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.
La Paz breaks ground on its 17th and 18th gondolas, set to open in 2019.
The Saddleback sale still hasn’t closed and an update suggests a shift in focus from building new lifts to reopening with a limited number of existing ones.
Here’s a great rundown of Sigma’s new Symphony 10 gondola cabin, which complements the Diamond series.
In surprise announcement, Teton Pass says it won’t open this winter. This awesome but remote Montana resort has a 1973 SLI double and a number of used chairlifts in the parking lot for possible expansion.
New Zealand’s longest chairlift will reopen December 5th, nine months after a wildfire burned chairs and ruined the haul rope.
Leitner-Poma is building a big new lift in Little Cottonwood Canyon this summer, the company’s first in the Beehive State since 1997. Alta Ski Area created a brand around being old school but the new Supreme high-speed quad will showcase the latest technology from Grand Junction and beyond. The new lift will bring detachable access to nearly all of Alta’s terrain and will be Leitner-Poma’s first lift to make a turn using canted sheaves rather than an angle station (there must be something in Utah’s water because Supreme will be the state’s fourth lift to make such turns of varying degrees for various reasons.) Alta Ski Area worked with LPOA and the Forest Service on an alignment that effectively replaces both the Cecret and Supreme lifts while reducing impacts to wetlands and surrounding forests in exchange for expedited approval. As I saw yesterday, it’s all coming together nicely.
The rugged Point Supreme is abuzz with construction. The new lift’s first few towers follow a direct path from the future drive station near Alf’s Restaurant to the former Supreme bottom terminal. Just above the old station site, a series of three closely-spaced towers achieve the necessary line turn. From here, the lift jogs steeply up, mirroring the former triple chair. Two Yan tower tubes near the summit still stand and might be re-used with new tower heads.Update 9/14/17: All 16 towers will be new.