Panorama Gondola Upper – Mammoth Mountain, CA

The upper section has an epic span from the top of Face Lift to the summit.
View down the face towards McCoy Station.
Looking down the line.
Tall towers.
Lift line above the mid.
Upper lift line.
View up from the first tower of section II.
Doppelemayr terminal attached to building.
Top bullwheel.
Deceleration up top.
Monster breakover.
Looking down from the summit.
Lift line overview.
Top station building.
View down from the top.
Breakover from below.
CWA Omega III 8 cabins.
Looking up towards the summit.
The big span.
Rails to cabin parking.
Cabins transferring from section I.
Rails and switches at the mid.
Doppelmayr Worldbook entry.

24 thoughts on “Panorama Gondola Upper – Mammoth Mountain, CA

    • Phoenix March 15, 2020 / 4:58 pm

      That’s a tricable reversible tram – it’s not comparable to a monocable detachable ropeway. By MDG standards this is a huge span.


      • skiz March 15, 2020 / 5:12 pm

        park city’s 2 gondolas have fairly large spans


    • 3 Valées October 10, 2022 / 6:15 pm

      Incomparable. You are basically comparing a M1A2 Abrams vs Chevrolet Silverado by comparing a tramway to a monocable gondola, and saying that an M1A2 Abrams tank redefines towing capacity compared to a pickup truck lol. Also to note, North America, especially the United States, has rapidly closed the technological and numerical gap of modern ski lifts with Western Europe. Every major Colorado, Utah, Montana, Vermont, and Washington is on par with major European ski lifts in terms of modern, high speed cable transportation. The days of Europe having superior lifts compared to North America are finally over, thanks to Vail, Boyne, Aspen, etc.


      • skitheeast October 10, 2022 / 10:41 pm

        Boyne is closing the gap. Everyone else, not so much. There has yet to be a 3S gondola built in the US and bubbles and heated seats are still viewed as rare additions. Vail and Breck each rank around number 10 globally for annual skier visits and combine to have 3 gondolas. Saas Fee in Switzerland, which ranks well below the top 10, has 6 gondolas, including 2 3S gondolas, plus 2 trams and a funicular.


        • Bob October 11, 2022 / 10:47 am

          Let’s back up a bit. There are two main reasons for building a 3S system:

          1: Wind resistance
          2: High Capacity

          In terms of number 1, I don’t see any of Vail’s or Breck’s gondolas having wind problems. I’ve never seen or heard of them having to close due to wind. I don’t know much about skiing in Europe, but from my observations, I believe they have more wind, and therefore, would need more wind resistant lifts. Therefore, European resorts are more likely to buy a 3S versus a monocable because they are more wind resistant. (Basically what I’m saying is that wind is more of a problem in Europe than it is in the US.) I’d say that there is only 1 gondola that Vail built that should have been a 3S for wind problems, and that’s Quicksilver at Park City. However, it is not a big deal if that closes, because there are other ways from one side of the resort to the other. In addition, Quicksilver still doesn’t make sense as a 3S because of the angle station, the amount of space there is for terminals (especially by Miner’s camp), and there would be waaay to much capacity for that lift.

          Speaking of capacity, that’s another reason to get a 3S. I do think that VR has some problems with capacity on their lifts, but it would be much simpler just to get a high-capacity gondola (10+ people) versus a 3S. I almost feel that a 3S at much of VR’s gondolas would have too much capacity. Take Breck’s gondola for example. The main purpose of Breck’s gondola is to provide a link between the parking lot, village and base area. If Breck’s gondola were a 3S, sure there would be less lines at the parking lot and villages, but the extra influx of people going into the base area would overwhelm the lifts at the base. Therefore, a 3S gondola in this situation doesn’t fix the capacity problem, it just moves the capacity problem around. Instead of the gondola having overwhelming lines, the Colorado SuperChair, Rocky Mountain SuperChair, and Independence SuperChair would have long lines. This would be on top of the already massive lines they currently have.

          As for trams, they fill a very small niche in the lift market. I feel that most resorts have a tram not because they need one, but because it’s their flagship lift. Although it’s not a VR resort, take the example of Snowbird.

          Snowbird doesn’t really need their tram. There are plenty of ways up the mountain that aren’t the tram. However, the tram is Snowbird’s flagship lift, so removing it would be like Audi changing their logo to a single square. In addition, many people feel nosalgic about the tram and don’t want it removed. This is true for practically all trams, not just Snowbird’s. In the early 2000s, Jackson Hole wanted to replace their tram. Jackson Hole was exploring different possibilities to replace the tram, but the locals overwhelmingly gave their support towards another tram.

          So, to round up my thoughts, 3S gondolas, trams, and funiculars are super cool. I do think that they work in Europe, but I just can’t see a reason for them to be in the US. Boyne kind of surprised everybody by announcing all of their D-Line projects, and to be honest, I don’t see a need for some of them. I think that there are more cost-effective solutions that would have gotten the job done just as well. I don’t know when Peter took his pictures of Ramcharger, but looking at them, there are not very many full chairs going up the mountain. Therefore, it seems that Boyne could have just built a 6-pack or 6/8 chondola and it would have have the same PPH in practice. Don’t get me wrong: I think that it’s super cool Boyne is putting in all these high-tech lifts; I’m never against a cool lift. However, looking at the situation these lifts are being installed in, I can’t help but wonder what rationale Boyne was using when it decided on these lifts.


