News Roundup: Stalking Horse

Revelstoke Owner Set to Buy Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain

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Grouse Mountain Resort will once again be Canadian owned by the end of the month.  Shanghai-based China Minsheng Investment Group has agreed to sell the resort to Northland Properties, a conglomerate which owns Revelstoke Mountain Resort along with numerous hotels and an NHL franchise.  “With our strong family and company roots in Vancouver BC, we are excited with the opportunity to make this acquisition,” said Tom Gaglardi, President and CEO of Northland Properties Corporation. “We look forward to working closely with the existing team and leadership group, as well the community to ensure we maintain and evolve the iconic Grouse Mountain experience for all of our visitors.”

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Grouse Mountain operates four Leitner-Poma quad lifts and is accessed exclusively by aerial tramways as there are no public roads to the area.  The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports replacing the Blue Skyride is a top priority for the new owner.  The aerial tramway was built in 1965 and carries only 44 passengers per car when open.  Even with the 1976 Red Skyride next door, the tramways often prove inadequate for moving large numbers of people, especially during stormy weather.

“We welcome the opportunity to join Canada’s fastest growing hospitality group,” said Michael Cameron, President of Grouse Mountain Resort.  “As a leader in the hotel and restaurant industry, Northland Properties has shown tremendous growth and innovation across their diversified group of companies.  We look forward to working together, recognizing the accomplishments that the Grouse Mountain Resort and its team have achieved over the years and continuing to build on that success.”

Fallen Chair Forces an Evacuation at Montana Snowbowl

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Photo credit: David Erickson via Missoulian

A chair got caught in a terminal guide and fell from the LaValle Creek lift at Montana Snowbowl on New Year’s Day.  The haul rope was damaged enough that dozens of other riders were roped down from the lift.  No one was injured.  The lift remains closed and Snowbowl owner Andy Morris says repairs may take a week or more.

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The station where the incident occurred as seen in 2016.

The 1984 Riblet is the only lift servicing Montana Snowbowl’s 7,560 foot summit.  Riblet lifts do not utilize traditional grips but rather clips that are inserted into the haul rope.  Clips coming loose are rare but not unheard of occurrences.  In 2011, the same lift lost a chair in the loading area.

Lift ticket prices have been reduced as a result of the summit closure.  Snowbowl’s long-awaited Snow Park Expansion may debut before LaValle reopens, giving guests more intermediate options.  The expansion has been under construction for three years and includes a used Riblet double from Snowmass.

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Instagram Tuesday: Momentum

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

 

 

A Solid Year Caps a Decade of Construction Growth

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The mostly new Steamboat Gondola features 137 cabins travelling at a brisk six meters per second.

This year saw installation of 43 new and 7 used lifts across North America, numbers similar to the last two seasons.  43 may seem like a modest number for newly-manufactured lifts on an entire continent but that number is a 54 percent increase from the start of the decade and the highest single year total since 2004.  Only seven resorts opted to install used lifts, mostly late model fixed grip chairlifts but also a detachable quad and one T-Bar.

While 2018 saw a record number of gondolas, multiple bubble chairs and a Telemix, 2019’s projects trended smaller with 22 fixed grip chairlifts and five surface lifts.  That’s the most platters and T-Bars built in the last 15 years.  Two of them anchor terrain expansions while another two service youth racing programs.  Loading carpets were included on five new fixed quad lifts, allowing them to run at slightly faster speeds.

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The Yeti Cruiser at Sasquatch Mountain Resort was one of three new Leitner-Poma Alpha fixed grips constructed across Canada in 2019.

After two huge years, gondola construction fell to two new installations in Colorado, one in New Hampshire and pulse versions in New York and Florida.  Detachable chairlift construction was just above the decade average of ten per year.  Only one of this year’s high speed chairlifts included bubbles and another heated seats.

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Vail Resorts completed the largest-ever lift investment at Stevens Pass, purchasing two Doppelmayr quads to replace aging Riblet and Thiokol lifts.

