- Monarch Mountain purchases the nearby Monarch Crest Scenic Tramway.
- Sundance’s new quad is named Wildwood.
- Vancouver drops out of bidding for the 2030 Winter Olympics, increasing the likelihood the games will be held in Utah.
- Construction begins on the world’s longest gondola in the Caribbean.
- The Vail Daily reports on environmental deficiencies with Beaver Creek’s 2021 McCoy Park lift and terrain expansion.
- Alterra-owned Blue Mountain renames the Century Express to Valley Express with new controls, new tower heads/sheaves, new carriers, a new rope and several tower height adjustments.
- Vail continues its charity chair sale extravaganza with more from Jack Frost and Big Boulder.
- The Summit at Snoqualmie sells chairs from Hidden Valley.
- Pacific Group Resorts, Inc. closes on its acquisition of Jay Peak.
- Waterville Valley’s MND bubble lift will be called Tecumseh Express.
- The Forest Service approves Attitash’s Summit triple replacement project.
- Parts from Sunday River’s former Jordan Express are spotted at Boyne sister resort Pleasant Mountain.
- Doppelmayr reports a 16 percent increase in revenue with a particular surge in investment in North America.
- Purgatory sues the Forest Service over water rights for snowmaking.
- Cypress Mountain sues the Province of British Columbia over paid parking.
- Supply chain issues will delay the opening of Alta’s Sunnyside six pack.
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: Merry Christmas
- Mad River Glen introduces a new James Niehues trail map.
- White Pass shareholders vote to sell Washington’s fifth largest ski area.
- Sun Peaks expects business to decline 50 percent this season due to extended road closures.
- Sierra at Tahoe tracks toward a limited reopening in Spring 2022.
- Magic Mountain apologizes to customers for not having a summit lift operational.
- Searchmont, Ontario reopens with a new chairlift after a 645 day Covid closure.
- It may be months before Kimberley’s main lift is operational; Revelstoke and Kicking Horse provide people-moving snowcats.
- Stevens Pass apologizes for severe staffing shortages resulting in only five open lifts.
- Deer Valley rope evacuates 167 people from the Carpenter Express.
News Roundup: Wish List
- The largest gondola network in the world looks to add four more lines.
- Aspen Mountain is likely to gain approval for Pandora’s next month with lift installation targeted for 2023.
- The Burnaby Mountain Gondola remains a top funding priority in the Vancouver region.
- 49 Degrees North names its new detachable quad Northern Spirit.
- Opposition emerges to the Lutsen Mountains expansion proposal.
- Kelly Canyon flies towers for its new Skytrac.
- Ground is broken for a seven station urban gondola system in Santiago, Chile.
- Beaver Creek releases its new map with McCoy Park. Okemo’s new lifts hit the trail map. Saddleback too.
- A proposed wildlife park with gondola ride receives a $400,000 grant from the State of North Dakota.
- Maine’s Mt. Abram reactivates its long disused Mini T-Bar.
- A documentary about Canada’s largest lost ski area will debut at the Banff Film Festival.
- MND Ropeways commences construction on its first North American detachable at Waterville Valley.
- 462 ski areas operated last season in the United States, 8 fewer than 2019/20.
- Purgatory’s Ice Creek expansion and triple chair are approved, subject to a 45 day objection period.
- Ski Cooper’s wish list includes a frontside detachable quad and lifts on Chicago Ridge.
- Alberta’s Hidden Valley may not open this season.
- Nitehawk takes delivery of Lake Louise’s former Summit Platter for immediate installation and conversion to a T-Bar.
- A Snow King gondola update.
- Fire-damaged Big Snow American Dream will remain closed into 2022.
- As some suggest a gondola, Denver International Airport seeks proposals for a non-rail link between its three concourses.
Five Mountains Readying Terrain Expansions for 2021-22
Despite an 18 month pandemic, supply chain challenges and continued uncertainty, a handful of US and Canadian ski resorts are putting finishing touches on expansion projects set to debut this winter. Two of these were delayed in 2020 and resumed construction this year while others were actually accelerated during Covid. Many of this year’s projects focus on learning terrain enhancements following the pandemic winter when new and lapsed skiers gravitated toward the mountains.
