Pioneer Express – Winter Park, CO

Long lift line view.
Poma Falcon station.
Loading area at the base.
Chain-drive turnaround.
View back towards the bottom.
Riding up.
Upper part of the line.
Line from above.
Arrival side of the drive.
Alpha-Falcon combo station.
Winter Park at one point had two of these – Summit Express and Pioneer. Summit went to Mission Ridge, WA.
Side view of the top station.
Another view of the line.
Lower lift line.
Poma support tower.
Depression tower in the flats.
Alpha drive unit.

64 thoughts on “Pioneer Express – Winter Park, CO

  1. AM May 23, 2018 / 10:41 pm

    On the top station drive unit, it looks like they attached a fixed grip drive and put it behind a detachable station and combined it.


      • Duncan October 22, 2018 / 12:01 pm

        I had no idea doppelmayr did it too. I always figured it went straight from Quicksilver-like chairs to CLD-260. What was that terminal model called? In fact what was that fixed-grip model called? I know it was common but I can’t quite put my finger on it.


        • atc1701 February 26, 2019 / 5:46 pm

          Both the fixed grip and detachable Doppelmayr models were commonly built in Eastern North America in the early and mid-80s. The detachable terminal doesn’t have a name (the CLD-260 was technically the first one to receive a name), whereas the fixed drive terminal doesn’t have a name either. Doppelmayr tended not to name their fixed grip designs until recent years.

          Dopplemayr tried varying designs in the East at integrating the drive within the terminal. Strangely, they built lifts (see Mont Sainte-Anne) in the East where the drive and detachable equipment were separate even after Doppelmayr had introduced the CLD-260 in the West, which integrated both. To my knowledge, only two detachable lifts in the East built during that period (Atomic Express and at Sommet Saint-Sauveur and the Tremblant/Soleil Express at Tremblant, both in Quebec) actually integrated the drive and detachable equipment. Their drive terminals slightly resemble the CLD-260 terminals.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Tyler Baroody January 18, 2021 / 12:25 pm

        What happened to that lift when it was replaced with a newer Doppelmayr?


    • Max Hart February 25, 2019 / 3:45 pm

      I don’t see any Competition chairs. All of the carriers on this lift are second-gen Arceaux quad chairs.


      • AvocadoAndy February 25, 2019 / 11:37 pm

        If you look closely at the picture, there’s a snowboarder in a turquoise coat that’s riding a different chair.

        Liked by 5 people

      • Connor May 25, 2019 / 8:57 am

        Chairs number 44 and 75 are competition model chairs. I still wonder why.


        • Donald Reif May 26, 2019 / 10:32 am

          Perhaps the old chairs had some structural problems or something.


        • John August 2, 2019 / 8:45 am

          The originals were rejected during NDT. The replacements depend on what Grand Junction has in stock- I was able to get the Arceaux bails for the old Flyer when I rejected a couple, but I was told that doesn’t happen often.


    • robloxcreeperbyme October 5, 2020 / 7:48 am

      alpauris lift has competition chairs too


  2. Ryan August 1, 2019 / 6:47 pm

    Unless she’s had a major overhaul recently, she’s overdue for replacement.


    • Aidan September 29, 2020 / 3:01 pm

      This will be the next replaced lift after sunnyside and possibly after the looking glass replacment.


    • Aidan Reilly January 5, 2021 / 8:24 am

      They will never do Night skiing. Lariat most likely wont be replaces as a bike trail goes through it. In the summer the gondola cabins never come off the line. They even leave them on in mud season. The snow making system is already on most of those trails even though there is a 5 year snow making upgrade plan in effect on year three next year. I would rather see pioneer be replaced with a 6 pack and not have a mid station. They won’t do a parking barn at every lift. Most lifts will have a Leitner Direct Drive as that is the new model.


    • Myles Svec January 4, 2021 / 3:13 pm

      I just saw a video of the lift getting deroped


      • Aidan Reilly January 5, 2021 / 8:19 am

        Do you have a link to the video?


      • pbropetech January 5, 2021 / 8:37 am

        Deroped? The incident report states it was a component failure. Are you referring to the passengers being belayed out of their chairs?


        • Myles Svec January 5, 2021 / 9:25 am

          Yes I am referring to that.


        • pbropetech January 5, 2021 / 9:35 am

          Copy. To us mechanics, a deropement is when the haul rope comes off the sheaves on a tower (what many people call a ‘derailment’). Just wanted to clarify.


    • Myles Svec January 4, 2021 / 3:54 pm

      Also the people who were on it only got 5$ vouchers. You can’t even buy a Diet Coke there for that price. Other times people have gotten 5 day passes.


