- An in-depth look at the history of urban gondolas and what comes next.
- Buttermilk will open with full skier services and groomed runs April 8-9 but with no lifts.
- Hesperus reopens following two week closure to address deferred lift maintenance.
- Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation proposes operating Howelsen Hill.
- Giants Ridge puts a Riblet up for sale in advance of new lift construction. Another will be scrapped. Buttercup at Mt. Hood Meadows is also for sale.
- Vail Resorts revenue up 27.5% year-over-year; no new lifts for Whistler-Blackcomb in 2017.
- New Stagecoach website says two Doppelmayr chairlifts now on track to open in late 2018.
- PCL Construction Services files notice of commencement for utility relocation and prep at six Walt Disney World sites widely believed to be gondola station locations with possible opening in 2019.
- Belleayre gondola likely a go for this summer.
- Wolf Ridge, NC closes for the season following lightning damage to 1988 Doppelmayr quad. The place has an interesting past; a 2006 Doppelmayr CTEC quad and 1980 Borvig were both abandoned after a 2014 fire and only two lifts remain.
- Mexico’s latest gondola gets cabins.
- Poma moving to new headquarters in France.
- Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest approves Alta Supreme and Snowbasin Strawberry/Wildcat high speed quads.
- Moose charges lifties and guests at Alyeska, gets killed.
- Mi Teleférico’s blue line broke its own record last weekend carrying 64,275 passengers over two days.
- First look at a burned-out Christchurch Adventure Park shows some quad chairs were saved, haul rope was not.
- Another urban 3S idea pops up in metro Vancouver.
- Latest Aspen Mountain Lift 1A replacement plan to go before the City Council this month.
- Taos will apparently build three new lifts over the next two years, including a pulse gondola and high speed quad.
- I talk six-packs with the Vail Daily.
- Heavenly’s Comet Express remains closed following a Jan. 1st rope evacuation, apparently due to a gearbox issue. This is one of the reasons Vail Resorts is replacing its fleet of 1980s-vintage detachable quads.
- Doppelmayr and the United Nations are hosting a week-long urban mobility ropeway class in April.
- The New York Times tells the tale of Big Sky Resort.
- Ski patroller severely injured in fall from chair at Terry Peak.
- Gondola proposed to serve airport in Vietnam’s congested largest city.
- BC Parks considers a gondola to Mt. Seymour to alleviate parking and traffic problems.
- Ski Area Management‘s lift construction survey dropped this week. Highlights from its outlook for 2017:
- “We’re off to a strong year for ’17, there are lots of people asking about lifts…It’s very positive compared to the previous two years.” – Jon Mauch, Senior Sales Manager at Leitner-Poma
- “There’s a lot of enthusiasm about what could happen under a Trump administration. People expect deregulation and a more business-friendly climate.” – Mark Bee, President at Doppelmayr USA
- “We’re seeing lots of requests quotes, lots of major modifications and retrofits…It’s all being driven by the age of the existing lift infrastructure.” – Carl Skylling, General Manager at Skytrac
- I’ve already identified 29 new lifts likely to be built in 2017, pacing well above the last few years for mid-January.
- Slovakian manufacturer Tatralift debuts its third detachable lift using a Wopfner grip. That makes seven companies capable of building a detachable lift globally – Bartholet, BMHRI (China), Doppelmayr/Garaventa (Austria), Leitner–Poma (Italy), LST (France), STM (Turkey) and Tatralift (Slovakia.)
Every Tuesday, we pick our favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.
Alta submitted some grand plans to the Forest Service last week – 12 projects including at least five new lifts. The 77-year old ski area wants to replace more than half of its chairs in the next five years and build a low-capacity tram up 11,068′ Mt. Baldy. If approved and implemented, these would be the biggest changes to Alta’s lift system since the two-stage Collins high speed quad debuted in 2004.
Five lifts would be replaced with three new ones. Sunnyside, one of only two detachable triple chairs remaining in North America, would be subbed with a higher-capacity Chondola with chairs and gondola or cabriolet cabins. It would utilize the existing lift line and tower tubes where possible and have a capacity of 2,400 skiers per hour. Albion, a 1980 Yan double running adjacent to Sunnyside, would be removed without being replaced.
