Sun Up Express #9 – Vail, CO

LPA return terminal.
Side view of the top terminal.
Most of the lift seen from behind.
Side view of the return terminal.
Loading area.
Middle lift line.
Lower lift line.
Lower station area.
Riding up the line.
Unload ramp.
Downhill end of the top terminal.
The final few towers.
Looking down the line towards High Noon.
Another view of the bottom terminal.

14 thoughts on “Sun Up Express #9 – Vail, CO

  1. Donald M. Reif March 24, 2019 / 10:12 am

    I actually consider this style of lifting frame to be very retro because it’s kinda like what many Poma lifts in the 1980s used.

    On a technical level, this lift’s real differences from the High Noon Express are that it has the newer style lifting frame as well as LPA chairs instead of Omega chairs. But it’s not an outlier for having LPA chairs since the Northwoods Express lift has them as well.


  2. Donald Reif November 29, 2020 / 6:46 am

    I think one could say that with this lift’s installation, Vail became a 100% detachable chairlift/gondola experience mountain, save for beginners in the learning areas on Gopher Hill and Little Eagle, anyone accessing the hill from Cascade Village, race traffic on the Golden Peak T-Bar, and anyone headed to the Mongolia Bowl.


  3. Brian Watkins January 6, 2022 / 11:52 pm

    I remember Sun Up bowl before this fake lift 9 (and her predecessor, the fake lift 17) went in. It was a retreat, a peaceful and natural place on the mountain without the crowds and the roar of motors. Yonder and WFO were almost like wilderness, a backcountry skiing experience in bounds with a lift just out of earshot past the bottom.

    Before they started grooming to promote this life, all the open faces on the west side of the bowl were natural feeling places, uncrowded. Not a major freeway of blue skiers headed elsewhere but a real open skiing experience.

    It was nice back then. Too bad what happened.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Donald Reif January 7, 2022 / 6:20 am

      This was a lift upgrade that was long overdue. A lot of Vail’s upgrades in the past decade have not only been about upgrading old chairlifts, but also improving traffic flow at chokepoints. Upgrading High Noon was done to improve the flow of egress from the Sundown and Sun Up Bowls (though not enough as a few powder days have shown in the past) but also made it so advanced skiers returning from Blue Sky Basin would be encouraged to not go to the Northwoods Express. Upgrading Sun Up means those headed towards Blue Sky Basin might consider traveling down the Teacup Bowl trails rather than travel via Sleepytime catwalk or travel to Two Elk Lodge and head down through the China Bowl. And next year’s Sundown Express will relieve crowds at the High Noon Express and Wildwood Express because it will provide one-seat access to most of the Sundown Bowl’s terrain and make it so someone returning from Blue Sky Basin or the eastern Back Bowls at the end of the day will be able to bypass Patrol Headquarters and Mid-Vail entirely if headed back towards Game Creek Bowl, the central Front Side or Lionshead.


    • Somebody January 12, 2022 / 4:34 pm

      Brian, I know what you’re talking about. It feels harder and harder to find inbounds areas with solitude these days. Those quiet days in Sun Up bowl are gone, but they were a product of their time. Vail (and most ski areas) will never be the same. Everywhere feels like it’s twice as crowded as 5 years ago, and I hate that. And I hope it doesn’t continue this way.

      Life moves on, but it is sad.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. afski722 January 12, 2022 / 5:06 pm

    Yep. The Vail I knew growing up in the 90s and early 2000s is dead. Its nothing like it was then. Glad we got to experience it when in the era before the explosion of CO’s population, the pass wars, internet/social media FOMO driven powder mania. You could find all sorts of lines in the back bowls, and even places on the front side that would go untracked for days. Powder days were just that, not the epic CF that it is today. There were sleeper powder days when they would be calling for a pedestrian 2-4 inches, and you would wake-up to 8″+ in the valley and over a foot up on top (and half of Denver wouldn’t show-up). I rarely ski Vail anymore since its just a lot of hassle, lines, and insanity. The new lift in Sun Down Bowl is going to kill whats left of anything good over there.


    • Joseph McMurray April 9, 2022 / 8:55 pm

      Hello Afski722,

      Wish there were more places like the 90s today. Do you have any recommendations for where to go for good untracked stuff and lines like you described? I completely understand if you would like to not share so you could keep your spots secret.

      Regards, Joseph


    • Donald Reif April 10, 2022 / 2:58 am

      “The new lift in Sun Down Bowl is going to kill whats left of anything good over there.” Unfortunately, that’s kind of a necessary evil. There does need to be another lift out there to relieve High Noon and ensure there’s a way out of that area if High Noon goes down.


      • Jorge April 10, 2022 / 9:35 am

        There is still Mongolia Bowl which does not get tracked out as fast.


        • skristiansen April 10, 2022 / 5:57 pm

          I wouldn’t worry too much about it getting tracked out. Sun down bowl already gets pretty tracked out and it won’t make too big a difference now that its a one lift ride to the top. People usually only use it to get to the east back bowls and BSB.


      • Brian from the ‘sip August 20, 2022 / 8:09 am

        What is the status of the Sundown Express Lift? With the chaos at Bergman Bowl and Park City, I don’t even know that it is being constructed?


  5. Muni October 26, 2022 / 10:04 pm

    Fun little gaffe on the Vail 2022 trail map … a note explaining how to get to Two Elk was added back after being absent for a few years. The problem is, the designer did not update the note to change Sun Up from #17 to #9.


    • Andrew October 27, 2022 / 9:22 am

      Technically the note is not completely wrong. The fastest way from the top of 17 is still to go up 14. You just have to hit 4 first. Although come to think of it whiskey jack is a pain to get to from the top of 4.


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