Sugar Mountain to Add Fourth New Lift in Six Years

Another new chairlift is coming to North Carolina’s largest ski area. Sugar Mountain Resort and Doppelmayr will partner to build a fixed grip quad this summer called Big Birch, replacing the Green triple. The new lift will transport 1,792 skiers per hour to mid-mountain, an increase of 22 percent.

“Building new ski lifts makes Sugar Mountain Resort happy,” notes a press release. “Moving people seamlessly, efficiently and comfortably from point-to-point is our goal and most importantly, it makes guests happy.” Other recent additions at Sugar Mountain include the Summit Express, Easy Street and Gunther’s Way lifts, all by Doppelmayr. The lift company and Sugar Mountain’s owner both hail from Austria, hence their strong partnership.

Note: Any news dated April 1st should be read with caution. However, I do not believe this is a joke. After all, Sugar announced the new Easy Street quad on April 1st, 2019!

News Roundup: Good Friday

Whistler Blackcomb to Shut Down Again

The largest ski resort in North America is closing for at least three weeks effective midnight tonight. The pause comes as part of a provincial effort to slow the spread of Covid-19 through new restrictions on business and travel. Gyms, indoor dining, and houses of worship are also closing by order of the BC government. Whistler Blackcomb was specifically identified to “address and prevent community spread related to non-essential travel,” according to a news release. Other British Columbia ski resorts are currently allowed to remain open.

“Covid-19 continues to create challenges for people and businesses throughout B.C., and we are grateful for the sacrifices people continue to make to keep one another safe,” said British Columbia Premier John Horgan. “We know that the idea of more restrictions is not welcome news, but we are asking people to rise to the challenge with the confidence that vaccines mean better days are ahead. We are not out of the woods yet, but the provincial health officer’s orders, combined with our vaccines, give us the tools we need to move out of this pandemic together.”

Whistler Blackcomb parent company Vail Resorts recently announced 28.4 percent decline in net income due to effects of the pandemic. Whistler Blackcomb was disproportionately impacted due to the Canadian border remaining closed. Destination visits declined to 15 percent of Whistler Blackcomb visitation this season compared to 48 percent in the same period the prior year. Skier visits across all North American Vail Resorts declined 8.2 percent for the season as of March 7th.

The Whistler Blackcomb closure order is scheduled to last through April 19th, 2021. Whistler Mountain had been scheduled to close April 18th with Blackcomb Mountain planned to remain open until May 24th.

On Monday evening Whistler Blackcomb Chief Operating Officer Geoff Buchheister issued the following statement:

“Throughout the season, Whistler Blackcomb has prioritized the health and safety of our guests and employees. Monday’s order from the Province of British Columbia to close Whistler Blackcomb came as a surprise and we respect the decision and are taking immediate steps to comply. We would like to thank all of our guests and employees for their willingness to adapt to our COVID safety protocols and will update the website with more information on the future of the 2020-21 season.”

By Tuesday, resort officials decided to close both mountains for the season and turn their attention to summer.

News Roundup: RFP

Chair Falls from Camelback’s Sullivan Express

A chair fell from the Sullivan Express at Camelback Resort in Pennsylvania today along with three passengers who were riding in it. Pictures posted to social media show a significant patrol response as well as ski and snowboard gear surrounding the chair on the ground. A local dispatch log notes a call came in at 3:39 pm for a 40 year old male with back and hip injury, a 12 year old male with an arm injury and a 9 year old female with an abdominal injury. The entire west side of the resort was closed for the remainder of the day. Weather in the area was reportedly good with sunny skies, light winds and temperatures in the 50s.

The lift involved is a 1995 Doppelmayr detachable quad with DS series grips. It operates in winter as well as summer for water park operations. While Doppelmayr detachable lifts have an excellent safety record, other instances of chairs falling have occurred. A 2015 incident on Mt. Bachelor’s Sunrise Express was blamed on component failure. At Thredbo, Australia, quad chairs fell in both 2016 and 2019 from the Gunbarrel Express due to windy conditions.

As of Monday morning, the Sullivan Express remains closed with the Bailey double operating in its place. Sullivan’s sister lift, the Stevenson Express, is operating normally.

Camelback released the below statement Monday afternoon:

Camelback issued a second statement the morning of Tuesday, March 23rd:

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry confirmed to me it is investigating the incident but declined to provide further information. “The results of the investigation are not considered a public document,” an agency spokesperson noted.

News Roundup: No Reservations

New Lift Coming to Kelly Canyon

For the first time in decades, Kelly Canyon is getting a new chairlift. The fixed grip triple chair is the first new lift announced in the state of Idaho for 2021. The lift will service new terrain above the current lift-served summit with an exact location to be announced later.

With six complete lift projects and multiple retrofits already confirmed, Salt Lake City-based Skytrac is gearing up for one of its busiest construction seasons ever.

Kelly Canyon will run a contest on social media to name the new lift.