Doppelmayr to Install Gondola Network at Icy Strait Point, Alaska

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As part of its commitment to the growing Alaska market, Norwegian Cruise Line today announced several strategic initiatives, including partnering with an Alaska Native corporation to transform Icy Strait Point into a vehicle-free tourism hub.  Two eight passenger gondola systems will transport 5,600 guests per hour between a new Wilderness Landing, the historic Icy Strait cannery and Hoonah Mountain, which features the world’s longest ZipRider.

“Wilderness Landing will cater to visitors in search of individualized experiences with the land, wildlife and native peoples of Alaska,” said Norwegian, which will gain preferred berthing rights at Icy Strait.  As part of the expansion, Huna Totem Corporation will install two gondolas and develop the upper part of Hoonah Mountain near its ZipRider attraction to offer additional experiences for visitors in 2020.  To elevate the experience and maintain its natural setting, Wilderness Landing will be a vehicle-free zone.  Instead of needing an estimated 72 buses to move guests around the site, travelers will be able to move through the treetops between the historic cannery and Wilderness Landing on the Transporter, a high-speed gondola system supplied by Doppelmayr.  The gondola will be wheelchair and scooter accessible.

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Opening a few months later in mid-summer, a second gondola will take guests up the 1,600-foot Hoonah Mountain to the forested area around the ZipRider launch. The six minute ride will unlock additional areas for exploration and afford spectacular views of icefields, the Fairweather Range and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, the ancestral homeland of the Huna Tlingit people.  Huna Totem Corporation will develop new attractions for guests: a top-of-the-mountain nature trail around a glacially-carved reflecting pond, a 340-foot suspension bridge swaying over a box-canyon with a 900-foot vertical drop, and a tour departure center for bear searches and ATV adventures.  Helicopter flightseeing and more will be added during the 2021 season.

“The natural beauty of Alaska makes it one of the most popular destinations to visit, and our investments in the region will enable us to provide our guests with a best-in-class experience as they explore the wonders of the Last Frontier,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.  “These strategic initiatives mark the latest steps in our ongoing efforts to promote economic development in the region and make a positive economic and environmentally sensible impact on the Alaska tourism industry.”

News Roundup: That Was Fast

  • After just three weeks being open, the Disney Skyliner flies its one millionth guest.
  • The new Park City trail map shows exactly where Over and Out goes.
  • Poma inaugurates a lift full of superlatives in South Korea: the longest span between towers (4,000 feet) and tallest concrete tower (492 feet) for a monocable gondola.
  • The Boston Seaport Gondola project is officially dead.
  • Timberline Four Seasons Resort is scheduled to be auctioned November 19th.
  • Aspen Skiing Company will try again for approval of the Ajax Pandora expansion.
  • With an expansion coming, a dispute arises between Idaho and Montana over how much of Lookout Pass Ski Area each can lay claim to.
  • The Forest Service approves Timberline Lodge’s request to replace Pucci with a high speed quad.
  • In what could be a preview of an eventual lift sale, Alterra, Vail Resorts and Seven Springs all bid to buy the Hermitage Club’s snowmaking guns (Vail won.)
  • The latest Pomalink newsletter previews Téléo, the first 3S urban gondola in France.
  • Tampa Bay will study gondola transportation.
  • Park City elected leaders discuss the same topic.
  • Grafton SkyTour is now open.
  • Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers visits Granite Peak to see how lifts are inspected and learn about a proposed expansion.
  • The Sea to Sky Gondola replacement haul rope is spliced.
  • A guy BASE jumps off a tram tower in Germany.
  • The urban gondola promoter in Edmonton unveils its first proposed station location.
  • The new Gould Academy T-Bar at Sunday River will be open to the public whenever four or more major chairlifts go on hold.
  • The name of Manning Park Resort’s new Doppelmayr quad is Bear.
  • Steamboat’s new gondola completes acceptance tests.
  • The Swiss gondola which lost a cabin on October 20th reopens.

Instagram Tuesday: Snow Flying

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

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Little action shot from today’s mission. #doppelmayr

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News Roundup: Seven Meters

  • Val Saint-Côme, Quebec looks to build its first six place detachable lift.
  • The opening of the first lift at Skeetawk is pushed back to midwinter due to delays with SkyTrans’ other project in Illinois.
  • Maine’s Eaton Mountain will not operate this season.
  • Leitner and Kitzbühel partner to build Austria’s fastest monocable ropeway which will travel 7 m/s at a cost of $30 million.
  • Mt. St. Louis Moonstone’s new six pack will be named Josl Huter Express in memory of the mountain’s founder.
  • Aspen Highlands’ Goldenhorn surface lift is on track to be built next summer.
  • Just 75 days after the Sea to Sky Gondola haul rope was severed, a new one arrives in Squamish.
  • Another great podcast episode features the owners of Plattekill Mountain discussing competition from the State of New York, Vail’s purchase of a competitor and the decision not to join the Indy Pass.
  • The Forest Service says yes to Breckenridge’s Peak 7 Infill high speed quad project.

Mark Bee to Retire; Katharina Schmitz Will Lead Doppelmayr USA

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Mark Bee will cap a 30 year career in the lift business when he retires as president of Doppelmayr USA on March 31st.  Austrian-born Katharina Schmitz will be promoted to fill the role.  Bee will remain on the board of directors for the company’s North American entities.

