- Sun Valley and Snowbasin ditch the Epic Pass, will be Ikon Pass and Mountain Collective partners beginning next season.
- Also for next season, Alterra pulls Mammoth, Palisades Tahoe and Sugarbush from the Mountain Collective Pass.
- Cascade Mountain lists the Mogul Monster triple for sale.
- New York State ski areas report a 26 percent increase in revenue so far this season.
- Newly nonprofit Skiland Alaska looks to raise $100,000 for upgrades to its chairlift.
- Jay Peak says it has two viable suitors currently.
- A great podcast features Andy Shepard of Saddleback taking listeners through the mountain’s closure, sale and reopening.
- The team behind Edmonton’s Prairie Sky Gondola says it’s working on another gondola in a different Canadian city.
- Fast Company features a story on gondolas as urban transportation gap fillers.
- Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory is quoted saying this season has gone “shockingly well” despite “pinch points.”
- Leaders in Alaska’s capital city vote to spend $2 million on a used pulse gondola for Eaglecrest Ski Area.
- Big Squaw owner James Confalone is ordered to pay $4.5 million in penalties for timber violations and failure to maintain the ski area.
- Alpine-X proposes a second indoor ski area in Dallas.
- Officials pause pursuit of a Gunstock expansion.
- Flying Yankee at Attitash will be down for the foreseeable future due to an issue with the tension system.
- The Colorado Sun catches up with me to talk about visiting every US ski area.
- A Panorama guest is helicoptered to a hospital after falling off the Mile 1 quad.
- Crystal Mountain confirms a $100 million capital plan will include new lift(s) and expanded terrain in 2023-24.
- The proposed Okanagan Gondola is already moving forward.
- Belleayre and Doppelmayr organize a major gearbox repair operation on the Belleayre Express.
- Skiers criticize staffing and operations at Hunter Mountain.
News Roundup: Letters from the Top
- Vail removes the East and West doubles from the Attitash trail map, replacing them with the Progression Quad to be built this summer.
- Vail sends resources from California and Colorado to help open lifts at Stevens Pass.
- The Wall Street Journal interviews Kirsten Lynch about Vail’s challenging start to the season.
- Vail Resorts expects to save millions of kilowatt hours of electricity annually by installing heat controls on 40 Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek lifts.
- Doppelmayr will build Stowe’s Mountain six passenger lift at a cost of $5.2 million.
- Pine Knob says it will be without Chair 1 for a few weeks due to a mechanical issue.
- Berkshire East and Catamount owner Jon Schaefer apologizes for project delays including two used lifts which have yet to open.
- Mission Ridge continues to criticize the approval process for its long-sought expansion.
- A man falls from the new Peru Express at Keystone.
- Bighorn Sheep concerns may quash Grand Targhee’s expansion dreams.
- Mt. Rose retires the Lakeview triple early due to “maintenance items that can’t be rectified.”
- Jay Peak updates guests on a Bonaventure quad gearbox issue.
- The only MND lift in the western United States has been down since last weekend.
- The latest bold plan from Les Otten would see skiing return to The Balsams in late 2023.
- A letter to Loon Mountain passholders acknowledges challenges with the new Kancamagus 8 lift.
- A quad chairlift is rope evacuated by firefighters at Earl Bales Park, Ontario.
- Timberline President Jeff Kohnstamm says a Government Camp gondola is still a number of years out but would include a mid-station, direct drive and 10 passenger cabins.
News Roundup: Growing Pains
- Vail Resorts officially takes ownership of Seven Springs, Laurel Mountain and Hidden Valley.
- Vail faces a mountain of criticism for operational struggles from Colorado to Washington, Ohio, New Hampshire and beyond.
- Vail slashes operating days and/or hours at Crotched Mountain, Hidden Valley, Snow Creek, Boston Mills/Brandywine/Alpine Valley and Mad River Mountain due to employee shortages.
- Stevens Pass rope evacuates two chairlifts in one day citing power outages.
