Instagram Tuesday: Voids

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

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Disney Skyliner Work Accelerates

Those interested in reading only about ski lifts can skip this post.  For everyone else, the Disney Skyliner is poised to become among the world’s highest profile ropeways a bit over a year from now and one worth following.  I plan on scrambling to Walt Disney World as soon as the three Skyliner gondolas open, but for now, we can rely on Twitter user bioreconstruct, a relentless documentarian of everything Disney.

The Skyliner will bring Epcot within just a few minutes’ reach for guests staying at four Disney World Resort hotels.  At the storied park’s International Gateway, what will likely be the second busiest gondola station is in the early phases of construction near the current boat dock.  This one will be mostly open air with a few unique Disney touches on an otherwise dark gray Doppelmayr terminal.

A few tower foundations are going in for the stage from Epcot to the BoardWalk Inn parking lot, where an angle station is also beginning to form.  Cabins will turn sharply here but doors will stay closed in both directions.

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Hunter Mountain to Expand Northward with a Six-Pack

One of New York’s most popular resorts that hosts some 300,000 skiers annually confirmed today it will add a third detachable lift and five new trails in time for the 2018-19 season.  A 3,245-foot six-person chairlift (Hunter’s second) will service the Hunter North expansion between the front side and Hunter West, adding 25 percent more skiable terrain.  At 1,000 feet per minute, a ride up will take just 3.5 minutes.  A new parking area and access road will accompany the on mountain additions.  “The Hunter North expansion will provide our guests and Peak Pass passholders with an entirely new area to explore,” said Jesse Boyd, Senior VP of Operations of Peak Resorts in a press release. “The new entrance, arrival area and high-speed lift will provide guests with easy access to a new area of intermediate-level terrain that will dramatically broaden the variety of trails that Hunter has to offer.”

Peak Resorts, the publicly-traded parent company of Hunter and 13 other mountains in the east, says the expansion will cost around $9 million and add $1.5-2 million in incremental earnings annually.  All necessary approvals are in place and construction is set to begin this month.  No manufacturer was announced but the lift is likely to be built by Leitner-Poma as all of Hunter’s lifts were, save for one Hall.

News Roundup: Paving the Way

  • Crystal Mountain owner John Kircher revives the idea of a second gondola to Campbell Basin, which would be around 7,800′ long and closely follow the one time path of an SLI double chair.
  • Vermont shuts down the Hermitage Club for a third time as more lawsuits are filed against the business and its founder.  One by a food service company argues, “The dire financial circumstances facing the defendants compel the plaintiff to press forward with alacrity…the collectible assets of the defendants appear to be dwindling.”
  • The New York City Economic Development Corporation is again studying a gondola to connect Lower Manhattan with a redeveloped Governors Island.
  • With 2,400 cabins headed out the door this year alone, CWA is expanding its production capabilities in Switzerland.  Photos from the factory floor show new cabins bound for Montana, Hawaii and more.
  • Park City’s NPR station reports a chair slid into another chair on the Jupiter lift in January, resulting in an injury, three day closure and now litigation.
  • Approval of Woodward Park City is upheld, paving the way for construction of a fixed-grip quad.
  • The Forest Service tentatively approves Purgatory’s proposed Gelande high-speed lift.
  • A real estate development now under construction includes money for reopening New York’s Big Tupper with up to five lifts.
  • New owners at Owl’s Head, Quebec may spend up to $150 million on new lifts and other improvements.  The mountain currently includes three 1980s-era detachables including the world’s first high-speed quad from Breckenridge.
  • Lift construction season is here!  Thanks to Carleton G. for these photos of Waterville Valley’s new LST T-Bar.

Instagram Tuesday: Bold

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

#chairlift series on #summiteast

A post shared by Cliff Rosson (@cliffrosson) on

Building a Bigger Big White

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Big White is famous for its above tree line skiing and grew to become one of BC’s busiest ski resorts by catering to families.

The Schumann Family is about to construct its twelfth new lift at Big White Ski Resortthe first lift addition in a dozen years here.  Back in 1985, Australian Desmond Schumann bought the mountain out of receivership following his success at Mt. Hotham before acquiring nearby Silver Star to form Schumann Resorts Ltd.  Back in the eighties, Big White was a sea of T-Bars and double chairs as primarily a day use area for nearby Kelowna.  Fast forward to my first visit there in the 1990s and nearly every lift had been moved or replaced, with the eventual addition of a Leitner-Poma six-pack in 2006.  Mr. Schumann died in 2012 and Big White and Silver Star went their separate ways with separate children.  Today, the larger of the two is run by descendant Peter Plimmer and the last pre-Schumann-era lift will carry its final passengers on Sunday.