Higher on the Albion side of the mountain, Cecret and Supreme would be replaced by a single detachable quad with an angle station, much like Collins’ mid-station. Cecret and Supreme are both Yans built in 1981. The new detach would follow the first third of Cecret’s current lift line before joining the Supreme line so it could utilize some of the current towers. With these upgrades, the Albion side of Alta would go from five lifts to three. That’s before a new lift called Flora is added. Flora would be a short (985 foot) double chair replacing the East Baldy Traverse with a lift to get from the top of Sugarloaf to the top of Collins. The top-drive chair would move 1,200 skiers per hour out of Sugarbowl and have just four towers.
If you’ve never driven over 9,700′ Guardsman Pass in the summer, you might not realize just how close Brighton Ski Resort is to the upper reaches of Park City Mountain. In fact, from Brighton’s fire station to the top of the Jupiter lift is less than 7,000 linear feet. It’s this reality and a similar one in Alta’s Grizzly Gulch that makes Ski Utah’s One Wasatch concept tantalizingly close to becoming reality. But the feeling that the Wasatch just isn’t that big also has environmental groups scrambling to prevent any more of these mountains from becoming ski runs. The challenge for Save Our Canyons, the Sierra Club and others is that all the land needed to complete One Wasatch is already in the private hands of Royal Street Land Company (owner of Deer Valley,) Iron Mountain Associates (developer of The Colony) and Alta Ski Lifts Co.
Over the Pass
I’m convinced Park City and Brighton will be connected first. Ski Utah calls the two lifts needed for this connection Guardsman A and Guardsman B. They would rise from a common point adjacent to Guardsman Pass Road between Brighton and Park City’s Jupiter pod on land owned by Royal Street a.k.a. Deer Valley. Operationally, it would make the most sense for CNL/Boyne to build and operate these lifts as part of Brighton. Guardsman A, which would need approval from UDOT to cross State Route 190, would likely be a detachable quad approximately 4,065′ long with a vertical rise of 740′ ending near the top of Jupiter. Guardsman B would rise back towards Brighton and be a detachable quad about 3,800′ long with a vertical of 1,235′.
Royal Street Land Company has a strong interest in completing the Guardsman connection because it now also owns Solitude. With Guardsman in place, a Deer Valley skier at the top of Lady Morgan Express could ride 4 lifts (Pioneer and Jupiter at Park City, Guardsman B and Milly Express at Brighton) and be at Solitude in less than an hour. The return trip would be almost as easy – Summit Express to Great Western Express to Guardsman A and Park City Mountain, which already abuts Deer Valley. Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County would both need to approve the Guardsman lifts before construction could begin.
When it opened at Alta Ski Area in 2004, the new Collins lift was the 66-year old resort’s first base-to-summit lift. It replaced two older Yan fixed-grip lifts and dramatically improved the skiing experience at Alta. Collins is actually two detachable quad lifts joined in the middle at a 29-degree angle. Its four Stealth III terminals were the last off the line following Doppelmayr and CTEC’s merger two years earlier.
The lower section replaced the Collins double in a completely new alignment from the parking lot level of Alta’s Wildcat base area. The Wildcat double’s bottom terminal was also moved downhill the same summer to be adjacent to Collins. Stage I is only 2,727 feet long with a vertical rise of 741 feet, nine towers and ride time of 2.7 minutes. It was designed to be able to operate independently at night with gondola cabins to serve events and dining at the Watson Shelter although this has yet to be realized.
The angle station adjacent to Watson Shelter houses 500-HP drive motors for both sections. There is no unloading at the angle station but skiers can load empty up-bound chairs. Automated gates prevent skiers (remember this is Alta – no snowboarders) from attempting to load occupied chairs. The last time I was at Alta, there was no loading at the mid-station until after 10 am to allow maximum capacity out of the base area. After that, every 6th chair was left empty at the base to allow for loading at the mid-station.