- Park City Chief Operating Officer Mike Goar sits down for an extended interview to explain some of the issues facing Vail.
- The Park City ski patrol union rejects Vail Resorts’ latest contract offer, fundraises for a possible work stoppage.
- Beaver Creek will open the McCoy Park expansion Monday.
- Vail applies with the Forest Service to replace the Summit Triple at Attitash with a four or six passenger detachable.
- Waterville Valley proposes building an MND T-Bar in the former World Cup Triple alignment.
- Monarch Mountain advances the No Name Basin expansion.
- No link but I’m told Montana Snowbowl is moving forward with building a lift from the base area up TV Mountain.
- Ditto for Windham Mountain replacing the Whiteway triple with a Doppelmayr D-Line detachable.
- Sandia Peak management says tram icing which led to a 14 hour evacuation was unprecedented.
- Crystal Mountain announces a lift reservation system, quickly changes course to parking reservations instead.
- Another of Iowa’s ski areas transitions from private to public ownership.
- Some 80 containers arrive from Europe for the Caribbean’s next big urban gondola.
- Sunshine Express at Steamboat is closed all week for a motor repair.
- Magic Mountain’s Red lift passes another inspection and load test, will reopen Saturday.
- Charles Skinner takes full ownership of Lutsen Mountains.
News Roundup: American Rescue Plan
- Moosehead Mountain’s redevelopment is pushed back to 2023 at the earliest.
- Deer Valley moves toward replacing the Silver Lake Express, possibly with a gondola.
- A proposed development adjacent to Big Sky Resort includes a pulse gondola and two platter lifts.
- Whiteface’s new quad is named Warhorse.
- Snow King’s new gondola opens tomorrow but not for skiing.
- The first pieces of Waterville Valley’s Bartholet/MND six pack arrive stateside.
- A new map shows where Caberfae Peaks’ East Peak triple will go.
- Attitash permanently closes the West Double Double to “prep for it being replaced.”
- Mountain Capital Partners unveils a concept plan for 19 new lifts across thousands of acres at Brian Head.
- The Forest Service green lights construction of Mt. Hood Meadows’ first six pack.
- Breckenridge celebrates 60 years of massive growth.
- Bartholet plans to build its first RopeTaxi with cabins departing on demand in 2022.
- Cannon will seek American Rescue Plan funds for tram overhaul/replacement, possibly as early as 2023.
- Blacktail Mountain joins the Indy Pass.
- A video shows a loaded lift roll back in Kyrgyzstan.
News Roundup: ConnX
- Leitner unveils a prototype dual mode transport system which combines ropeway technology with autonomous driving.
- Developer Perry Williams still expects to purchase Big Squaw, Maine in the coming months and will change the mountain’s name. Chairs from the former Thompson double are being auctioned.
- New York State resorts saw a 27 percent increase in visits last season with four million skier days.
- Interior BC ski areas again face being cut off from their largest markets, this time due to floods. Sasquatch Mountain Resorts postpones its opening day due to the State of Emergency.
- More than 12,000 people sign a petition asking Whistler Blackcomb to require proof of vaccination for riding gondolas.
- Park City won’t run Eaglet this winter.
- The State of New Hampshire says a replacement Cannon Tram could carry 100 passengers and cost between $24 and 32 million.
- Wachusett’s owners explored purchasing a bubble six pack and made an offer for Jay Peak last year.
- Another great podcast with the legend himself – James Niehues.
- A local newspaper traces the history of the first chairlift and gondola on the West Coast, both located at Sugar Bowl.
- Catamount’s new trail map shows the locations of two new lifts.
- The new Grand Targhee map shows where the Peaked Mountain lift will go next year.
- Attitash introduces a completely new trail map.
- Gunstock will host an open house tomorrow to unveil its new master plan.
- Florida investors propose leasing and operating long-closed Cuchara in Colorado.
News Roundup: A Long Time Coming
- Fairfax County will host an open house tomorrow regarding the proposed Alpine-X indoor mountain resort.
