After debuting the Humphreys Peak Quad in 2015 and the Grand Canyon Express in 2016, Arizona Snowbowl will replace its Hart Prarie lift this summer, marking another major investment by owner James Coleman. Surprisingly, the contract went to Doppelmayr and Snowbowl will operate new lifts from all three major manufacturers next winter. In a blog post announcing the project, General Manager J.R. Murray noted, “Arizona Snowbowl enjoys having the best learn to ski and snowboard progression terrain in the entire western US with Hart Prairie boasting a wide open and gentle meadow, allowing beginners to learn and gain confidence on the slopes. Snowbowl is where Arizonans learn to ski and snowboard because of the fantastic and easy terrain.” The new quad chair will only improve that offering.
Hart Prarie is a 1981 Riblet with center-pole double chairs, one of two such lifts remaining at the resort. The new top drive, Alpen Star-model Hart Prarie will feature a Chairkit loading carpet, padded seats and footrests. An 1,800 skier per hour capacity doubles that of the previous lift. The alignment will be slightly shorter – 2,533 feet – with a vertical of 518′.
Just over a year ago, Arizona Snowbowl near Flagstaff hadn’t seen a new lift in 30 years. Now under the ownership of James Coleman, the resort is undergoing a renaissance with two new lifts in the last two years, new snowmaking coverage and expanded terrain. Last fall, Skytrac installed a new quad chair on the lower mountain named Humphrey’s Peak, a nod to Arizona’s highest mountain. This winter, Snowbowl will add the largest new chairlift in the country called the Grand Canyon Express. Built by Leitner-Poma, the six-pack is nearly complete and staff couldn’t be more excited about their mountain’s first detachable lift serving popular intermediate terrain with a six minute ride.
The first six-place lift in the state is large by any measure, not just gauge but also length (5,801 feet) with an impressive vertical of 1,546 feet. The line will have 61 chairs initially, moving up to 1,800 skiers per hour at 1,000 feet per minute. Arizona Snowbowl will be able to add 54 more chairs to reach 3,400 pph in the future. The new lift serves all of the terrain formerly accessible from the Sunset triple chair, which may eventually be removed. The Grand Canyon Express also accesses 90 percent of the acreage off Agassiz, Snowbowl’s workhorse lift that takes 13 minutes to ride.
Austin’s NPR station dedicates more than seven minutes to a discussion about urban cable. “Once we went to La Paz, we were up and running within 12 months,” Doppelmayr’s Randy Woolwine tells listeners.
Whistler-Blackcomb releases Conflicted Obsessions documentary about climate change. “The gorilla in the room is the long-distance travel required to get to these special places,” admits W-B’s environmental resource manager.
Poma and Sigma are building a triangle-shaped gondola at a wildlife park in China with 224 cabins. They will come in four different animal designs and 70 will feature glass floors. The innovative lift will debut in January.
Mexicable opens October 3rd in Ecatepec, Mexico. The Leitner-built system has two haul ropes, seven stations and 190 cabins. The local Governor took a test run earlier this week and the video has been viewed more than 430,000 times.
An empty chair falls from the Gunbarrel Express at Thredbo, Australia during public operation. The lift is a 1988 Doppelmayr with DS grips.
Fresh on the heels of adding three lifts at his collective of Southwestern resorts last summer, James Coleman revealed today he will invest another $10 million to build new lifts and more at Arizona Snowbowl and Purgatory in 2016.
The Leitner-Poma-built Grand Canyon Express will serve 85 percent of Arizona Snowbowl’s terrain with a 5.8 minute lift ride. It will run approximately 5,500′ (1,530 vertical feet) in a new alignment starting near the Hart Prarie Lodge and topping out at 10,900′ in elevation near the Agassiz mid-station. This is the second new chairlift at Arizona Snowbowl following last summer’s Humphreys Peak addition that expanded the mountain’s intermediate terrain with a SkyTrac quad. The Sunset triple (a 1983 CTEC) will likely be removed and may be used to replace the Aspen double in the future. Arizona Snowbowl’s master plan also calls for a second detachable lift to replace the Hart Prarie double. Exciting times at a mountain whose very survival was questionable a few years ago!
In Colorado, Purgatory Resort will get a new two-way surface lift called T-3 to link the bottom terminals of backside lifts 5 and 8. The latter is a 1980 Riblet double, the former a 2015 Leitner-Poma high speed quad. Purgatory plans to add a similar connection between lifts 3 and 5 and replace more of the resort’s aging fixed-grip chairlifts (namely #2, 4 and 5) in upcoming years.
Mr. Coleman is the Durango-based businessman who’s owned Sipapu since 2000 and took over operations at Pajarito, Purgatory and Arizona Snowbowl in 2014. When the Durango Herald asked last year whether he was done buying ski areas, Coleman replied “no.” That’s great news considering his willingness to invest in capital improvements to the tune of $20 million thus far.
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.