- LST Ropeways’ prototype detachable chairlift in France is once again open.
- Despite a wild winter in Colorado, the shiny new Glenwood Gondola is tracking towards a March 16th launch.
- Mt. Spokane’s first new lift in four-plus decades has been spinning since December but the mountain’s nonprofit operator is still seeking donations to help pay for it.
- Epic Passes go on sale and a new Epic Day Pass offers Vail Resorts skiers the option to pre-buy a flexible number of days at a big discount.
- The Mountain Collective Pass is back for 2019-20 and, as expected, no longer includes Sun Valley or Snowbasin.
- Following the collective model, an Indy Pass is brewing with eleven regional resorts already signed on.
- Court documents suggest the Hermitage Club may file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
- The highly anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Walt Disney World Resort August 29th, which would be a great date for the Skyliner to start carrying guests to it.
- Aspen voters approve the Lift 1 corridor project by 26 votes, but it may be a few years before a Telemix joins the Ajax lift fleet.
- Two years after a fatal ride accident blamed on corrosion, the Ohio State Fair is spending $116,000 to replace all the carriers on a different attraction – its chairlift.
- Doppelmayr is looking for workers to help build lifts across the country this summer.
- Vail Resorts season-to-date lift revenue is up 9.6 percent from a year ago, with skier visits increasing 7.9 percent.
- Attitash won’t open Summit this weekend but not for lack of trying.
- In California, the City of Long Beach is in the very early stages of considering a multistop gondola.
- For the first time in years, Black Mountain is opening its 1935 vintage J-Bar this weekend.
Utah ski resorts are proving this season that lifts need not be giant to positively impact guest experiences. I got to visit the state’s three newest chairlifts this week, which are all short but sweet with beginner skiers in mind.
High Meadow Express – Park City Mountain
The High Meadow Express is the centerpiece of re-imagined teaching terrain above Park City’s Canyons Village. With mellow loading and unloading speeds, a quick ride time and an improved alignment, the high speed quad marks a significant step up from the fixed quad it replaces. High Meadow Park is now wide open with perfectly pitched beginner trails. Expanded snowmaking rounds out the freshened up beginner zone.
Homestake Express – Deer Valley Resort
Homestake Express launched this morning at Alterra-owned Deer Valley, becoming the resort’s 13th detachable quad. Ride time is now under two minutes between Silver Lake Lodge and Bald Eagle Mountain. There are only eight towers now, down from 12, freeing up space on the busy Silver Link ski run. The new Homestake also features slatted backrests for wind resistance.
Snowpine – Alta Ski Area
In Little Cottonwood Canyon, the new Snowpine Quad carried its first skiers yesterday. The Skytrac Monarch was manufactured just 30 miles away in Salt Lake. While it only has two towers and a dozen chairs, the new lift serves dual functions. It will provide ski-in, ski-out access to the new Snowpine Lodge, which opens January 30th. Alta’s first fixed grip quad also provides a beginner-friendly alternative to the surface tow it replaces. The return terminal is height adjustable for the big snow years.
- The world’s largest vertical tramway is expected to reopen in time for Christmas, just three months after one of its cabins was destroyed in an unfortunate accident.
- Peak Resorts completes its acquisition of Liberty Mountain, Roundtop and Whitetail in Pennsylvania.
- There was a bit of a setback before American Eagle’s load test on Monday but repairs are complete and the first of two new lifts at Copper opens Saturday.
- A pulse gondola could join the skyline in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.
- Investors who helped the Hermitage Club buy its bubble lift file a lawsuit seeking $9.8 million.
- Did you know the Lone Peak Tram‘s bottom terminal is slowly moving downhill thanks to a rock glacier?
- The White River National Forest grants final approval for Beaver Creek’s McCoy Park expansion and preliminary approval of Aspen Mountain’s Pandora project.
- Plans for a new Oakland Athletics ballpark include a 6,000 passenger per hour gondola across Interstate 880.
- A proposed Portland Major League Baseball stadium also has a gondola component.
- As Utah weighs growth, Alta seeks to retain some of the land it owns in Grizzly Gulch, key to any future connection between the Cottonwood Canyons.
- Heavy snow delays completion of Ascutney Mountain’s T-Bar until next spring.
- Arapahoe Basin drops the ropes on 339 new lift-served acres.
- The Adirondack Park Agency approves construction of a new chairlift at the Lake Placid Olympic ski jumping facility.
- Ascutney seeks permission to build a 1,760′ T-Bar with 11 towers.