- Attitash fully removes what remained of the Top Notch double
- The Icy Strait Point Mountain Top gondola is now scheduled to debut in May 2022.
- I’m thrilled to report the quad chairlift in Wears Valley, Tennessee is open for business, nine years after construction!
- Summit Ski Area officially merges into Timberline Lodge, which becomes the largest vertical ski area in America at 4,540 feet.
- The former Colby College ski area in Maine fundraises to resume downhill operations for the first time since the ’70s with a T-Bar planned for a future phase.
- Also in Maine, Sunday River and Doppelmayr near completion of the Merrill Hill project as survey markers appear under the Jordan Bowl Express.
- In Australia, Thredbo closes a week early due to lack of guests.
- The Forest Service signs off on Copper’s Lumberjack Express project, though the resort does not yet have a timeline for construction yet.
- In a lawsuit, Alterra says it’s owed more than $200 million for lost business during the pandemic which should have been covered by insurance.
- Vail Resorts plans to load lifts to full capacity this winter at all 34 of its North American resorts. No passholder reservations required, employees must be vaccinated by November 15th and guests must show proof of vaccination to dine at indoor cafeterias.
- Vail also reports strong full year financial results with lift revenue up 17.9 percent from a year ago and operating expenses down 5.4 percent.
- Sierra at Tahoe says both Nob Hill and Short Stuff were damaged by the Caldor Fire.
- Great Bear will unveil the naming rights partner for its new chairlift on October 16th.
- Searchmont gets a new trail map showing two new lifts. Also its Blue Mountain triple chair will be inoperable until early February.
- Purgatory says its six pack will be closed at least two more weeks, gives summer season passholders next summer for free due to continued lift problems.
- Bartholet announces a major five section gondola contract with Switzerland’s LAAX. The Ropetaxi system will feature cabins which move autonomously in stations and can be directed to a specific destination by passengers.
Vail Resorts to Build 19 Lifts at 14 Resorts in 2022
Vail Resorts today announced it will pump $320 million into its mountains coming out of the pandemic, building a whopping 19 new lifts next year. The company’s largest-ever annual investment will include a new gondola at Whistler Blackcomb, the firm’s first North American eight person chairlift at Park City and expansion into Bergman Bowl at Keystone. Vail properties across the Northeast and Midwest will also see new lifts. “Our mission at Vail Resorts is to provide an Experience of a Lifetime to anyone who visits our resorts – and delivering on that mission requires constant re-imagination and investment into the guest experience,” said Rob Katz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Vail Resorts. “Our teams have been hard at work identifying significant opportunities to improve the guest experience and have produced an initial list of exciting lift upgrades, a restaurant expansion and projects that expand access to incredible terrain for next season, with more to be announced.”
Subject to government approvals, lift projects planned ahead of the 2022-23 season include:
British Columbia, Canada
- Whistler Blackcomb, Creekside Gondola: A new 8-person gondola, replacing the existing 6-person gondola, will significantly improve wait times and increase out-of-base uphill capacity by 35% in the Creekside area, especially on high-volume days.
- Whistler Blackcomb, Big Red Express: The replacement of the existing high-speed 4-person lift with a high-speed 6-person chair will increase uphill capacity by nearly 30% and enhance and modernize the guest experience mid-mountain out of the Creekside area.
- Keystone Resort, Bergman Bowl: Enhancements to Bergman Bowl will include a new high-speed 6-person chairlift, increasing lift-served terrain by 555 acres. Additional enhancements include 16 new trails, a ski patrol facility and snowmaking infrastructure. This project unlocks access for novice and intermediate guests and provides expanded entry to expert terrain in Independence and Erickson Bowls.
- Vail Mountain, Sun Down Lift: The installation of a new high-speed 4-person chair in the Sun Down Bowl from the base of Chair 5 (High Noon Express) to the Wildwood restaurant will materially reduce wait times on peak days at Chair 5 and create the opportunity for skiers and riders to much more conveniently access the trails in Sun Down Bowl.
