News Roundup: Wyoming

  • The Province that owns Atlantic Canada’s largest ski resort grows tired of losing money and looks for a private operator for Marble Mountain.
  • Doppelmayr will build the largest vertical six-pack in the world this year at Ischgl, Austria with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain in a single section.
  • Boyne Resorts President and CEO Stephen Kircher says a recent bond sale and tax cuts should yield increased capital investment at his resorts over the next five years.  Boyne doesn’t plan to buy new mountains any time soon, however.
  • Fire update: Purgatory reopens summer operations, Arizona Snowbowl is still closed while Taos, Red River, Sipapu, Ski Santa Fe and Sandia Peak are under partial closures due to extreme fire danger.
  • Antelope Butte, Wyoming has raised the $360,000 it needs to complete lift work and reopen next winter.
  • Beartooth Basin ends its summer season early due to problems with the upper platter lift.
  • Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory says of committing $555 million to mountain improvements: “We went to each resort and said, ‘Tell us, as resort operators, what will make the biggest positive impact on the guest experience.’ They had long lists.”
  • Leitner is pulling ropes at 12,740′ for the highest-ever 3S gondola.
  • Big Sky posts sweet photos from the Austrian factory where America’s first eight passenger chairlift and D-Line stations are being prepared for shipment. Chairs will have some unique designs on the back too.
  • The Portland Aerial Tram returns to service 5:30 am Monday, three weeks early, thanks to crews slipping track ropes much faster than expected.
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News Roundup: Possible

  • Vail Resorts net income rises 41.5% over last year’s third quarter with Epic season pass sales up 12 percent in units and 19 percent in dollars through May 29th.
  • The new Lift One will likely be put to Aspen voters in a winter 2019 special election rather than the November general election.
  • The Western Idaho State Fair plans to debut a chairlift for the first time in August – apparently a used Riblet of unknown origin.
  • An urban gondola proposal in Ogden, Utah is back.
  • A great writeup about Heron’s early days answers why Aspen Skiing Company switched from Colorado’s homegrown lift company to Riblet.
  • Now’s your chance to enter to win one of Arapahoe Basin’s retired Norway chairs.
  • Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and the Sierra Club sign an agreement for the resort to abandon California Express Alternative 2 in exchange for the group withholding legal action against alternatives 3 and 4.
  • The Seattle suburb of Kirkland looks to a possible aerial lift to connect its city center with an upcoming bus rapid transit station.
  • Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and Whistler Blackcomb COO Pete Sonntag do a wide ranging interview with the local newspaper after a challenging year and a half.
  • Tower 6 of Howelsen Hill’s chairlift  is on the move for at least the third time as city leaders grapple with whether to fix it.
  • Beartooth Basin, the only summer ski resort in the United States, opens for the season as everyone else closes.  An experiment is also underway to run the lifts with biodiesel.
  • The Olympic Regional Development Authority proposes a new chairlift for its Lake Placid ski jumping venue.
  • Another Borvig surface lift bites the dust in favor of carpets.
  • Berkshire Bank says the Hermitage Club no longer has the right to restructure and argues receivership should proceed.  One Hermitage property is scheduled to be auctioned on June 25th.
  • A decision not to create an opportunity zone in Rangeley, Maine becomes yet another reason Saddleback is going nowhere fast.
  • The man accused of lying about spending a night on a Gore Mountain chairlift says he is innocent and may sue the State of New York.

Instagram Tuesday: Crafted

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

Still drooling over last night’s sunset.

A post shared by Boyne Mountain Resort (@boyne.mountain) on

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News Roundup: Shuffle

Beartooth Basin Summer Ski Area Lives On Despite Setbacks

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This platter lift sits at 10,900′ atop Beartooth Basin, thousands of feet above treeline at a unique summer-only ski lift operation.  The lifts haven’t spun for two years in a row due to lack of snow.

In a stunning alpine setting along the Beartooth Highway in Northwestern Wyoming sits the summit of one of America’s most unique ski destinations.  “You could call it backcountry skiing with a lift,” proclaims the website for Beartooth Basin Summer Ski Area.  Located at 10,900 feet between Red Lodge, Montana and the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, Beartooth Basin is the only ski resort in North America that opens for summer but not winter.  To give a sense of the environment we’re talking about, the parking lot sits 450 feet higher than the top of the Jackson Hole Tram, 115 miles and two national parks to the southwest.  I made some turns this spring in Beartooth Basin to check out the lifts shortly after the pass reopened Memorial Day weekend.

BeartoothBasinTrailMap

In good times, Beartooth Basin offers 900 vertical feet of skiing on six hundred acres serviced by two platter lifts that generally spin late-May through mid-July.  But everything here is subject to exception rather than rule and it hasn’t snowed enough for Beartooth Basin to open the past two years.  Even in good seasons, storms close the road and ski area, subjecting it to the whims of National Park Service plowing.  In 2005, the highway never even opened.  Despite years with too much snow, others without enough snow and still more with landslides, the dream lives on for the love of skiing.

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Both platter lifts are remarkably steep, combining to serve the even steeper Twin Lakes Headwall.

Pepi Gramshammer of Vail fame created Red Lodge International Race Camp with help from fellow Austrians Eric Sailer and Anderl Molterer in 1967 with the purchase of a portable Poma from Jean Pomagalski.  Named for the closest town in Montana, the ski area actually lies just across the border in Wyoming.  A permanent Doppelmayr platter was added in 1983 with another one following in 1984.  Five Red Lodge locals purchased the mountain from the original ownership group in 2003 and renamed it Beartooth Basin.

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