      • Phoenix January 4, 2021 / 7:30 pm

        They offer people a free day pass, but people to email the resort. Winter Park certainly isn’t making it very clear they’re giving day passes to those with a voucher; they clearly want people to spend $5 so they don’t have to do the right thing and actually offer compensation. WP management’s response certainly isn’t reflecting on them in a good way.


      • skitheeast January 5, 2021 / 10:31 am

        Ikon passholders got $5 vouchers for F&B. Non-Ikon passholders got ticket vouchers. The reasoning was that it is redundant to offer someone with a season pass a voucher for a day ticket this season. I probably would have given a lot more than $5, but I do understand the reasoning for not giving ticket vouchers.


    • William January 9, 2021 / 6:11 am

      When do they plan to replace this lift? It seems to be getting very old and just broke down


      • Myles Svec March 5, 2021 / 7:35 pm

        In the new lift upgrades they just announced they want to upgrade Pioneer to a Leitner Poma 6 pack. 2022 is when it will likely be built.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. sbondsbond99 January 16, 2021 / 3:45 pm

    Does anyone know why they put the base of the lift so far down on the flats? It seems absurdly far down on the flats. Thanks all.


  4. Tyler Baroody January 18, 2021 / 12:19 pm

    How many of these are left?


    • pbropetech January 18, 2021 / 1:04 pm

      As in, this type of lift?


    • Donald Reif January 18, 2021 / 1:06 pm

      As far as this vintage goes, there are only two of these still operating in Colorado: this and Coney Glade. (The Summit Express, Falcon SuperChair, Colorado SuperChair, American Flyer, and Fanny Hill have all been replaced with high speed six packs)


      • Jackson Hole January 19, 2021 / 4:16 pm

        When do they plan to replace this lift? It is getting ancient!


        • Heopole2 January 21, 2021 / 3:50 pm

          Yes when will they


        • Aidan Reilly January 26, 2021 / 10:36 am

          It will be replaced in the coming years either before or after the looking glass replacement. I hope they replace this with a high speed six with no mid-station


        • Trail Master January 26, 2021 / 11:12 am

          It will most likely either after Alterra gets their money back from Losses or after Covid-19.


        • Donald Reif January 26, 2021 / 11:24 am

          No one knows for sure. The only people who likely know more are people in Winter Park management who have access to that information and legally can’t say anything.

          It’s likely a higher priority than Looking Glass, because when Looking Glass goes down, you can still reach its terrain from the Prospector Express. But when Pioneer breaks down, an entire section of the mountain is crippled as it is the only lift in Vasquez Ridge.


        • Trail Master January 26, 2021 / 2:29 pm

          I emailed Winter Park and Matt Anderson responded saying: “No specific plans for replacement or new lifts at this current time, but priority is typically given to lifts that are older that don’t have other lifts servicing the same area.” This is directly talking about Pioneer but also Olympia and Ealge Wind.


        • skitheeast January 26, 2021 / 2:56 pm

          Matt Anderson is the guest services manager. He would only say something in an email if some sort of public announcement had already been made. Unless someone has inside information on either Winter Park or Alterra, the first time the public will know will be when Winter Park or Alterra distribute a press release.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Lily April 6, 2021 / 7:32 pm

      This and Coney Glade at Snowmass for Colorado, and the Zephyr at Hunter in New York (which was rebuilt and relocated in 2011). Other than these 3, I don’t know if there are any more operating.


  5. William March 23, 2021 / 12:14 pm

    6PACK FOR 2022 Season!! Leitner Poma


    • Axewolfe17 April 10, 2022 / 9:27 pm

      Looking like 2023 at this point.


  6. Dan September 18, 2021 / 6:06 pm

    Please keep the chairs for future use.


    • pbropetech December 26, 2021 / 4:53 pm

      Only if they can find parts. The second-generation Arceaux carriers were built in France with metric-dimensioned components; after a few years the design was tweaked to incorporate SAE materials and the originals are increasingly hard to source. I know you can get them but GJ has to go through Grenoble and it takes a while. The second-and-a-half generation parts are much easier (think Oly and Prospector). I had to modify some parts I got late in the Flyer’s life because they were intended for the last model and they were all I could get.


      • Joe Blake December 5, 2022 / 4:52 pm

        Why doesn’t everyone just use science numbers instead of imaginary numbers? Any time somebody asks me for a part in inches and fractions I just stare blankly and tell them I don’t measure with some unknown dude’s foot.


  7. Donald Reif December 28, 2021 / 6:50 am

    The return station underwent some minor cosmetic alterations after these photos were taken.