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Now in its third-generation of family ownership, Big White has been working with Brent Harley & Associates of Whistler over the last 15 years on an ambitious master plan to guide development over the next many decades.  It’s important to note that Canadian master plans tend to be aspirational and do not necessarily represent eventual reality.  Whistler Blackcomb has its own big plan; Sun Peaks has one and so do unproven destinations such as Revelstoke and Valemount Glacier.

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Part of the current Big White vision focuses on the Gem Lake area, which opened with a single 8,000’+ high-speed quad in 1996 that services approximately half of the entire resort.  New lifts are eyed for either side of the current one to add more capacity and terrain.  A much-needed mid-mountain infill lift is also planned for between Powder and Gem.  As the first base area one encounters when driving from Kelowna, Gem Lake will continue to serve primarily as a base camp for locals.  Two more lifts could rise on the west side of the highway for intermediate skiers and snowboarders.

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The current Gem Lake Express is a workhorse with over 2,300′ of vertical and often many riders.

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News Roundup: Symphony

Sun Peaks to Build New East Village Lift

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Canada’s second largest ski resort near Kamloops, British Columbia today unveiled plans for its tenth lift, a $3.1 million fixed-grip quad chair above the East Village.  The new lift will complement Sun Peaks’ existing Morrisey Express with its bottom terminal located nearby.  It will then cross the Sun Peaks road and climb over existing ski terrain with a top terminal above the East Village Ski Way.  “This lift project is especially rewarding to announce today. Better access from the East Village is vital to our overall experience and future success,” said Darcy Alexander, Vice President and General Manager of Sun Peaks in an early morning press release.  “The new lift is something we are really pleased to add to the mix for next winter and it will greatly enhance our industry leading ski-in ski-out design”

The specific run layout is currently in development but will see a green trail option to the village from the top of the lift consistent with all other resort lifts and a well-known element of the Sun Peaks ski experience.  Additionally, the lift will provide improved access to some of the most underrated and underutilized ski terrain with family-friendly blue runs and pockets of glade skiing.  New chairs will also be added this summer to the Sundance Express for a 30 percent increase in capacity as part of an overall $47 million capital plan for 2018.  No manufacturer was named for the new quad but Sun Peaks is currently an all-Doppelmayr mountain and a wholly owned subsidiary of Nippon Cable, Doppelmayr’s longtime partner in Japan.

Instagram Tuesday: Turning

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

Beech Mountain Adding Two Doppelmayr Quads

Beech Mountain, North Carolina will replace two of its workhorse chairlifts ahead of the 2018/2019 winter season as had been rumored for weeks.  Lift 5, which ascends to the 5,506-foot summit and was originally built in 1987, is currently being disassembled in preparation for the installation of a new Doppelymayr fixed-grip quad.  The new lift will include a loading conveyor to ensure safe boarding, higher travel speeds and shorter trip times.  Lift 5 will now include 144 chairs with a 6.5 minute ride time accommodating 2,400 people per hour.

This marks only the second time in North American history that a fixed-grip chairlift will replace a detachable one, though there could be more in the near future.  Sugarbush, Vermont swapped the 1990 Green Mountain Express for a fixed quad in 1995, though the route went detachable again in 2002.  Willamette Pass, Oregon’s detachable six-pack is currently up for sale, eyed to be replaced with a fixed-grip lift that would be more affordable to operate.  A used T-Bar may also rise this summer at Ascutney, Vermont on the site of a former high-speed quad.  If Tamarack, Idaho is ever able to rebuild the Wildwood Express, it could be another detachable-turned-fixed-grip scenario.

Back to Beech, Lift 6, currently a double chair with parts from Goforth Brothers, Hall and Doppelmayr, will be replaced with another Doppelmayr fixed-grip quad.  This one will feature 106 chairs and a 6.5 minute travel time with a capacity of 2,000 people per hour.  Both quad lifts will feature footrests, upholstered seating and back rests.  Guests can now expect to reach the mountain’s 5,506-foot summit with easy on-and-off loading, comfortable seating, and a more efficient layout to eliminate congestion.