News Roundup: Affirmation

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News Roundup: Washout

  • Teams from Mt. Hood Meadows have repaired and re-opened the Shooting Star Express that was damaged by falling trees over Thanksgiving. Now the storm recovery turns to the Mt. Hood Express, which received ten feet of snow in one week.
  • White Pass has more snow than it did at anytime last winter but no one can get there.  Crews have been working around the clock to repair washouts that cut off the resort from both sides of the Cascades Dec. 9th.  The ski area will re-open Wednesday.

  • The Berry family says it’s close to a deal to sell Saddleback to a new owner that hopes to open by late January.  Passholders can get a refund or gift card now.
  • Aspen’s 1971 SLI double on Shadow Mountain will be replaced with a detachable quad or gondola in 2016 or ’17.  The top terminal will move 200 feet to the southwest resulting in a slope length of 3,600′ with 1,390′ vertical and a capacity of 1,200 skiers per hour.
  • Park City and Canyons are now one thanks to the Quicksilver Gondola but judging by snow conditions it’s going to be awhile before you can ski between the two.
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Sugarloaf and Doppelmayr load test King Pine on Dec. 19, 2015.
  • James Coleman opens new quad chairs at Purgatory (Leitner-Poma) and Arizona Snowbowl (SkyTrac) with more new lifts on the way.
  • Doppelmayr secures $27 million European government loan for research and development in Austria.
  • Cherry Peak Resort opens today!  It’s the first all-new ski facility in North America since Tamarack debuted back in 2004.

Instagram Tuesday: Wheels

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News Roundup: Closings and Openings

News Roundup: Pardatschgratbahn

  • Its been six weeks since the Berry family, owners of Saddleback, Maine, said they would close the resort if they could not find financing to order a new lift by August 1st.  Regardless of the outcome, this has been a PR disaster with a desperate announcement and then silence.  Not a good sign when the general manager refuses to talk to the state’s largest newspaper.  My take: despite the bluff they will find a way to open.
  • Ligonier Construction awarded $4.6 million contract to re-build the State of Pennsylvania’s Laurel Mountain Ski Area.  The project includes a new quad chairlift but I could not find a lift manufacturer identified in the bid documents.  Nearby Seven Springs Mountain Resort will operate the ski area on behalf of the state.
  • Snow Summit proves again that snowmaking systems can save lifts and buildings from wildfires.
  • What if Aspen had a gondola from Ajax to Buttermilk and Snowmass?
  • Not one but four 15-passenger gondolas proposed to link a cruise terminal with George Town in the Caribbean’s Cayman Islands.  I’m thinking even that won’t be enough when Royal Caribbean’s newest ship shows up with 6,000 passengers tired of being on a ship with 6,000 passengers.
  • “No one has contributed more to the task of transporting skiers and snowboarders up the ski mountains of the United States than Jan Leonard,” said the President of the NSAA in the Salt Lake Tribune’s obituary.  Services will be held tomorrow.

The 3S Gondola

A “3S” is a detachable gondola with two track ropes and one haul rope.  It combines the speed and stability of a tram with the capacity of a gondola.  Cabins generally hold about 30 passengers.  3S systems can move up to 4,500 passengers per hour at up to 8.5 meters per second.  They can withstand high winds and traverse long spans between towers.  These highly capable lifts are also expensive.  Only 12 3S gondolas have been built.  Perhaps the most famous of them, Whistler’s Peak 2 Peak, cost $51 million!

3S Gondolas are huge machines.
3S Gondolas are huge machines.

The 3S was developed by VonRoll of Switzerland.  The first one to open was the Alpin Express at Saas-Fee in 1991.  A second section opened in 1994.  When Doppelmayr merged with VonRoll in 1996, they inherited the 3S technology.  Doppelmayr built its first 3S in 2002 at Val d’Isere, France.  Called L’Olympique, it accesses the famous ski area of Escape Killy.

Kitzbuhel, Austria opened the 3S Bahn in 2004.  It connects two ski areas across a valley with an 8,200 foot-long unsupported span.  Four years later, Doppelmayr connected Whistler and Blackcomb with the Peak 2 Peak, featuring an even longer unsupported span of 1.88 miles.  Peak 2 Peak’s highest point above ground is an incredible 1,427 feet.  It remains the only 3S gondola outside of Europe.

Whistler-Blackcomb's Peak 2 Peak Gondola.
Whistler-Blackcomb’s Peak 2 Peak Gondola.

Leitner got into the 3S business in 2009 with a system in northern Italy.  The towns of Renon and Ritten were connected by a 2.8 mile-long 3S.  This was the first 3S built outside of a ski resort.  Another urban 3S was built across the Rhine River in Koblenz, Germany in 2010.  This Doppelmayr system moves 3,800 passengers per hour in each direction.  Also in 2010, Doppelmayr built the Gaislachkogl 2 at Solden, Austria.

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