Sugarloaf, ME Click on a lift’s name for pictures. View in fullscreen↗ Share this:EmailTwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading...
Does anybody have any ideas or guesses about what’s next on the lift replacement/install lineup here? I feel like its time to take down some of these old Borvig’s.
Sugarloaf is done for a while with capital projects. They make no money.
Boyne’s most likely eastern lift projects are Barker at Sunday River due to it’s horrible reliability, and the South Peak beginner area at Loon to address their severe lack of beginner terrain and the entire mountain’s parking issues.
I still think they need to up their capacity soon. It seems the lift lines get just a bit bigger every year and SuperQuad is taking 90% of everyone on the mountain up.
If you look at any lift project, you can divide the motive behind all of them into two categories. Was the project done because the resort wanted something new, or because they NEEDED something new?
All of the Big Sky 2025 projects are in the “wanted” category except Challenger (more on that later) which wasn’t on the original plan but probably should’ve been. Boyne wanted to upgrade these lifts because it will improve customer experience which they think will increase skier visits and spending per guest.
Challenger at Big Sky, Spruce Peak at Sunday River, Skyline at Sugarloaf, and Chair 6 at Crystal are in the “NEEDED” category. Boyne had no choice but to take on these projects because the previous lifts either had serious mechanical issues, safety concerns, were destroyed in accidents, or a combination of these factors.
Of the potential lift projects at all 3 New England resorts, only Barker at SR falls into the “NEEDED” category and is the only one that I think has any chance of happening before Big Sky 2025 is done. Boyne also has a ton of debt that is from buying the resorts back from Oz and some of the investments at Big Sky.
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Didn’t Sugarloaf have a 2020 plan at one point? I believe it had numerous lift updates including plans to replace the Double Runner chairs. They launched a website about it: sugarloaf2020.com but it doesn’t seem it has been updated since 2015. I think the rollback of the King Pine lift push their plans back or destroyed them?
They did, but they’ve pretty much backed out of it in favor of the Big Sky 2025 plan. That plan has been changed many times over. Originally it included upgrading Ramcharger, Swift Current, and Thunderwolf to bubble 6’s, a multi-stage gondola to replace Explorer and the Lone Peak Triple, upgrading Shedhorn and Iron Horse to detachables, adding another detachable in Moonlight Basin, adding bubbles to 6 Shooter, and replacing Headwaters with something on a longer alignment. There’s a ton of stuff here and I doubt it will all be completed.
Since then they’ve changed Ramcharger to an 8, added a Challenger replacement, and ditched extending the gondola into the bowl in favor of the Powder Seeker lift.
The Sugarloaf plan included Spillway (already completed), Double Runner, and King Pine. Later they added replacing the SuperQuad with a 6 pack and relocating to Timberline and adding a T bar in Bracket Basin. The SuperQuad upgrade and relocation was mentioned in one of Peter’s news roundups and was supposed to be a 2019 project. Would it be a good upgrade? Yes. Is Barker at Sunday River more important? Also yes.
Sugarloaf is adding and replacing many lifts over the next few years.
First, a 450 acre West Mountain expansion with a detachable chair, new trails, snowmaking and residential development.
Next, the Superquad will be replaced with a six or eight pack detachable.
Then, Timberline will be replaced and extended to Bullwinkle’s. The summit gondola station will be rehabilitated.
Lastly, Doublerunner will be replaced, King Pine will be lengthened and upgraded and a racing T bar will be added to service Narrow Gauge and Comp Hill.
King Pine lengthened/upgraded? Uphill or downhill extension, and what kind of new lift?
I thought of a new summit option, where in addition to Timberline, a new High Speed Quad would be put in on the backside (the red line). This lift would not only allow for a single lift option to the summit from the top of king pine (blue line), but would also add a ton of new bowl terrain. It would have about 2,000 feet of vertical drop and would be 7,500 feet long. It would also be sheltered by trees for its entire length.
The only issue that I see with this plan is that I’m not currently aware who owns this land, however seeing as it is undeveloped, I wouldn’t be surprised if the owner was willing to lease/sell it. If this lift were installed though, it would change Sugarloaf massively and make it a strong contender for the best mountain in the East.