  8. Brody January 27, 2022 / 8:59 pm

    If anyone wants to know, the part that broke is below. It popped out and when it did that, it broke the entire thing, leading to the evac of the lift. So when that broke, when the chairs on the line were moving, the chairs in the return (bottom) were not moving. In basic words, thing that connect bull wheel to wheels/chains broke causing lift to run but chairs in bottom station were not moving. Picture below is not mine, full credits go to Axewolfe17 on my discord server.


    • Ryan January 27, 2022 / 9:29 pm

      That is called a thingie majigger.

      Liked by 1 person

    • pbropetech January 27, 2022 / 9:46 pm

      Don’t take this the wrong way, but this sounds like a breakdown reported by a new lift operator. ‘The thing broke/stopped working/I don’t know what it is but it doesn’t look right/HELP!’

      In all seriousness the drive shaft that connects the bullwheel-driven gearbox to the rest of the conveyor system sheared. Sorta hard to move carriers through the terminal without it, as Brody says. Lift moves but chairs don’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Munier Salem January 28, 2022 / 7:12 am

        Wow, so the chains and tires in the return terminal are powered by the bull wheel, via a contraption that looks vaguely like the axles/underside of an automobile. The bull wheel in turn is powered by the haul rope, which is driven by a bull wheel/motor over a mile away up a mountain. Kinda crazy to think about.

        I understand how this keeps everything in sync … but I’m curious if modern detachables also rely on physical/mechanical connections like these. or if things are kept in sync with electronics instead. I’m particularly curious about direct drive terminals, where one of the selling points is way fewer moving parts / gears / less noise.


        • pbropetech January 28, 2022 / 10:34 am

          Modern (well, starting only a few years after Pioneer, actually) lifts are still mechanically driven, just via a different method. The conveyor system is powered by belts driven by PTO sheaves that double as deflection sheaves (i.e. they drop the rope away from the grip as it opens). No shafts/gearboxes to deal with. This method was developed independently by all the major manufacturers in the early 90s. Direct drives weren’t a thing then but this method allows things to work regardless.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Chase January 28, 2022 / 1:00 pm

          Direct drive lifts still work the same way. Even the conveyors in drive terminals (with or without direct drive) are driven off PTO sheaves on the haul rope. The idea being regardless of what moves the haul rope (primary, auxiliary, hamster wheel) the acceleration/deceleration tires are always going the right speed and the ratio of line speed and terminal speed is always the same.

          Some lifts with particularly heavy carriers (Ramcharger, Kanc8) use “Torque Support” motors which is a small electric motor that drives the tires in the turnaround to provide additional torque. It uses encoders on the motor and the bullwheel to synchronize speeds as the lift accelerates/decelerates. Some other lifts might use a motor to drive a section of tires for spacing, which can be run slightly faster or slower than the normal terminal speed to correct the spacing between carriers. These are usually isolated from the rest of the tires by either a clutch or set of belts that can be put on during a power failure to keep all tires in the terminal moving.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Michael January 28, 2022 / 1:04 pm

          The motion that PRROPETECH is describing is the conveyor system, that moves the chairs through the terminals after they detach from the rope.👍 The Direct Drive system powers the main-drive bullwheel “over a mile away up a mountain”. Traditional drives utilize an electric motor or Internal combustion prime mover coupled to a gear reducer (gearbox) with the drive bullwheel attached to it’s output shaft. A Direct Drive system does away with the gear reducer (noise, gears, oils, etc.) by using an asynchronous electric motor with the drive bullwheel connected to it’s output shaft.
          Hope this helps.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Axewolfe17 April 19, 2022 / 11:06 pm

    I bet it won’t happen, but it would be cool to see this be replaced by a D-Line. The reason I think this would be cool, is that Winter Park would be one of the only resorts in the USA to have a Leitner Direct Drive and a Doppelmayr Direct Drive. Besides, it would be cool to see some variety amongst the lift fleet.


    • ShangRei Garrett April 20, 2022 / 8:34 am

      As much as I would love to see that happen, it won’t because Winter Park has a pretty homogenous fleet of Pomas, and seems to only receive Leitner-Pomas nowadays. Of course, that could all change, but I would doubt it.


  10. Jason Obssuth February 2, 2023 / 8:05 pm

    I seem to recall that Pioneer Express got super high at tower 16 when I rode it back in the 90’s. I could swear that the tower had three sections. Does anybody know?


  11. Shaggy May 8, 2023 / 8:02 pm

    Approximately how much does each chair weigh?


    • pbropetech May 19, 2023 / 8:53 pm

      450 pounds, if my back recalls correctly ;)

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Joshua Redman May 18, 2023 / 7:18 pm

    That’s it Pioneer is gone. I am very excited for how this will turn out.


    • Aidan Reilly May 20, 2023 / 5:17 pm

      Chairs came off yesterday, haul rope was dropped today. I’ve been told it’s been using the same haul rope since ’86.


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