McCoy Park – Beaver Creek Mountain, Colorado
The lone expansion this year featuring two new chairlifts is Beaver Creek’s McCoy Park, encompassing 250 acres of new high alpine terrain. This beginner zone follows in the footsteps of Haymeadow Park and Red Buffalo Park, which both offer dedicated terrain for new skiers and snowboarders with detachable lifts. The new McCoy Park Express will service 17 trails and the Reunion Quad will provide easy exit from McCoy Park to the Upper Beaver Creek Mountain and Strawberry Park Express lifts.
Lower Juniper – Lake Louise, Alberta
Another beginner-focused expansion featuring a detachable quad is underway at Lake Louise. The new Lower Juniper Express is the second new chairlift here in two years. It will access four new low intermediate trails and provide an alternate out-of-base option to access the upper mountain.
Sunny Side – Snow King Mountain, Wyoming
Shadowed somewhat by construction of a new 8 passenger gondola on the front side of the mountain, Sunny Side at Snow King Mountain will also open this winter. This new backside bowl features extensive snowmaking and a Skytrac fixed grip quad.
Buzzsaw – Searchmont, Ontario
Searchmont hasn’t hosted a single day of skiing since March 2020, which makes its terrain expansion even more remarkable. New owner Wisconsin Resorts took delivery of two Skytrac triples last year, one of which replaced an existing Borvig double. The second lift sat in storage last winter and is now being installed to service two brand new beginner trails.
Merrill Hill – Sunday River, Maine
2021’s only New England expansion is a ninth peak at Sunday River. Merrill Hill features four ski trails and 23 new home sites near the South Ridge base area. This low angle zone will be serviced by a new Doppelmayr fixed grip triple, the mountain’s 15th chairlift.
News Roundup: Skytrac Upgrades
- New Zealand and Victoria, Australia resorts reopen after extended Covid closures (New South Wales remains locked down.)
- Mt. Spokane will replace the drive terminal of Chair 2 with a new one from Skytrac.
- Skytrac is completing similar mods to Tumbelina at Monarch Mountain.
- The fate of the Pandora’s expansion on Aspen Mountain will be decided October 13th.
- Sierra at Tahoe still doesn’t know the full extent of lift damage from the Caldor Fire but remains optimistic.
- Users get stuck on one of Mexico City’s new gondola lines following an earthquake.
- The Holding family agrees to sell most of Sinclair Oil Corporation’s assets, though Sun Valley and Snowbasin aren’t included.
- The Forest Service issues a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Lutsen Mountains’ proposed expansion with public comments being solicited through October 25th. A new alternative would see the addition of five new chairlifts on Moose and Eagle Mountains rather than the initially planned seven.
- The only lift in Oklahoma won’t open for the second year in a row and is in danger of removal.
- Schweitzer adds 14 chairs to Stella.
- A quick update from Snow King Mountain:
News Roundup: Firm Orders
- Mexico’s Grupo Vidanta will build a second SkyDream gondola system, this time at Vidanta Riviera Maya.
- Sundance auctions chairs from the former Arrowhead triple.
- The team at Craigleith, Ontario wins the inaugural Ski Area Management/Leitner-Poma Rise Up Challenge.
- Four Japanese resorts sign on to the Indy Pass.
- Arizona Snowbowl’s new gondola has been down for two weeks and the ski area moves its entire summer operation to a different base area and the Grand Canyon Express.
- Beaver Creek’s two new quads will be named McCoy Park Express and Reunion.
- The sale price for Blue Mountain, PA is revealed as $31.9 million.
- MND reports annual results with ropeway sales up 32 percent and a firm order backlog of €91.7 million.
- A group continues to push for a West Seattle gondola as a planned rail project gets delayed.
- Squaw Alpine and Leitner-Poma make great progress on the base to base gondola, though they aren’t publicly committing to a completion timeline.
- Citing staffing and fire danger, Mt. Shasta ends its summer season early.
- After missing a year, Searchmont plans to reopen this season with two new triple chairs.
- Manitoba’s Holiday Mountain announces it won’t open in 2021-22.
- Vail Resorts unveils a succession plan with CEO Rob Katz moving to an Executive Chairperson role and Chief Marketing Officer Kirsten Lynch becoming CEO November 1.
- Icy Strait Point and Norwegian Cruise Line cut the ribbon on the Transporter gondola with another 8 passenger system set to open later this summer.
