News Roundup: A Million

  • Foundation work is starting for Disney gondolas.
  • Partek will build a fixed-grip quad at Mt. Peter, NY this summer.
  • East River Skyway proposal expanded to five phases with more possible stations.
  • Belleayre bid documents suggest December 2017 completion and a name for gondola: Catskill Thunder.  Funding was approved Monday though I’m told a manufacturer has not yet been awarded the contract.
  • NY State Fair gondola is also funded, separate from a chairlift to be built there by SkyTrans Manufacturing this summer.
  • Lee Canyon seeks approval to build two new quad chairs in new places.
  • Work to resume on Poma gondola in Zacatecas, Mexico with commissioning scheduled for September.
  • Gould Academy may build a T-Bar up Monday Mourning at Sunday River.
  • Intrawest stock hits record high amid acquisition rumblings.
  • A Yan detachable still operates with original grips in Spain.
  • Quebec announces $70 million in subsidies to support infrastructure investments at ski resorts in the province, including lift upgrades.
  • SEC filing shows exactly how much CNL Lifestyle Properties paid for each of the 16 ski resorts it owns.  The most valuable was Northstar at $80.1 million with Loon Mountain selling for just $15.5 million. The Gatlinburg Sky Lift operation went for a whopping $19.9 million!
  • Bridger Bowl to sell chairs from Virginia City if buyer falls through.
  • Interalpin, the every-other-year mountain technology nerd fest is April 26-28.
  • If rent payments to the federal government are any indication, Colorado is booming.
  • Flying demo tent gets hung up on Stowe gondola.
  • Staff at Barcelona’s urban gondola will strike.
  • In addition to completing the Green Lift, Magic Mountain will install a new motor and drive for the Black Lift and return capacity to three per chair.
  • Lift Blog reaches 1,000 Instagram followers, 700 Facebook fans and 1,000,000 page views.  Thank you to everyone who has supported me with this project over the last two years.

Killington Adding South Ridge Quad in 2018

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A new South Ridge quad chair will debut at Killington Resort for 2018-19 in the path of an old chairlift retired in 2011.

Killington Resort and a local developer will invest $110 million to revitalize Bear Mountain over the next few years, including the addition of a fixed-grip quad chair at South Ridge next summer.  Most of the plans involve base infrastructure and real estate but the lift news is exciting given the South Ridge area has been without direct service since its triple chair was removed in 2011.  The $3 million quad chair will be the first new lift at the East’s most visited resort since the addition of the Skye Peak Express in 2008.  “This Bear Mountain Revitalization Plan is especially exciting for me because I know that our core group of season pass holders has wanted a new South Ridge lift since the day we removed the old one,” says Mike Solimano, president and general manager of Killington Resort. “With the trail work our team has planned, this layout should greatly enhance the Killington experience by improving connectivity between the north and south sides of the resort.”  The Bear Mountain Quad, a 1979 Yan will remain for now but is likely to be upgraded in the future with new development at its base.

Lift Engineering built the old South Ridge lift in the shape of a triangle, a wacky setup that will not be repeated.  The new version will follow the path of the old light side from the bottom of Roundabout to an unload near the summit of Killington Peak.  “From the top of the Bear Mountain Quad, the long-awaited replacement of the South Ridge lift will give skiers and snowboarders easy access the resort’s north side terrain including the Canyon and Snowdon areas, or easy access to the many trails in the sunny South Ridge area,” says Jeff Temple, director of mountain operations.  Leitner-Poma is likely to build the fixed-grip quad as a longstanding supplier to Killington, but there’s also a chance it could go to Doppelmayr with Powdr Co.’s recent history.  In further good news, The Beast also announced an agreement yesterday to host World Cup ski racing in both 2017 and 2018.

Instagram Tuesday: Vivid

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Leitner-Poma to Build New Supreme Lift at Alta in Return to Utah

Sixty-seven, five, zero.  Those are the numbers of lifts built in the state of Utah by Doppelmayr, Skytrac and Leitner-Poma since 1998, respectively.  Nevertheless, a Leitner-Poma high-speed quad will replace both the Cecret and Supreme chairlifts at Alta this summer, further modernizing the famed Wasatch ski area’s lift fleet.

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The Supreme alignment was modified from the initial proposal (in yellow) to avoid wetlands while still utilizing 3,250′ of the existing lift line.

Like the Collins lift, the new Supreme will feature an angle change and rise from Alf’s Restaurant to near 10,600-foot Point Supreme.  “Detachable technology gives us greater control over skiers delivered per hour, while at the same time giving our skiers a shorter ride time,” notes Alta GM Onno Wieringa.  Unlike Collins, the lift will turn 8.4 degrees using canted tower sheaves instead of an angle station.  In place of the Garaventa CTEC Stealths and Doppelmayr Uni-Gs so ubiquitous in the Wasatch, Supreme will sport Leitner-Poma LPA terminals manufactured in Grand Junction.

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Fans of Supreme’s light side flyovers and half towers will have to get their fix at Wildcat after this winter.