First of all… the Loaf already is a strong contender for the best mountain in the east. Second, that’s all south facing terrain. And third, the Loaf’s prevailng winds are pretty much perpendicular to that lift line, and there wouldn’t be much protection for that line on a ridge like that.
If the Loaf were to expand at all now, it would probably in the region around the Timberline Quad, west of west mountain, or in the area surrounding the Survey line.
Here’s a video from 1970 of a ride up the Gondola https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2uNGIISdHU
I just listen to “The Storm Skiing” podcast Part 2 with the President of Sugarloaf. He mentioned now that the new West Mountain expansion lift will not happen until the summer of 2022. With Boyne and Sugarloaf not commenting on this lift, just saying “it will be high speed” I am willing to bet that this new West Mountain Expansion lift will be the old Swift Current lift from Big Sky. They just don’t want to say that until the new Swift Current lift is built. It makes sense for the delay. Will spend sometime re-doing this lift before shipping it across the country. It looks like both Boyne new lifts in the East in 2022 will be reused lifts (Swift current for West Mountain at Sugarloaf) and (Kancamagus for Seven Brothers at Loon). Just my opinion but from what I am hearing I would think that’s what’s happening.
That is probably not a bad bet. There is really nowhere for it to go at Big Sky, elsewhere out west, or the Midwest, so it is likely coming east. Loon’s short term lifts are Kanc 8 (new), Seven Brothers (old Kanc quad), and Lincoln (likely to a 6), so that is out. Sunday River’s near term lift projects are Barker (likely a 6 or 8), Merrill Hill (probably a fixed-grip), and Jordan Bowl (likely a 6). That leaves Sugarloaf, where the near term lift projects are West Mountain (high-speed quad), Timberline (high-speed quad), and Double Runner (unknown). Honestly, Swift would be a good candidate for any of these projects, but with West Mountain being right after the removal of Swift from Big Sky, it is likely the frontrunner.
As of right now I am not sure when Barker is going to be replaced. I don’t think Boyne will go to 3 new lifts in the east in 2022. I would say 2023 by the earliest.
I just wished Boyne invested more into Sugarloaf since it’s already the best mountain in the East. It just needs New lifts badly. We really haven’t had a new lift put in since 1997 with Whiffletree. Yes Skyline was put in 2011 to replace Spillway but that’s only because the lift feel off the towers and the state said the lift was unsafe and couldn’t be fixed. If we didn’t have this accident, I highly doubt we would have gotten a new lift.
As of right now the I heard the rough number on the engineering on the West Mountain Project is that the lift will be 7,800 feet long. Swift Current is currently 8,418 feet. I say rough numbers because they could move the bottom terminal down a little more towards the intersection of West Mountain Road and the Access Road since they are trying to build additional parking lots and condo units. They could also expand a few hundred feet at the top next to Bullwinkle’s. Lets face it where the current West Mountain lift ends is a terrible placement, its a hike to Bullwinkle’s or any of the good trails with snowmaking on them. By bringing the terminal a little closer to the restaurant they could get this lift exactly 8,418 feet.
Sugarloaf has said many of times they want 5 new lifts by 2030,
* West Mountain Expansion 2022.
* Timberline High Speed Quad (2024)
* Superquad going to a D-Line 6 pack (2026) which they announced was the plan at the town of Carrabassett meeting last year.
* Double Running East and West (Fix grip quad 2028) Really should be high speed but they won’t spent the money.
* King Pine, new fixed grip quad (this should be high speed as well but they won’t spend the money unless they get a used lift from Loon or Big Sky) With the terminal of this new lift 1000 feet further down the hill so its easier to get back and forth from the Cat skiing operation.
This is my opinion and hopes from what I am hearing but then again I have been drinking the Sugarloaf Kool Aid for 30 years, we can barely replace our grooming fleet.
I don’t count the new T Bar that will be put in because Sugarloaf isn’t paying for that, CVA and the town will be.
Also in regards to the person comment above, who was asking about why not put a high speed quad up Gondi line. The only way to the top with a chairlift is timberline due to the wind and lack of trees for cover. The only way to put a lift up Gondi line again would be a tram or a large 3S Gondi. (Maybe an 8 pack since they said 8 packs can handle 60 MPH winds) but that type of money won’t be spent at Sugarloaf. Not worth spending that much money on one lift. If I remember right the Gondi final season it only ran 21 days because it couldn’t handle the wind.