- Vail Mountain, Game Creek Bowl: Skiers and riders will see improved reliability and capacity in this popular bowl with the replacement of the current 4-person chair with a new high-speed 6-person lift, increasing capacity by nearly 50%.
- Breckenridge Ski Resort, Rip’s Ride Lift: The beginner/ski and ride school experience will be enhanced at the highly utilized Peak 8 base area by replacing the current fixed-grip double with a high-speed 4-person chair, increasing uphill capacity by nearly 70% and improving out-of-base circulation.
- Park City Mountain, Eagle Lift: A high-speed 6-person chair with a new mid-station will replace the existing Eagle lift, significantly reducing crowding and wait times, and improving the guest experience, especially for beginner skiers and ski and ride school guests.
- Park City Mountain, Silverlode 8-Person Lift: Vail Resorts’ first-ever high-speed 8-person chair, replacing an existing 6-person chair, will increase uphill capacity by 20% and reduce wait times at a critical spot to circulate guests on mountain.
Lake Tahoe, California & Nevada
- Northstar California, Comstock Lift: A new high-speed 6-person chair will replace the existing mid-mountain 4-person chair and is designed to reduce wait times at one of the mountain’s most popular lifts and increase uphill capacity by nearly 50%.
- Heavenly Ski Resort, North Bowl Lift: The replacement of an existing fixed-grip triple with a high-speed 4-person chair will increase uphill capacity by more than 40% and reduce the combined ride time of the Boulder and North Bowl lifts, which is expected to reduce wait times at the Stagecoach and Olympic lifts.
Vermont & New Hampshire
- Stowe Mountain Resort, Mountain Lift: The replacement and extension of the existing fixed-grip triple to a high-speed 6-person lift will increase uphill capacity by 100%, eliminate the steep hike to the base of the lift, improve reliability on windy days and offer beginner and intermediate guests with better access to lower-level terrain choices.
- Mount Snow, Sundance/Tumbleweed Lift: The replacement of the Sundance and Tumbleweed triples with one high-speed 6-person lift will improve access to underutilized terrain and alleviate pressure on other lifts in the main base area, increasing uphill capacity by nearly 70%.
- Mount Snow, Sunbrook Lift: A new high-speed 4-person chair to replace the existing fixed-grip quad will significantly decrease the current 14-minute ride time by approximately 30% and result in better utilization of the Sunbrook terrain.
- Attitash Mountain Resort: The replacement of the East and West Double-Double chairs with one fixed-grip 4-person chair will improve reliability and enhance the overall guest experience.
Pennsylvania & Ohio
- Jack Frost/Big Boulder: The replacement and consolidation of multiple lifts at both resorts will improve reliability and enhance the overall guest experience. Jack Frost will receive two new fixed-grip 4-person chairs (one to replace the B & C lifts and the other to replace the E & F lifts) and Big Boulder will receive a new fixed-grip 4-person chair to replace the Edelweiss Triple.
- Boston Mills/Brandywine: At Boston Mills, the resort will get a new fixed-grip 4-person chair replacing the Lift 5 double. At Brandywine, a new fixed-grip 4-person chair will replace the Lift 3 triple.
Including this latest capital plan dubbed the Epic Lift Upgrade, Vail Resorts’ total investment is expected to reach approximately $2.2 billion over 15 years. The move comes as Vail enjoys brisk season pass sales. Epic Pass adoption through September 17, 2021 for the upcoming 2021/2022 North American winter season increased approximately 42 percent in units and approximately 17 percent in sales dollars as compared to the same period in the prior year. Compared with pre-pandemic 2019, Epic Pass sales increased an incredible 67 percent in units and 45 percent in sales dollars.
Although no manufacturers were identified for the 19 new lifts, an initiative of this size is likely to include multiple suppliers.
News Roundup: Powerhouse
- The West Virginia Timberline may be sold out of bankruptcy to an LLC offering $2.5 million.