Mark joined VonRoll Tramways in 1989, seven years before that firm was acquired by Doppelmayr.  He was instrumental in merging Doppelmayr USA with Garaventa CTEC in 2002 and oversaw more than 400 lift installations over his tenure.  “It has been an honor and a privilege to be part of the Doppelmayr organization, and to work in the ski industry,” said Bee.  “I could not have imagined a better career or a better company to work for,” he continued.

Katharina Schmitz joined Doppelmayr in 2018 as Vice President, Project Management.  She had moved to the United States back in 2005 and previously worked in the automotive and aerospace sectors.  Earlier this year, she was promoted to Vice President, Operations where she is responsible for production, logistics and construction.  “When we hired Katharina last year, I thought she might be overqualified for the position we were trying to fill, and as it turns out, she was,” said Bee.  “She immediately earned the respect of her co-workers with her team-oriented approach to problem solving, and her ability to quickly learn our business.”

“As a native Austrian and avid skier, I was well aware of the Doppelmayr name and I was ready for a career change,” Katharina said about joining the 126 year old ropeway company.  “When I was offered a position, I jumped. Since joining Doppelmayr I have been impressed with the dedication and talent of the employees, and the continuous focus on solving problems for our customers.  I will work very hard to continue to advance the capabilities of our team to make sure we are prepared to provide the best products and services to our many loyal customers who have placed a great deal of trust in our organization,” she continued.

Change at the top comes as Doppelmayr continues to serve the ski industry while also growing the tourism and urban transportation segments of the lift market.  Doppelmayr USA has increasingly become a maintenance and operations provider for installations such as the Portland Aerial Tram and Bay Area Rapid Transit Oakland Airport Connector.  The company also recently introduced new products such as D-Line detachable lifts, Alpen Star fixed grip terminals and Omega V gondola cabins.

It should be no secret Doppelmayr is a company I admire and I would like to wish Katharina success in her upcoming role as well as Mark a happy retirement.

Instagram Tuesday: Gold

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

 

McCoy Park is a Go for 2020-21 at Beaver Creek

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Beaver Creek will expand by 250 acres with a new detachable quad for the 2020-21 ski season, the resort has confirmed.  The expansion will feature 17 “groomable glades” for guests seeking low angle adventure at high elevation.  “McCoy Park is a separate, family-friendly zone allowing for a more relaxed experience for beginner families,” Vail Resorts notes, describing the terrain as “welcoming for beginner and intermediate skiers to connect and elevate their mountain experience.”  The new runs will be accessible from the existing Larkspur, Strawberry Park and Upper Beaver Creek Mountain Express lifts.

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Transporting 2,400 skiers per hour, the high speed McCoy Park Express will span approximately 5,900 feet in length with a vertical rise of 840′.  A manufacturer was not announced but Doppelmayr has built every new lift at Beaver Creek since 2003.  The McCoy Park expansion was first proposed in late 2017 and green lighted by the Forest Service last November.  A second lift for egress from McCoy Park was also approved but is not yet slated for construction.

Cabin Falls From a Gondola in Switzerland

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No one was injured when a downbound cabin detached from a haul rope near the Swiss town of Schwyz this morning.  The empty gondola fell some 60 feet into a pasture and was heavily damaged.  Approximately 50 people in other carriers were brought into stations normally and the gondola was closed.  It appears the incident happened at or near one of the lift’s 16 towers.

The gondola is a 2014 Garaventa model with CWA Omega cabins and torsion grips.  An investigation will be undertaken by the Swiss Transportation Safety Board.  The company which operates the lift, Rotenfluebahn Mythenregion AG, says it will not reopen the system until it is cleared to do so and the rope is inspected for damage.

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Doppelmayr Worldbook entry for the affected lift.

Update 10/21: The operator issued a statement blaming the accident on high wind.  The affected cabin collided with the tower before falling.  The installation was already in the process of being cleared of riders when the incident occurred, a process which takes 20 minutes.  The gondola remains temporarily closed.

News Roundup: Wish Lists

Whitefish Plans a Fourth Detachable

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A new detachable quad will soon join the lift fleet at Whitefish Mountain Resort, although the exact timeline is uncertain.  The Chair 4 Express (name TBD) will be the first detachable lift servicing the mountain’s new day lodge, where nearly 70 percent of Whitefish skiers now start their day.  The big lift will replace Great Northern, a Stadeli triple which opened in 1978 but loads higher than the replacement.  The top terminal will be very close to where the old Chair 5 unloaded.

The new lift will open a half hour earlier than the workhorse Big Mountain Express and relieve pressure from the Base Lodge and Bad Rock beginner lifts.  Hourly capacity will be 2,200 skiers, more than double Chair 4 on the rare occasions it is open.  A number of trails will be re-graded to converge at the new load point.  “When people stand at the current carpet lift and look up the mountain when this project is done it will look very different from how it looks today,” says Whitefish.

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The new Chair 4 will be approximately 7,000 feet long with 2,200 feet of rise, even more than the current triple.

The resort did not release a timeline or manufacturer although planning is well underway.  Whitefish is already seeking Forest Service approval for its Hellroaring Basin improvement project, which includes two new lifts.  If approved, all three new lifts will be well worth the wait on an already great Big Mountain.