Sugarloaf is a fantastic mountain, one of the best in the region, but it is simply too far from the major northeast population centers to ever experience the same amount of success as other mountains. That does not mean that a certain level of investment is not needed, and Boyne does seem committed to the mountain with the 2030 plan, so I think Sugarloaf will emerge just fine.
As for the Boyne northeast timeline: Barker may very well be replaced this upcoming summer in 2021 alongside the already announced Kanc 8. Three lifts would be a lot for 2022, but remember that Merrill Hill is a fixed-grip real estate lift, Seven Brothers is reusing the Kanc quad, and West Mountain may even be reusing Swift from Big Sky, so costs would not be too high. Separately, I thought the Double Runner replacement was going to happen before the Superquad replacement? Perhaps the timelines changed with COVID delaying certain projects, but I know that was the original plan.
I was watching WSKI TV and SuperQuad is being replaced with a six pack heated seat and maybe a bubble. The new west mountain lift is a high speed six according to their website (sugarloaf2030.com) and they have been talking about extended Timberline down to Bulwinckles and making it high speed. Looks like Bullwinckles will be a new hub with 3 lifts going to be based at it.
Any thoughts on this?
Bullwinckles will only have two lift. New West Mountain Lift will end there and the new Timberline lift will start. The current west mountain list will stop at the current mid-station. It wont continue past its current mid-station to bullwinkcles
They have been talking about the D Line 6 pack for the Superquad replacement for a few years. Karl and the President of Boyne have both said that won’t happen until Timberline and West Mountain are replaced, so that will be a few more years. I think they are going to run into trouble with double runner and have to replace that prior also.
I would love the new west mountain lift to be a high speed 6 but I am convinced we are getting the old swift current lift from Big Sky and it will be a high speed quad. I just don’t see Sugarloaf investing that much money into two brand new high speed 6 packs when they have 3 new lodges (summit, King Pine, and Bullwinckles) to build and 5 new lifts over the next 10 years. When they have a perfectly good lift at big sky, that lift is 100% coming east.
I was watching an interview with Karl and he said that SuperQuad is most likely going to become an 8 pack, on the website the new West Mountain is a 6 and I think Timberline is where they will use Swift Current. They also said King Pine will be extended by about a thousand feet down to the Cat Skiing Log Yard. I just hope they improve Sugarloaf a little bit.
What/where is the t-bar going in? I haven’t heard about that before.
The new map shows where west bowl is going in
Here is the new map
Click to access 1606442721.pdf
The Sugarloaf website has an updated version that shows the alignments of the future lifts and trails, as well as the real-estate development areas: https://www.sugarloaf2030.com/west-mountain-expansion
I don’t know if the Timberline replacement is still on the table (it’s not on the map), but if so, I’d expect the new lift would go down to that oxbow-shaped new trail that’ll be skier’s left of the current West Mtn trail. That about fits with where the new bottom terminal would go if it was just an extension of the current lift line. Building straight from Bullwinkle’s would require a new and very-exposed lift line to be cut.
Timberline isn’t on the map because it is above the top of what’s shown. A replacement is in the long term plan but as the LAST lift to be replaced, after SuperQuad and Double Runners – and even King Pine whose replacement was dropped from the timeline. The new West Mtn lift (old one from Big Sky) is going to be the primary way to get up to Bullwinkles. The West Mountain lift will be shortened and lose what’s above the present mid-station.
Interesting seeing the T-bar listed as a 2022 lift but nothing from the mountain yet. Wonder if this is from a source at the Manufacturer.
Sugarloaf announced it in April. https://www.sugarloaf.com/press-releases/summer-capital-2022
I walked up there this week and there was no construction yet or even survey stakes.
Summer install and the new T-bar is now running and called “CVA/Colby” apparently after who paid for most of it.
In the notes for the spreadsheet, Spillway East, you could add, “Accident in 2010 closed the lift for good”
Boyne is clearly committed to installing a flagship 8 pack at all of their resorts. While this alignment may seem bizarre at first, hear me out on this.