- A Quebec resort is ordered to pay out six figures after leaving a guest stranded on a lift.
- Steamboat’s new gondola haul rope is spliced.
- Doppelmayr becomes a billion dollar company by annual revenue, up 10.5 percent from last year.
- Manning Park narrows the names for its new quad down to four and wants your help choosing one.
- A very long stop and near evacuation makes the local newspaper in Sun Valley.
- Another first is brewing in Europe: a gondola with cabin doors on two sides.
- Indy Pass adds eight more resorts.
- Eastlink Park in Alberta is adding a used Mueller T-Bar for this winter.
- ‘Qualified and reputable’ investors have expressed interest in the Hermitage Club assets in recent weeks.
- There are now four alternatives for possible Snow King Mountain expansion.
- Wired looks into the failures of both urban gondolas in Rio de Janeiro.
- Attitash assures skiers its Summit Triple is finally fixed after last year’s extended closures.
- Revelstoke receives a shipment of 22 new gondola cabins.
- Cooper releases the trail map for its Tennessee Creek Basin expansion and Little Horse T-Bar.
- The Orlando Sentinel hosts a half hour podcast all about the Disney Skyliner.
- Mont St. Sauveur’s new heated seat chairlift will be named Sommet Express.
News Roundup: Companies
- All of a sudden, the Aspen Lift One project finds itself in jeopardy.
- The City of Branson ends its exclusive agreement with a would-be gondola developer after years of false starts.
- Two companies bid to replace the Barrows double at Howelsen Hill in 2020 or 2021.
- Disney Skyliner attendants will start at $12 an hour.
- Competing resorts comment on the New Hampshire Vail acquisitions as Attitash touts major lift maintenance investments.
- A jury decides Wachusett Mountain should pay $3.3 million to the family of a child who was injured in a 30 foot fall from the Polar Express in 2015.
- The Placer County Board of Supervisors unanimously approves the California Express gondola project.
- Utah Olympic Park breaks ground on the first phase of its major expansion with a second new lift to follow in two to five years.
- A study concludes Teton Pass, Montana would need to attract 15,000 visitors annually to reopen as a viable resort.
- Big changes are coming to the EB-5 visa program, which some ski areas have used to pay for big ticket improvements in the past.
- Timberline’s owners hire an investment bank to sell the ski area.
- Berkshire Bank and others slam the latest Hermitage restructuring plan.
- TransLink gets serious about building a 3S in metro Vancouver.
News Roundup: Slow Boat
- After years of gondola negotiations with the Town of Jackson, a frustrated Snow King Mountain presses pause while it waits for the U.S. Forest Service to weigh in.
- Doppelmayr completes the final link in the world’s largest gondola chain. The stats: 10 lines, 21 miles, 34 stations and 1,324 cabins carrying 300,000 daily passengers.
- Crested Butte’s longest lift goes down for more than four days due to communication line damage.
- The announced sale of Montana’s Great Divide won’t happen.
- Peak Resorts posts a solid financial quarter with organic growth in revenue and earnings.
- The Whistler paper highlights what happens when the big Blackcomb Gondola goes down.
- SkyTrans Manufacturing says it’s not to blame for the Ohio State Fair’s delay in replacing potentially corroded chairs on its skyride. As a result of the chairlift situation, Ohio will require all ride operators to forward manufacturer directives to state inspectors going forward.
- After tons of hard work by its lift mechanics and contractors, Attitash concedes it won’t be able to fix Summit‘s gearbox this season. “We’ve heard your calls for a new lift to replace the Summit Triple, and while we appreciate all your feedback, this is not a project our parent company, Peak Resorts, is looking to do in the near future,” says GM John Lowell.
- Leaders of Alta, Aspen Snowmass, Big Sky and Jackson Hole all pen letters addressing the chorus of Ikon Pass crowding criticism.
- The Glenwood Caverns gondola takes flight tomorrow with 17 Sigma cabins. 27 more are on a delayed boat from France and will be put on line when they arrive.