer on why combination towers are sometimes put right before a top terminal is that the lift engineers require that the cable enter and exit the terminal at a specified height. A combo tower may be used in a situation where the lift engineers are not exactly certain that the cable will always stay at the specified height if only a depression or compression tower was used at that location. In these cases they might think that the cable might sometimes ride up off a tower ( if the sheaves are below the cable) or ride down under the tower (if the sheaves are above the cable) The lift engineers try their best to get the cable to be riding at the specified height when it comes off / meets the first tower downhill from the terminal, but sometimes there are situations where (because of wind, or differences in cable tension from unloaded to loaded, distance to the second last tower downhill from the terminal ) where the engineers just say to hell with calculating the specified height, lets just force the cable to be at the specified height, which is what a combo tower is, forcing the cable to stay at a specific height.


  6. Kirk January 8, 2023 / 8:05 am

    I think the average rope angle required for the load on the entry and exit terminal sheaves is about 5 degrees. Typically this type of sheave assembly is used used when the sheave loading is to light to meet the design criteria for support sheaves only, under certain loading conditions including bare rope.


  7. John January 9, 2023 / 10:19 am

    Love this blog! This lift is a game changer for the Nevada side during storm conditions (i.e. when Gondola is closed, Sky is closed). Allows access to a ton of awesome terrain, and later in the day takes a lot of pressure off of Dipper/Comet if they are open. Given the limited parking at Boulder/Stagecoach, if this lift is open, no lines.

    Question for folks who know more than me. Stagecoach is my go to lift (I get up early, and we live in the Valley). It is ALWAYS open as long as there are no power issues. I’ve ridden the new North Bowl a bunch this season and it seams to have similar wind exposure (to S/SW winds) as stagecoach except with a small segment when it goes up and over the high point before the top base station (still, trees both sides, winds seemed fine). Yet, it always seems to be on windhold early in the day, opens later. Before the new lift, the old lift was often closed in storm cycles. I attributed that to being a bias to keep an old/slow lift closed.

    Is this alignment that much more exposed than stagecoach or is this staffing? To be fair, on storm days I have been skiing, they always got it open and I love it (1-2, stagecoach + the burn/etc. powder turns), but am wondering. Thanks to all the folks who got this lift open and Vail for the investment, it changes the game on the Nevada Side of Heavenly. Even when all the lifts are open it takes a ton of skiers off the other lifts.


    • RT January 9, 2023 / 3:47 pm

      John, as someone who worked up there for a long time and still skis and lives nearby, yes, this alignment is significantly more wind prone than Stagecoach. Surely you’ve skied down Pepis from the top of Stage to the top of Northbowl on a windy day and experienced the winds on the exposed corner with everyone comically being blown backwards?

      Some might remember the small shack that was present at the “Breakover” near current tower 15? On wind days they would put an observer in there so they could slow the chair during gusts, the only such installation at Heavenly which kind of says it right there.

      A few weeks ago I learnt that the slatted seat backs were chosen to minimize the chairs wind profile, a choice they’ve never made previously.

      This lift will still be subject to closure but they’re counting on the heavier carriers being more stable in those typical SW winds you mentioned.




  8. Terry Williasm January 24, 2023 / 7:10 pm

    Hi, Can you connect with Pepi’s run at the top of the new Northbowl lift?


    • JP2E February 2, 2023 / 10:07 am

      Yes you can, the top terminal is at the start of the Pepi Run that takes you down to the East Peak Pod.


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