- As Oz Real Estate weighs investing more than $50 million, the Hermitage Club receiver reports the resort’s lifts need $86,000 in maintenance that neither the bank nor members have agreed to fund.
- Mountain Capital Partners hosts a packed public meeting regarding its Nordic Valley expansion. “I’ve never had a project not be successful and I’m not going to start with this one,” James Coleman tells the crowd.
- Days before the deadline for public comments, Sunshine Village CEO Ralph Scurfield pens an op-ed criticizing Parks Canada’s proposed site guidelines that would eliminate three future lifts from consideration.
- Leitner-Poma looks to immediately hire installation team members for the big Winter Park gondola project.
- Thanks to Rob and Max for these awesome shots of the Whistler Blackcomb megaproject.
- Some Alta land is withdrawn from a proposed land swap, maintaining the possibility of future expansion in Grizzly Gulch.
- Killington goes blue with its bubbles.
- Vail Resorts officially takes over Stevens Pass.
- Massachusetts awards the current operators of Blue Hills a new three year contract.
- Fatzer begins production of the first Compacta rope for the US lift market. At 54 mm, any guesses where it’s headed?
- The Jackson/Teton County Parks & Recreation Board unanimously says no to a Snow King Gondola alignment as the Forest Service extends public comment until September 13th.
- The Capital Gondola project moves along in Albany.
- Anyone can rent the six lifts at Pico Mountain for $6,500 on Tuesdays or Wednesdays this winter.
- The Jay Peak receiver plans to sell the resort by next summer while an offering of Burke Mountain is indefinitely on hold.
- Copper Mountain appears to abandon dark green lifts for more sophisticated copper-colored terminals.
Utah ski resorts will debut three new chairlifts for the 2018-19 season and although none of them service new terrain, each will make lives better for skiers and snowboarders. One of my stops this weekend was Park City Mountain, where Vail Resorts announced the creation of a reimagined High Meadow Family Fun Zone back in December. A new Doppelmayr detachable quad, opened up runs, upgraded snowmaking and candy cabin are coming together above the Red Pine Gondola. The new lift will have 8 towers, down from 11 on the old CTEC quad, which is sitting under the Cabriolet for now.
Across old town Park City at Deer Valley, another Doppelmayr detachable quad is replacing another CTEC fixed-grip quad. Highlander Lift Services & Construction is assembling Homestake Express in the existing alignment but again with fewer towers. I think the new number is eight, down from a dozen in this high traffic area above Silver Lake Lodge. For its second winter under Alterra, Deer Valley will operate an impressive 13 high speed quads this season. The 1999 version of Homestake is bound for Utah Olympic Park.
- Mt. Sunapee plans to install the former Sunbowl quad in place of the North Peak triple and move that lift to the other side of North Peak as early as 2019.
- There are now four Snow King Mountain master plan alternatives; all include a base-to-summit gondola and three have a new backside chairlift.
- The first fly day of 2018 title goes to SilverStar, Doppelmayr and Vancouver Island Helicopters.
- A top ramp incident at Wachusett Mountain apparently leads to a $72,000 verdict.
- The approved Mt. Baldy tram at Alta remains contentious and may never happen.
- In hot and dry Arizona, officials close large swaths of National Forest including all outdoor summer activities at Arizona Snowbowl until further notice.
- The asking price for Blacktail Mountain is $3.5 million.
- As BMF builds its first detachable lift in Iran, the Swiss company says it has no interest in the U.S. market.
- OSHA proposes $64,673 in fines for 15 violations identified during the investigation into Loveland lift mechanic Adam Lee’s death.
- West Mountain needs a Poma return terminal and eight quad gauge towers in order to complete its third new lift of the decade.
- When Alta’s reimagined Snowpine Lodge opens in January, you will be able to get there on a dedicated Skytrac chairlift.
- The Staten Island Economic Development Corporation secures $212,000 to study the feasibility of a gondola connection to Bayonne, New Jersey.
- The Forest Service green lights Alta’s big plans for a new Baldy tram, Flora lift, Wildcat detachable and replacement for Sunnyside.
- The Colony’s master plan now includes two new lifts along Pinecone Ridge at the center of Park City Mountain.
- Copper is selling parts from the Flyer and the Eagle detachables. Must act fast!
- Crested Butte says the three lift Teo 2 expansion, if approved, would likely be built over approximately five years.
- Snow King’s gondola and terrain expansion public process moves along at a glacial pace.
- Mountain Capital Partners, the company behind Arizona Snowbowl, Hesperus Pajarito, Purgatory and Sipapu, will operate Nordic Valley and add it to the Power Pass.