An 8 pack could be installed on the current alignment of Double Runner East & West, Skyline, and Bateau. This would bring the main out of base lift at the Loaf to a more central location compared to the current Super Quad and Wiffletree lifts. This new lift could have a mid-station unload at the top of Double Runner East for beginners to access the green trails on the lower part of the mountain. The lift would then continue and have its top terminal located where the tops of Bateau and Skyline are. This would provide better access to all of Sugarloaf’s terrain than either of the current HSQ’s
The installation of this lift would also reduce the stress on Super Quad and eliminate the need for a short term replacement of that lift. Even a 3200 pph 8 pack like Jordan 8 at Sunday River would be a huge boost over the current combined capacity of 2400 for the current Double Runner chairs, not to mention a far more enjoyable ride experience. The setup of an 8 pack flanked by two HSQ’s would serve the heart of Sugarloaf’s terrain far better than the current lift setup.
Sugarloaf’s operation would be drastically streamlined by only operating one lift on this alignment compared to the current four lift setup. They would only have to pay people to maintain and operate one lift instead of two.
Additionally, the installation of this 8 pack would mean removing the Skyline quad chair which is still very new (Doppelmayr Tristar installed in 2011). This lift could then be used to replace the Timberline quad which is likely the next project planned for the Loaf anyways after Bucksaw Express. This would mean removing another of Sugarloaf’s old Bvorig’s.
Honestly, there is no better bang for the buck investment possible for Sugarloaf. With the purchase of only one new lift, Boyne could:
•Give Sugarloaf a Flagship D-Line 8 pack
•Drastically improving out of base capacity therefore eliminating the short-run need for a Super Quad replacement
•Retire the ancient Bvorig Double Runner chairs which will need to be done regardless
•Streamline operations by combining four lifts into one new one
•Free up the Skyline lift to be relocated to replace Timberline which will need to happen anyway to replace another old Bvorig.
To me this just seems so sensible. I hope someone from Boyne/Sugarloaf is monitoring this chat.
They would only have to pay people to maintain and operate one lift instead of FOUR (not two)
I’ve also thought about the idea of a flagship lift along the Double Runner/Skyline/Bateau alignment, and while your eight-pack idea would do a good job at streamlining, there are some drawbacks and complications to consider:
– Less redundancy in the lift system: if the eight-pack breaks down, it will be significantly more difficult to access the large area of terrain it serves as there would be no lifts in close proximity to it
– No way to access the upper mountain on days where high wind closes all upper mountain lifts except the wind-protected Bateau
– No way for expert skiers to lap the steep trails served by Skyline and Bateau without skiing all the way to the base, unless a mid-load was added to the hypothetical eight-pack leading to additional cost and complexity
– Long lines at the eight-pack due to both beginner and expert skiers using it to access the lower and upper mountain respectively
– It would be very difficult to fit a large D-Line terminal in the exposed and space-constrained area where Skyline and Bateau unload, certainly not a partially-enclosed one like the Jordan 8 has. In addition the current wind fences (already quite large) would have to be made taller as D-Line lifts are generally quite big and tall (compare Kanc 8 to the previous Kancamagus Express).
What I think Sugarloaf/Boyne should do is replace Superquad with a six-pack (possibly D-Line) then relocate it to Timberline. As for the Double Runners, I’d replace them with a fixed-grip quad with a loading carpet (possibly a reinstall of Timberline with a new loading carpet) on Double Runner West’s alignment with a midstation in the same location as the current one. This ensures that on windy days when no upper mountain chairlifts can run, there is still a way to access Bateau.
I thought about the wind which is why I figured a D-Line 8 pack would be a good option considering how Sunday River brags about Jordan 8’s ability to run in the wind.
You bring up a good point about advanced skiers needing a way to lap the steeper trails towards the top of this lift without having to go back to the base each run. What if the 8 pack were to only replace skyline and the double runner chairs, and leave Bateau running parallel to it for the top stretch.
As far as space constraints at the top, if Boyne really wanted to do this project, I’d pretty much guarantee that the engineers at doppelmayr would find a way to fit a D line terminal up there.
No offense, but bad idea. Sugarloaf is very vulnerable to wind, even by northern New England standards. Having multiple lifts here, including ones very wind resistant like the T-bar, is very important to maintain operational flexibility.
Additionally, you’re taking away the ability of experts to lap Spillway. Having expert skiers mix by necessity with the beginner trails to get all the way to the base would make nobody happy.
The SuperQuad alignment is better suited for intermediates, and if anything an 8-pack there would work just fine.