Exploring Big White’s Backcountry Project

bigwhiteoverview

As I first wrote last summer, Big White Ski Resort is eyeing its most ambitious expansion since the 1996 Gem Lake megaproject.  This time, a pair of quad chairs are planned for east of the Black Forest Express, servicing 300 acres of new intermediate trails and glades within the mountain’s existing controlled recreation area.  The expansion is in place of one once planned for west of Gem Lake.  “The Black Forest Connector and Backcountry chairs will build on and complement the Black Forest ski pod, the most popular area at Big White,” notes Brent Harley and Associates, which prepared the plan.  “Together, these chairlifts represent the full realization of the vision described in the 1999 Master Plan, and the fulfillment of the Controlled Recreation Area’s physical potential to offer a world class alpine skiing experience.”

liftstats

A gorgeous new daylodge and parking lot opened at the base of Black Forest in 2015, encouraging regional guests to bypass the congested village portal.  The upcoming lifts are envisioned as gateways to even more terrain planned for East Peak eventually.  Both lifts would be 2,400 passenger per hour quads with Backcountry being detachable and Black Forest Connector being fixed grip.  The former would rise 1,250 feet over a slope length of 4,977′ in under five minutes.  The smaller lift would be about 4,354 feet long with a vertical of 666′ and ride time just under nine minutes.

bigwhiteexpansion

Big White operates a mix of mostly older Doppelmayr lifts and a few newer Leitner-Poma models, so I could see either company winning the next contract.  Just last year, the resort’s Powder triple was replaced with a Leitner-Poma Alpha quad.  Big White initially intended to build both Backcountry lifts in 2019 but the project is still listed as “Under Review” by the province.  Not to worry though, the resort is focusing on new bike trails, Gem Lake base area improvements and new employee housing this summer.

Advertisements

A Dozen Years In, Revelstoke Reassesses

revelstoke 3-26-10 113
Revelstoke Mountain Resort currently operates four Leitner-Poma Omega detachable lifts built in 2007 and 2008.

More than $200 million was invested to create Revelstoke Mountain Resort, an Ikon Pass destination in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia.  While the skiing is undeniably fantastic, the resort’s timing was poor, launching on the cusp of the global financial crisis in December 2007.  Acquired by Northland Properties from an American developer just a year into operation, Revelstoke has slowly grown to 3,100 acres, two gondola sections and two quad chairlifts with a third set to open this year.

phase 2
Last month, Revelstoke Mountain Resort filed a new master plan with the province.  This map shows the current buildout and phase 2.

Revelstoke features a continent-leading vertical rise 5,620 feet and the longest run goes on for nearly ten miles.  The lower village lies along the Columbia River at 1,680 feet.  Despite the addition of snowmaking in 2011, the entire lower mountain is sometimes closed due to lack of snow.  The resort’s new master plan focuses on higher alpine terrain where snowfall is plentiful and reliable.  The lift currently under construction, originally called Cupcake but now known as Stellar, will service a teaching zone at 5,600 feet near the summit of the Revelation Gondola.

Stellar-Chair-Rendition-web

In addition to the new Leitner-Poma quad, all four existing lifts will be brought up to their maximum capacities of 2,600 to 2,800 passengers per hour this summer through carrier additions.  That means 22 new gondola cabins, 21 chairs for The Stoke and 42 more for The Ripper.

After this summer, Northland plans to shift back to adding alpine terrain Revelstoke is famous for.  A high speed lift in the North Bowl of Mt. Mackenzie will provide access above The Ripper with a vertical rise of 1,970 feet.  The new South Bowl quad will add 395 acres at even higher elevation with panoramic views of the Columbia.  Phase 2c envisions a lift duo backing up the Revelation Gondola and a new intermediate quad known as Lift 15.  “The focus of Phase 2 will be on increasing uphill lift capacity to accommodate increased visitation, as well as terrain development at higher elevations in more snow-reliable areas within the resort’s current boundary,” notes the approved plan.

Continue reading

News Roundup: Win-Win

Instagram Tuesday: Big Blue

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

News Roundup: Skier Days

  • After missing last season, Mt. Timothy gears up to reopen under new ownership.
  • Tariffs on imported Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum are history as of last weekend.
  • The “Balsams Bill” becomes law in New Hampshire.
  • Creditors seek an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy of the Hermitage Club.
  • Jackson Hole wants to increase clearance under the aerial tramway for big snow years.
  • The first indoor chairlift in America should finally open this fall in New Jersey.
  • Utah crushes its previous skier visit record, hosting more than five million skiers for the first time in history.
  • Jay Peak and Burke Mountain’s former owner and ex-CEO are indicted by a federal grand jury on 14 counts.
  • As of April 30th, 26 potential Jay Peak buyers had signed non-disclosure agreements.  The resort says revenue was up 4 percent this season, skier visits increased 3.5 percent and room nights shot up 11 percent.
  • Burke Mountain is still losing money but revenue increased by 26 percent this season, skier visits were up 20 percent and room nights 47 percent.
  • With the Forest Service’s blessing, Ski Cooper embarks on adding 71 acres and a Leitner-Poma T-Bar for next season.
  • The Poma-built urban cable car in the Dominican Republic capital transported over four million passengers in its first year.
  • Mexico City’s transportation authority rejects all three Cablebus bids from Leitner, Bartholet and Doppelmayr.
  • A Loveland, Colorado developer still wants to build a gondola as part of an amusement complex.
  • The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority selects Elon Musk’s Boring Company to build a new people mover over Doppelmayr.
  • Still no opening date for the Disney Skyliner but gondola merchandise has arrived.
  • In a few years, you may be able to ride twin tramways between Russia and China with immigration and customs facilities at each end.

