Instagram Tuesday: Flying Away

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

News Roundup: Record Investment

News Roundup: Sigma

Forest Service Letter Details Montana Snowbowl Incident

A notice of noncompliance obtained by Lift Blog through a public records request sheds new light on a March incident in which a chair contacted a tower and ejected a four year old boy at Montana Snowbowl. Lolo National Forest Supervisor Carolyn Upton wrote to Montana Snowbowl owner Brad Morris on March 29th detailing issues with the Snow Park lift, criticizing the resort’s response to the incident and requesting action by summer. The entire document is copied below with personal information redacted.

Four year old Sawyer McLeod fell from the Snow Park double March 19th after the chair he was riding collided with a halo on tower 1 shortly after loading. The boy’s father Nathan later jumped from the same chair, which was badly damaged from the collision. Neither rider was seriously injured. The lift resumed operating shortly after the incident with the affected chair marked by flagging.

Snow Park came used to Montana Snowbowl in 2019, two decades after manufacturer Riblet ceased operating. The 1966 model double was re-engineered by a third party and installed in house by mountain employees. The Forest Service says Montana Snowbowl knew about clearance issues with towers 1 and 2 by 2020 but did not take corrective action until a 2021 incident when a skier’s head contacted the halo on tower 2. On both towers 1 and 2, “modifications were made to the halo and supporting brackets to meet clearance standards,” the Forest Service noted. Nonetheless, Forest Supervisor Upton wrote that “due to the sequence of lift clearance incidents, I am concerned for the safety of skiers on the Snow Park lift.” Upton requested Montana Snowbowl seek ANSI B77.1 compliance testing by a consulting engineer independent of the lift’s designer and Forest Service to determine what actions or modifications are needed to prevent entanglements.

A second issue raised by the letter is Montana Snowbowl’s training and response to the incident. Policy dictates that lift operators are to call patrol immediately any time an unseated passenger cannot be physically reached. “The lift attendant did not properly notify the ski patrol or other lift operator in a timely manner of two unseated passengers on the Snow Park lift,” wrote Upton. “This failure to respond and report out eliminated the opportunity for Ski Patrol to perform their duties to evaluate patient condition, treat potential injuries, and address safety concerns,” she continued. Resort management also failed to notify the Forest Service of the incident involving both structural damage and potential for injury, as required by Forest Service policy. The agency didn’t find out about the incident until the following day from a concerned citizen. Upon learning of the incident, the Forest Service requested the lift be shut down and it remained shuttered the rest of the season. The Forest Service later requested Snowbowl provide a plan to improve the knowledge, skills and abilities of lift attendants and personnel to respond to accidents in an appropriate manner.

Montana Snowbowl did not respond to Lift Blog’s request for comment but issued a statement on social media the day after Supervisor Upton’s letter was sent. “We want to extend our sincerest apologies to the child and his family,” Snowbowl wrote. “We fully realize the impact this incident has had on them and the community. The safety of our customers is paramount to Snowbowl’s management and staff, and we are committed to investigating the cause of this incident and making any required changes,” the statement continued. The Forest Service’s March 29th notice began a 90 day period for the permit holder to respond. Montana Snowbowl typically opens a different double chair along with zip lines for the summer in late June, right about the time the Forest Service expects a response to its letter. The ski area’s special use permit with the Forest Service currently runs through the end of 2044.

News Roundup: East to West

Manufacturers Introduce Innovations at Interalpin

If the last week and a half was quiet on the blog, it’s because I was skiing my way around Austria, Germany and Switzerland with a few lift factory visits along the way. The last stop on my journey was Interalpin, the world’s largest trade show for mountain technology which takes place in Innsbruck every two years. Thanks to Covid, this was the first Interalpin in four years with an estimated 35,000 people attending.


Doppelmayr made a splash the first day with the introduction of a new logo, the company’s first brand refresh in decades. For the first time Doppelmayr Group companies like CWA, Carvatech, Garaventa, Gassner and Frey all have logos matching the parent company’s identity. The new brand will be introduced to international subsidiaries over time.

Doppelmayr’s sprawling two story booth featured numerous cabins, chairs, grips and carriages from an 8 seat Carvatech gondola all the way up to a 32 passenger CWA Atria.

A 20 passenger cabin called Stella debuted for the first time. This cabin will be available for both Tri-Line 3S and 20 passenger monocable gondolas. Stella fills the gap between the ubiquitous Omega and much larger Atria model, which has only been used to two lifts to date. Future 20 passenger monocable gondolas will utilize a new D9000 carriage, which is built around two side by side D5000 grips.

Introduced last year, Tri-Line is a streamlined version of the 3S gondola with smaller stations requiring less concrete. The first Tri-Line is under development at Hoch-Ybrig, Switzerland. Both Tri-Line and 20-MGD are based off standard D-Line stations and can achieve up to 8,000 passengers per hour with Stella cabins that fit closely together and can open on two sides. On the three rope Tri-Line, Stella cabins will be capable of spanning longer distances between towers than monocable gondolas with high wind stability.

Doppelmayr also showcased a simplified surface lift product family called S-Line.

Doppelmayr had a full size mockup of an Auro autonomous gondola station which can be monitored remotely from a ropeway operations center. A chairlift version is also undergoing testing on two lifts in the region using artificial intelligence to monitor unloading. In both cases, large detachable lifts could be operated by just one person.

Also on the software front, Doppelmayr’s resort management software clair now integrates with other mountain technology providers such as Fatzer, Skidata and TechnoAlpin.

HTI Group

HTI group hosted another large booth shared between Prinoth, Leitner, Poma and DemacLenko. For the first time Bartholet was also part of the HTI area. With three different lift brands now under one umbrella, HTI showed off multiple Diamond cabins, a premium chair, Symphony gondolas and Bartholet chairs/cabins.

I got to experience both Leitner’s 2S and 3S gondolas in the surrounding mountains and was very impressed with their smooth ride and quality. The newest 2S design utilizes plastic carriage rollers and can span long distances between towers more economically than a 3S.

Bikes were a big focus with both chair and gondola loading solutions on display. The European industry has embraced vertical racks so passengers can ride on the same chairs as bikes without having to skip chairs with trays.

HTI is also getting into the software game with a resort management program called Skadii including digital logbooks to manage documentation.

Energy efficiency is a huge focus in Europe and HTI also showed off its Ecodrive program, which uses cameras to analyze lift queues and automatically adjust lift speed to save energy.


MND Ropeways had a Waterville Valley style six place chair along with a gondola cabin on display. The company continues to push the benefits of providing lifts, snowmaking, avalanche control systems and summer attractions all from one supplier.

News Roundup: Interconnect