The news is huge for Utah, the third largest lift market in America but one nearly devoid of competition since the 2002 merger of Doppelmayr and CTEC.  Of 138 operating lifts in the Beehive State, Doppelmayr or companies it acquired built 98 of them. Second for market share in Utah with 27 operating lifts still belongs to Lift Engineering, out of business since 1996.  Salt Lake-based Skytrac arrived on scene in 2011, installing a handful of lifts at PowMow, Sundance and Beaver Mountain, but never joined the detachable lift game before being acquired by Leitner-Poma last spring.  Poma last built lifts in Utah at The Canyons in 1997, apparently because neither Doppelmayr nor Garaventa CTEC could fulfill American Skiing Company’s massive order for eight new lifts that year.  The Cottonwood Canyons are chock full of Doppelmayr and CTEC lifts and only four Pomas remain in the entire state, until next fall.

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Snow Valley Announces Southern California’s First Six-Pack

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Lift 1 at Snow Valley Resort will be replaced this summer with a Leitner-Poma detachable six-place chairlift serving the heart of the mountain.

Snow Valley Resort in the San Bernadino Mountains will join the growing ranks of American ski resorts with a high-speed lift next winter, opening a six-pack in place of Chair 1.  More details are below, but first, resort marketers take note. Snow Valley made two interesting choices today.  One, they announced the new lift on a Sunday, when there is a smaller audience but also a lot less “noise” on the internet (I can’t remember the last time lift news broke on a weekend and yesterday was not an option.)  Two, they teased the announcement with a photo and invited guests to guess the big reveal on Facebook with a chance to win free lift tickets.  As of this writing, that post has garnered 92 comments, likely more than the actual announcement will see.  Many commenters nailed it, while others opined Snow Valley was opening a Starbucks, had discovered a new way to control the weather or would begin offering free beer.  Nothing like a little suspense to grab people’s attention and spur engagement on a Sunday morning.

Now to the lift news.  Snow Valley is one of those high density resorts with twelve Yan fixed-grips and an hourly uphill capacity of 17,500 skiers on 240 acres (at Jackson Hole where I work, we operate a dozen lifts with about the same capacity spread across 2,500 acres.)  Leitner-Poma of America completed a retrofit of Chair 13 at Snow Valley in 2013 and will build the new detachable six-pack, which will ascend approximately 800 feet over 5,000 feet of slope length with a ride time of 4.9 minutes. “This new lift will open up new opportunities for Snow Valley in the future, including the possibility of summer operations,” said Kevin Somes, Vice President and General Manager of Snow Valley Resort.  “We look forward to sharing many seasons of fun ahead and we dedicate this lift to all of our guests and team members.”  The new lift will cost just under $6 million.

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News Roundup: Opponents

Sun Valley Plans Cold Springs Canyon Expansion & High-Speed Quad

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Sun Valley Resort plans to replace its oldest chairlift with a new, longer high-speed quad and open 380 acres of Cold Springs Canyon to skiing in 2018.  A future plans webpage launched today details the planned expansion within Bald Mountain’s existing permit area on Bureau of Land Management and National Forest lands.  North-facing terrain in Turkey Bowl and Cold Springs Canyon would be gladed with an extended Lower Broadway run leading to the bottom of a new detachable quad chairlift.  South-facing terrain underneath the lift would also be opened when conditions permit.

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Along its 5,500 foot length, the new Cold Springs detachable quad would traverse some crazy side-hill and actually go downhill for a stretch.

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The proposed extended alignment of the new detachable Cold Springs chairlift.
The new high speed quad is slated to replace the Cold Springs double, a Yan/Riblet hybrid that dates back to 1970.  The new chairlift would be nearly twice as long and rise 1,550 vertical feet, up from the current 1,069′.  Ride time would still decrease from 6.7 minutes to 6 minutes with a top terminal moved closer to the Roundhouse Gondola.  After the upgrade, Bald Mountain would have only two fixed-grip chairlifts remaining – Mayday and Lookout – with two more left on Dollar Mountain.

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Instagram Tuesday: Spring

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

4,100 metres high! #mountains #cablecar #travel #backpacking #backpacker #beautiful #quito #flowers #nature

A post shared by Georgia Knott (@georgia_knott) on

#work#winter#office#mountains#doppelmayr#kasprowywierch#tatry

A post shared by Krecik (@krecik98) on

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Copper Mountain Adding Kokomo Express

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Copper Mountain’s Kokomo triple is a 1981 Poma that will be replaced with a new, longer high speed quad this summer.

Powdr Co. has reached a deal with Doppelmayr to build a new Kokomo high speed quad at Copper Mountain, following a recently announced Eldora six-pack for 2017-18.  The new lift will extend downhill of the current triple chair, built in 1981 at Copper Mountain’s West Village.  Kokomo Express will serve 362 vertical feet of dedicated beginner terrain with a four minute ride time, “setting the bar for an exceptional beginner ski and ride experience,” Copper said in a press release today.  The new Kokomo follows on the heels of the Union Creek Express, built in 2011, and two new surface lifts in 2013, all installed by Doppelmayr USA.

Copper also announced implementation of RFID lift access technology at key lifts and a mountain coaster for next season.  “The future is extremely bright for Copper,” said Gary Rodgers, President and General Manager of Copper Mountain. “These strategic capital improvements will enhance our product offerings and truly elevate the year-round guest experience at Copper.”  The Kokomo Express is the seventh lift to be announced at Colorado resorts for this summer.  New lifts will also debut at Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Eldora, Keystone, Vail and Wolf Creek next winter.  The addition of Kokomo means Doppelmayr will build at least 14 North American lifts in 2017; last year the company built 18 in the United States and Canada.

News Roundup: $4.6 Billion