- Doppelmayr breaks ground for its eleventh cable-propelled automated people mover, set to open in 2021.
- Spokane’s paper traces the history of three lifts that have graced Riverfront Park, including a new gondola.
- The Forest Service seeks feedback on Arizona Snowbowl’s chondola proposal.
- An ice storm apparently causes a track rope to jump out of a saddle at Jay Peak, closing the tram and nearby lifts indefinitely.
- As legal wrangling continues, nothing seems out of the ordinary this week at the Hermitage Club except for notices on the clubhouse doors.
Alterra Mountain Company dropped a bomb at the Outdoor Retailer/SIA show this morning, announcing the forthcoming Ikon Pass will bring together its dozen North American resorts along with eleven other major mountains. Aspen Skiing Company, Boyne Resorts, Powdr Co. and more have partnered with Alterra to add destinations such as Aspen Snowmass, Alta, Snowbird, Big Sky, Killington and Jackson Hole. “The Ikon Pass is a collaboration of like-minded mountain destinations across North America where incredible terrain, unique character and local traditions are celebrated,” said Erik Forsell, Chief Marketing Officer for Alterra Mountain Company. “We’ve curated a community of iconic destinations. We believe this new pass offers tremendous opportunity and appeal to mountain enthusiasts who have a passion for outdoor adventure.”
Pass options will range from a set number of days at varying destinations to an ultimate, unlimited season pass. I can’t stress enough how much this changes big mountain skiing in North America. For years now, Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass has been the largest and most successful season pass product in the world, now offering access to 272 lifts and 44,000 acres at 15 mountains in North America and Australia to some 750,000 passholders. Ikon will one-up Vail’s terrain offering with access to 23 top-tier North American resorts, a ridiculous 363 lifts and 48,840 acres (for both passes, I am counting gondolas, chairlifts and surface lifts with towers. If carpets and rope tows are included, the Epic Pass offers 340 lifts while Ikon has 434.)
Ikon Pass resorts for 2018-19 will be:
- Alta, Utah
- Alpine Meadows, California
- Aspen Highlands, Colorado
- Aspen Mountain, Colorado
- Bear Mountain, California
- Blue Mountain, Ontario
- Big Sky, Montana
- Buttermilk, Colorado
- Copper Mountain, Colorado
- Deer Valley, Utah
- Eldora, Colorado
- Jackson Hole, Wyoming
- June Mountain, California
- Killington, Vermont
- Loon Mountain, New Hampshire
- Mammoth Mountain, California
- Snowbird, Utah
- Snowmass, Colorado
- Snowshoe, West Virginia
- Snow Summit, California
- Squaw Valley, California
- Steamboat, Colorado
- Stratton, Vermont
- Sugarloaf, Maine
- Sunday River, Maine
- Tremblant, Quebec
- Winter Park, Colorado
Ikon passholders will also receive discounts and special offers at CMH heli-skiing in British Columbia. Epic holders already enjoy limited access to 30 European resorts. The Liftopia-powered Mountain Collective Pass, which allows destination skiers to sample many large resorts, will remain an option in its current form and also go on sale in March. The M.A.X. Pass, founded by Intrawest, Powdr and Boyne, will sunset. Specific Ikon tiers and prices will be released in the coming weeks.
As an employee of one of the independent resorts on the MCP and now Ikon Pass, I watched first hand the worry of consolidation last spring turn to optimism in the fall. Now I know why.
Jagged ridgelines spread in seemingly endless directions at Alta Ski Area, serviced by relatively few lifts in just the right places to make skiing there a blast. Alta has collaborated with various lift manufacturers over its 80 year history to create unique contraptions such as the Transfer Tow, a Yan rope tow mechanically more similar to a chairlift and one of the world’s only high-speed triple chairs, called Sunnyside. In 2004, Alta and Doppelmayr CTEC dreamed up Collins, two Stealth high-speed quads joined together at a 29-degree angle with loading but no unloading at the mid-station. “Don’t text and bend,” a sign at the Wildcat base warns riders destined for the full trip.
This season, the new Supreme detachable quad goes where no bend has ever gone before, replacing both the Cecret double and Supreme triple but without an angle station. Prior to 2017, there were a handful of lifts that turn a few degrees using canted sheaves, particularly in Utah, where the mining scene created an enduring checkerboard of public and private lands. Snowbird, Park City, Deer Valley and Moonlight Basin in Montana all sport lifts that bend a few degrees for one reason or another.
Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.