        • 3 Valees October 11, 2022 / 11:47 am

          Good points, I just meant North America since BC has the Peak 2 Peak 3s, Palisades has the Funitel, Banff has a 2s (albeit an old one), we have modern Trams at Jackson Hole, 8 packs, Chondolas, etc. So in North America we have examples of nearly every lift technology (still waiting for a Funifor) found in Europe nowadays, which wasnt true 20 years ago. In terms of the amount of lifts at one resort, Saas Fee, 3 Valees, Kitzenhorn, for example are all a series of smaller resorts under one lift ticket, which is why there are so many lifts. If the OneWasatch concept materializes, it will rival many of Europes major resort in amount of lifts.


        • skitheeast October 12, 2022 / 8:41 am

          In terms of wind resistance, your point about how it is really not too big of a deal if Quicksilver closes is exactly the difference between North American and European lift mentality. That lift, along with the under construction California Express lift, would be obvious 3S candidates in Europe. Yes, it would have been more expensive, but there is absolutely enough room and it does not need to be overbuilt in terms of capacity (Peak 2 Peak at Whistler moves 2050 pph).

          To your second point about capacity: Vail and Breck both have the crowds to warrant a high capacity 3S system. I would not necessarily replace any lifts in their current alignments, but my back-of-the-napkin ideas at Vail would be one from Lionshead to Vail Village and one from Vail Village to Patrol HQ at the top of Northwoods.


        • Danny Bryant October 12, 2022 / 8:58 am

          SkiTheEast…one thing everyone keeps forgetting to mention is that the European governments provide subsidies to the ski resorts in many cases. This helps alleviate the cost of lift construction to the resort operators. I do not see the US Government doing subsidies for the US ski industry any time soon.


    • liftnerd February 12, 2023 / 4:24 pm

      Was that L’Aguille du Midi? It’s second stage has no towers at all!


  1. Duncan N. March 22, 2018 / 9:03 am

    What lift was used before the lower section was installed? It says that both portions of the older gondola were already removed.


    • Max Hart March 22, 2018 / 9:29 am

      Probably just Broadway, or tandem use of other lower mountain detachables.


    • snowbasinlocal12894 September 3, 2019 / 3:37 pm

      Zip line to each cabin and lower them down with rope? Must be real fun with a big span like that. Same goes with the big span over thaynes canyon on quicksilver gondola at park city.


  2. Collin Parsons July 28, 2019 / 2:25 pm

    Does this gondola operate at the top speed of 1200 feet per minute? If not how fast is it typically?


    • Maxwell September 2, 2019 / 7:23 pm

      It runs at 1200 if there is good weather and it’s not windy. If there is wind and snow then it goes between 900 and 1000. I go to Mammoth alot and the average speed it runs at is between 1000 and 1100.


    • Collin Parsons September 2, 2019 / 10:29 pm

      I looked for recordings and I can’t find anything anywhere near full speed, but good to hear that it runs fast sometimes.


      • ryand1407 December 14, 2022 / 12:02 pm

        It often runs very fast after a storm leaves the top shut down on a low wind day. You can easily feel the difference between 1200 and the 900 that it slows down to once the (perpetually windy) summit opens

        I’m always annoyed when I ride 6/Unbound or 3/Face Lift and I’m quickly passing the adjacent cabins.


  3. Raj Thorp March 1, 2020 / 1:11 pm

    This lift is cool, because it has the space jet terminal at the bottom, and a building. The only long gondola system I’ve seen with a spacejet terminal is Cloudsplitter at Whiteface. I really like this lift too, because the cabins are very modern. They are CWA cabins and only hold 8 people, but they look bigger than the other gondola’s cabins, which hold 15 people. Kind of weird


  4. ski man November 18, 2021 / 5:36 pm

    here is an old photo of this gondola

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ski man November 20, 2021 / 8:17 pm

    here is a video


  6. ryand1407 December 14, 2022 / 12:11 pm

    This lift is both older than it appears and is on Mammoth’s short list for replacement, before more seemingly obviously needed projects like chair 2 or something new between 12,13,14.

    Its hours are insane. Most years it opens to midway on day 1 of the ski season to the end. At Mammoth that can often mean mid nov- mid June, or even a few weeks later. And as soon as the snow melts…. It’s the main bike park lift. It operates during the brief shoulder seasons for weddings and special events like high alpine running races. All of this on a late 80’s design monocable.

    There are typically about 4 weeks in the fall where it truly shuts down for extensive maintenance… But still. Despite Alterra’s efforts, lifts age. Chair 1 is not doing well, it can’t run above 800ish fpm on busy days and often has to take breaks.

    The mountain has publicly announced a wish to move the base in front of the new Main Lodge… Maybe this will be a good chance to see a new 10 person.

    Lord knows it would be awesome to see a 3s. Mammoth sometimes has the crowds and often times has the wind to make it viable.


    • ryand1407 December 14, 2022 / 12:13 pm

      Oops said late 80’s, meant late 90’s. Was thinking about chair 1’s coming HS6 replacement too hard…


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