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News Roundup: Unboxing

  • Lizards prevent construction of an announced chairlift project in New Zealand.
  • Berkshire East and Catamount owner Jon Schaefer finds success staying away from detachable lifts and acquiring used lifts from across the country.
  • Ikon Pass sales rose 60 percent over last year.
  • Cockaigne, NY will reopen in January after many seasons closed.
  • Frost Fire, ND reopens after a missed season.
  • A 3S gondola to Snowbird and Alta would cost more than $300 million to build and $12 million a year to operate.
  • Vail Resorts looks to build it first D-Line chairlift, not in Colorado or California but at Perisher.
  • The Forest Service green lights construction of a new Big Burn lift at Snowmass.
  • A new version of Eagle’s Rest comes Jackson Hole.
  • A downed tree causes extended stops at Silver Mountain.
  • The one year old Blackcomb Gondola went down Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week.
  • Disney Skyliner guests can now call a dedicated phone line for information when gondolas stop for longer than usual.
  • Lift service returns to Tamarack’s Wildwood zone tomorrow.
  • Copper’s Tucker Mountain becomes lift served for the first time today.
  • Regardless of whether Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows build an interconnect gondola, a private ski area may open nearby.

Instagram Tuesday: Europe’s Finest

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

 

Big Sky to Build North America’s Fastest Six Seat Chairlift

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Swift Current 6 will join the existing Ramcharger 8 as an out-of-base workhorse in winter 2020-21.

Big Sky Resort will cement its position as America’s leader in lift technology with the debut of Swift Current 6, the resort’s fifth major lift addition in four years.  The announcement comes just 12 months after the launch of Ramcharger 8, the only eight place and first D-Line lift in North America.  By December 2020, two groundbreaking bubble chairlifts will rise from Big Sky’s Mountain Village: one to Andesite Mountain and the other flanking Lone Peak.  Not only will Big Sky operate the only two ski lifts in North America with Doppelmayr D-Line technology, the Boyne Resorts flagship will also feature the most lifts with heated seats (three) and the most bubble lifts (four, not counting the private Yellowstone Club which has 8.)

Swift Current 6 will span twice the distance of Ramcharger – about 8,500 feet across 24 towers – making it the fourth longest bubble lift on the continent.  126 premium upholstered chairs will yield a capacity of 3,000 passengers per hour, an increase of more than 25 percent versus the current detachable quad.  “Consistent lift improvements are an essential part of Big Sky’s 2025 vision,” noted Big Sky President and COO Taylor Middleton. “We know efficiently dispersing skiers across our almost 6,000 acres of skiing is essential to our guests.  Swift Current will dramatically modernize and improve the flow of skiers in the Mountain Village base area.”

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Swift Current provides a critical link between Andesite Mountain and Lone Peak and is utilized in both winter and summer.

Swifty’s 6 m/s line speed will mark a first for North American six place chairlifts and a flight to the heart of the alpine will last just seven minutes.  Many aspects will mimic Ramcharger 8, a pioneer still unmatched in the Americas.  Bubbles will come in Big Sky blue with heated seats underneath.  “This technology offers guests reliability, efficiency, and a staggeringly fast, warm, and comfortable ride up to the iconic Lone Peak—America’s Matterhorn,” said Stephen Kircher, CEO and President of Boyne Resorts.  “There will be no faster, safer or more comfortable chairlift in North America.”

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News Roundup: Switching Sides

  • Gould Academy sells the naming rights to its T-Bar at Sunday River to Alera Group, an employee benefits firm.
  • Ski Bluewood’s former platter lift can be yours for $19,000.
  • To celebrate new carpool and transit initiatives, Crystal Mountain debuts a green gondola cabin.
  • Does the public have the right to know what individual ski resorts pay the federal government for use of public lands?  Vail Resorts and the National Ski Areas Association argue no.
  • The New York Times visits Woodward Park City in its first week of operation.
  • Sun Valley and Snowbasin prepare for their first peak period after switching from Mountain Collective to Epic.
  • The Saddleback deal won’t close on Monday as scheduled but hopefully sometime in January.
  • A religious group wants to relaunch the long-abandoned Moab Scenic Tram.
  • The Meier family assumes full ownership of Greek Peak and Toggenburg Mountain in New York.
  • Colorado Ski Country USA launches a chairlift safety video series.
  • The latest Wir Magazine highlights Bromont’s big combination lift, the history of Doppelmayr in Canada and new scale models from Jägerndorfer.

Instagram Tuesday: Snow Days

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

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Sunday Funday at its finest. #dayatthewoods

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