The White River National Forest will consider yet another new lift project over the coming months, this time high on Aspen Mountain. A Notice of Proposed Action released today comes as the most-skied forest in the country simultaneously weighs proposals for two new lifts on Vail Mountain, two in McCoy Park at Beaver Creek and one at Aspen Highlands. For Ajax, Aspen Skiing Company proposes to build the long-dreamed of Pandora lift to the east of the current Gent’s Ridge lift while adding 148 acres of new terrain. The 4,191-foot top drive detachable quad would likely meet the Forest and SkiCo’s shared goals of enhancing terrain variety, improving circulation and providing reliable and consistent snow coverage.
Unlike many of its peers, only 37 percent of Aspen Mountain occupies National Forest lands while the other 63 percent is privately held. The new lift would traverse some of each and move up to 2,000 skiers per hour to the summit. Vertical rise would be 1,220′ compared with 1,079′ at the longer and flatter Gent’s Ridge. Aspen Skiing Company also proposes to add 53 acres of snowmaking coverage on six existing trails nearby. A 30 day public scoping period runs through June 15th and input is being accepted online. Project engineer SE Group has prepared an interactive web app to assist the public and there will be an open house as Aspen’s Limelight hotel next Wednesday night. Aspen Snowmass hopes to win approval around the new year and build as early as 2019.
Come November 6th, Aspen residents will vote for Governor, U.S. House, and likely whether a ski lift should return to the original base of Aspen Mountain. SE Group and the City of Aspen today posted 61 pages of study on the new Lift One with a focus on where to site the bottom terminal, a question which has lingered since 1972. Goals include retaining the historic structures of the first Lift One, threading the needle between two new developments, and improving skier flow. An aggressive proposed timeline begins Tuesday with review by the City Council that could culminate with a new gondola-chair combination lift spinning by late 2019. That would be 48 years after a shortened SLI-Riblet double dubbed 1A eliminated easy access for much of the town to Shadow Mountain.
The current lift starts about four towers higher than the 1946 single chair did and, like its predecessor, has reached the end of its useful life following decades of service. The International Ski Federation makes no secret the obsolete machine is a big reason why Aspen does not host World Cup skiing as often as some of its peers.
But things are finally looking up – or actually down. SE Group analyzed nine chondola, chairlift, surface lift and funicular options and ones dubbed Option 1 and Option 7 were identified for detailed study that commenced in February. An A and B variation were added to alternative number 7, leaving four scenarios in play to bring the lift back into town. Option 1, shown above, would put the bottom terminal level with Gilbert Street between the old Lift 1 terminal and the “new” one. Because of space constraints with Aspen Skiing Company’s preferred Telemix (chondola in Poma parlance), the lift would likely be a straight gondola or possibly a detachable chairlift. Skier access from above would be excellent but the public would have a 40-foot vertical climb to get to the load point from town. Furthermore, the developer of the proposed Lift One Lodge would have to give up an entire building worth of units. The historic lift terminal and remaining towers from the first Lift One could be retained, which is an important community objective. This is deemed a viable, but not best option.
The supremely-talented James Niehues is painting an all-new map of Copper Mountain to debut next winter along with two new lifts.
This month’s Poma Link spotlights good stuff from Europe…a new brand platform, details on Diamond Evo cabins and new sheave liners coming in 2019.
The Leitner Ropeways 2017 annual report is packed full of photographs and drawings for 32 new lifts the company completed last year.
The world’s tallest tubular lift tower goes up in La Paz at 194 feet!
A man who said he was stuck on a Gore Mountain chairlift the night of April Fool’s Day is charged with making false statements.
Two hackers say they were able to access the Doppelmayr Connect control system for an Austrian gondola in March, raising cyber security concerns. Doppelmayr says the issue has been fixed and no riders were ever at risk.
The latest Doppelmayr Wir highlights Yellowstone Club’s expansion and more.
The Gondola Project updates us on the Leitner-Poma tram project at San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower transit center.
Aspen Skiing Co. eyes opening the Pandora quad chairlift on Aspen Mountain in 2020.
Majella Group CEO Sebastian Monsour tells the Bangor Daily News his Australian company is still working to close on the purchase of Saddleback Mountain while a former employee is suing for unpaid wages.
Sun Peaks considers four possible lift projects for summer 2018, most likely being a CAD$8 million replacement of Crystal with an extended detachable. The world’s longest fixed-grip chairlift, Burfield, could be shortened with a corresponding capacity increase or new lifts added to Orient Ridge or West Morrisey.
Ski Magazine updates us on Big Sky 2025 and plans for a new tram or south side lift on Lone Peak.
Enjoy these sneak peak photos of two new quad chairs at Giants Ridge courtesy of Benjamin B.
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Navajo Nation leadership soundly rejects Grand Canyon Escalade gondola in 16-2 vote.
SkiCo and the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club plan to build a platter surface lift on the skier’s right side of Golden Horn at Aspen Highlands next summer.
There’s an unconfirmed rumor that the Cyclone at Sunrise Park, AZ won’t operate this winter. The 1983 Yan is North America’s longest triple chair at 7,982′ with 32 towers and 352 chairs. I’ve reached out to Sunrise for comment and will update if I hear anything.