Daren Cole Takes the Helm at Leitner-Poma of America

3V3A7916

After more than 40 years at Leitner-Poma of America, Rick Spear is stepping away from his role as president.  Daren Cole, a 25 year ski industry veteran, will lead the company’s next phase of growth.  Over his decades with the company, Spear was integral in transferring ownership and moving the North American headquarters from Vermont to Grand Junction, Colorado.  “It is time to move over and let younger minds and bodies take over,” said Spear.  “In total agreement with ownership I am scaling back and will be actively involved in strategic aspects of the company as a member of the board of directors with a focus on urban ropeway opportunities.  I know that I am leaving LPOA in good hands. Daren has shown a level of dedication and leadership to the company that will successfully transition into the future.”

IMG_6534

Cole joined Leitner-Poma in 2014 in business development and quickly added strategic planning to his roster.  He has been responsible for sales strategy and process that has led to an increase in sales.  Daren started his career at Purgatory as national sales manager and then was promoted to director of sales.  He spent more than a decade with Vail Resorts in several sales and marketing positions.  As vice president of sales and marketing at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Cole increased skier visits by 10 percent, and both resort revenue and net promoter scores had double-digit increases.  He then went on to lead Powderhorn Mountain Resort as general manager in charge of all resort operations.  While running Powderhorn, he championed several key initiatives to impact the resort’s bottom line including a new point of sale system, a guest service training program as well as a new website and focus on social media.

“I am honored to take the helm and serve our customers and our employees at Leitner-Poma,” said Cole.  “The right equipment for the right job is the exact solution we provide.  Our experienced and knowledgeable staff is unrivaled in the industry and I look forward to working with them to continue to move our company forward.”

Leitner-Poma of America is the North American subsidiary of Poma S.A. of Voreppe, France and a sister company of Leitner AG with headquarters in Sterzing, Italy.  Last year was one of the firm’s strongest ever in North America and included the debut of three groundbreaking DirectDrive lifts at Copper Mountain and Winter Park Resort.  Leitner-Poma is already off to another packed summer building new lifts across the United States and Canada.

On a personal note, Daren was an early and ardent supporter of mine as I grew this website and I am grateful for his help.  I wish Daren and the entire LPOA team success as they enter this new chapter.

Park City Announces 37th Aerial Lift

Vail Resorts will continue its commitment to new infrastructure at Park City Mountain this off-season with the installation of a new fixed-grip quad, the company revealed today.  Dubbed “Over and Out,” the lift will connect a spot near the bottom of the Tombstone six pack with the top of the Sunrise double, giving skiers and snowboarders a much-needed egress route from the heart of the mountain and the popular Quicksilver Gondola.  Ride time will be approximately five minutes.
PCtrailmap
This will be the fifth new lift for Vail since buying Park City five years ago.  “Since combining Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort in 2015, our focus has been on enhancing the guest experience,” said Bill Rock, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Park City Mountain in a statement.  “We continue to evolve as a resort and prioritize our capital improvements based on guest feedback.  We know that time is particularly valuable to our guests and the new lift will offer a faster and more convenient route to return to Canyons Village.”  Construction is expected be complete by December, pending permitting.

The latest project news comes a few months after Vail’s commitments to build new lifts at Crested Butte and Stevens Pass for next winter along with a planned T-Bar on Vail Mountain.  Park City’s lift manufacturer was not revealed and it’s possible Over and Out will be a re-engineered High Meadow.  That 1997 CTEC Sprint model quad was removed a year ago to make way for the High Meadow Express.

Update 5/24: I’ve confirmed with Park City that Over and Out will be a brand new Skytrac Monarch.

Instagram Tuesday: High Flying

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

 

First Disney Skyliner Cabins Revealed

In addition to becoming one of the most-ridden gondola systems when it opens this fall, we now know the Disney Skyliner will also be among the most colorful.  After nearly two years of construction, cabins are finally out and about on all three new gondola lines spanning Walt Disney World Resort.

The cabins crisscross between the world’s seventh and ninth most-visited theme parks plus four resort hotels.  Last week, Disney and Doppelmayr removed protective covers from 55 cabins that will service Hollywood Studios, revealing a cornucopia of colors and characters.

There are eight core colors including multiple shades of blue and red.  Some cabins are monotone while others feature Disney icons from across nine decades.  Beauty and the Beast, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, Toy Story and Winnie the Pooh are just some of the storied franchises highlighted on gondolas.

Continue reading

News Roundup: Master Plans