- Jay Peak’s former President and CEO will plead guilty to a single charge of providing false statements and other charges are expected to be dropped.
- Keystone posts a big update on the Peru Express replacement project.
- Aspen Snowmass introduces a new brand and logo which is already on some gondola cabins.
- Snowbasin’s Middle Bowl replacement project gets off to the races.
News Roundup: Breaking Ground
- Utah’s transportation department will host an open house July 13th to explain as solicit feedback on the gondola and enhanced bus alternatives for Little Cottonwood Canyon.
- Loon and Doppelmayr fly the towers for Kancamagus 8.
- A brown bear did not ride a chairlift at Vail as you may have read on Facebook.
- Welch Village’s new lift will be called the Cannon Valley Quad.
- The first test of UpBus, a passenger-carrying pod which transitions between wheel and cable propulsion, takes place at Doppelmayr headquarters.
- Mt. Southington replaces chairs and towers on the Avalanche double.
- The asking price is reduced for the defunct Plymouth Notch ski area in Vermont.
- Beaver Creek breaks ground in McCoy Park.
- Gondolas arrive at Snow King Mountain.
- Pueblo, Colorado considers building a $20 million sightseeing gondola.
- The investigation into the Mottarone disaster widens to 12 people including Leitner employees and the company itself. Leitner says in a statement that it is cooperating with investigators and that its maintenance operations were done in full compliance with the law and contractual obligations.
Vail Resorts to Debut Seven New Lifts in 2021
Despite a 44 percent decline in earnings, Vail Resorts plans to invest in new lifts across five mountains in 2021. The seven projects at Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Keystone and Okemo were initially planned for 2020 but postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. “We remain committed to reinvesting in our resorts and creating an experience of a lifetime for our guests,” noted CEO Rob Katz. “We plan to maintain a disciplined approach to capital investments, keeping our core capital at reduced levels given the continued uncertainty due to COVID-19.” The company will announce its complete capital plan for calendar year 2021 in March.
At Beaver Creek, a new Doppelmayr detachable quad will service the high alpine McCoy Park learning zone. “This new lift accessed beginner and intermediate bowl experience is a rare opportunity to expand with highly accessible terrain in one of the most idyllic settings in Colorado and will further differentiate the high-end, family focused experience at Beaver Creek,” said the company. A second quad chair will provide egress to the top of the Strawberry Park and Upper Beaver Creek Mountain Express lifts.
At Keystone, Leitner-Poma will replace the Peru Express with a six pack. The new machine will increase out-of-base capacity and improve circulation. Also in Summit County, a new detachable quad on Breckenridge’s Peak 7 will enhance uphill capacity near the Independence SuperChair. “This additional lift will further enhance the guest experience at the most visited resort in the U.S. and will significantly increase guest access and circulation for the intermediate terrain on Peaks 6 and 7,” said Vail.
Crested Butte plans to replace the two-person Peachtree chairlift with a Skytrac triple servicing beginner terrain at the base of the resort. Grading around the new lift will create a more consistent experience for beginner and ski school guests.
News Roundup: Going Virtual
- Beaver Creek’s website is updated to show the McCoy Park expansion coming for the 2021-22 ski season.
- Doppelmayr will build a $9.3 million temporary gondola for a horticulture show in Germany.
- A developer in St. George, Utah looks to build a lift-served bike park.
- An unnamed ski area in New York hits the market with an asking price of $1.6 million.
- The pandemic may have actually helped Timberline Mountain rebuild faster this summer.
- Searchmont, located near the Ontario-Michigan border with two new lifts under construction, remains uncertain what this winter will look like.
- Jamie Storrs, Senior Manager of Communications for Vail Resorts in the east, answers questions about reservations and more on the Out of Bounds Podcast.
- Spirit Mountain receives a $300,000 cash infusion allowing it to open this winter.
- Solitude profiles a major maintenance project on the Eagle Express.
- The Park Record checks in on Mayflower Mountain Resort construction and The Wall Street Journal reports Extell would like to partner with an established ski operator like Vail or Alterra.
- Indy Pass sales are pacing six times higher than last year!
- New Alaska ski area Skeetawk plans a December 5th grand opening.
- Poma launches a fresh new website.
- Mt. Baldy, Ontario, which initially held off on construction of a new chairlift this summer, decides to proceed with a fall installation.
- A virtual open house is now open for Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit project scoping.