News Roundup: Not Cheap

  • Above: lots more Ramcharger 8 parts arrive in Big Sky.
  • Schweitzer weighs alignment options and manufacturers for two new backside lifts scheduled for construction in 2019.
  • The only aerial tramway in Texas closes after nearly six decades.  “Replacement of the Wyler Aerial Tramway is estimated to cost millions of dollars.  Texas Parks and Wildlife Department does not have the financial resources to execute a capital construction project of this size at this time.”
  • Disney gives an Orlando TV station a rare official peak into Skyliner construction.
  • Following last week’s mishap, the operator of the Zugspitze Cable Car orders a new 120 passenger cabin, hanger and carriage.
  • Beaver Creek’s big McCoy Park expansion should be official in November and is planned to open in late 2020.
  • The Lewis & Clark bubble high-speed quad at Big Sky will finally see some action in 2021 when a $400 million Montage hotel opens at its base.
  • Ascutney Outdoors is on track to install a T-Bar this fall, anchoring a scaled down version of what was once a five chairlift area.
  • LST builds a T-Bar atop a waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen for residents to ski on year round.
  • Vail looks to Asia for growth.
  • Michael Doppelmayr is profiled for his 60th birthday.  Some interesting facts: his company’s gross margin was 12.1 percent last year and his father Artur vehemently opposed Doppelmayr’s merger with Garaventa.
  • New York’s high court clears the way for Belleayre to expand into the former Highmount Ski Center.
  • Bretton Woods and Doppelmayr make great progress on New Hampshire’s first 8 passenger gondola.
  • The leaders of North and South Korea ride a pulse gondola during their three day summit.
  • The State of New Hampshire will hold a public meeting about transferring the Mt. Sunapee lease to Vail Resorts on September 26th.
  • As it tries to secure a $30 million loan to open this winter, the Hermitage Club lawsuits keep coming.
  • Two major lifts are getting closer to reality at Copper Mountain.
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Gore & Whiteface Propose Ten New Lifts

Whiteface is the largest resort in the East by vertical and played host to the 1980 Olympic Downhill.  The New York State-owned Olympic Regional Development Authority continues to operate Whiteface along with nearby Gore Mountain and Belleayre in the Catskills.  This week, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed an impressive $62.5 million for capital improvements at ORDA facilities for 2018-19.  While the budget proposal is not yet law and does not identify specific items, it is likely to fund projects from Whiteface and Gore‘s management plans which, probably not coincidentally, were updated this month to include up to ten new lifts.

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The biggest project in Whiteface’s future is the replacement of the Freeway double (a 1978 Hall) in a completely new and much longer alignment.  A new high-speed quad would start at in the base area and cross over the Little Whiteface double-double, topping out on the Upper Mackenzie trail.  Two new trails would be cut from the top, making this lift ideal for intermediate skiers and riders.  A second project would replace the 1984 VonRoll double named Bear with a fixed-grip quad.  An offload opportunity would be included near the current top terminal and the new lift would continue to the Mid-station lodge area parallel with the Face Lift detachable quad.

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Current Whiteface trail map for reference.

Significant improvements are planned for the Bear Den beginner complex.  A relocated Riblet double-turned-triple currently services this zone and would be replaced with a fixed-grip quad.  “The new quad and magic carpet at Bear Den will serve the extensive trail work we are planning in that area,” Whiteface General Manager Aaron Kellett tells NY Ski Blog.  “We want to extend the lift top terminal higher to create better flow in and out of the area.”  Last year, Whiteface proposed a new lift from Bear Den all the way to the Mid-station but that plan has morphed into a conceptual transfer lift between the two base areas.  A second transfer lift (think gondola, pulse gondola or cabriolet) could link the main parking lot to the base lodge.

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News Roundup: Storied

  • The Eglise expansion at the Yellowstone Club looks like something straight out of Europe!  Thanks Everett K. for the photos.
  • The Alameda County Fair will debut a Skytrac skyride next year, the fourth such lift in California.
  • Disney teases more Skyliner renderings and the first tower footings going in the ground are massive.
  • Gearbox problem turns into a rope evac at Windham Mountain.
  • Power surge blamed for a three hour evacuation at Sasquatch Mountain.
  • Belleayre’s gondola proves itself from day one in subzero temperatures.
  • If it can raise enough money, Frost Fire, North Dakota plans to build a Skytrac fixed-grip chairlift next summer to replace two broken lifts.
  • A clearance issue needs to be resolved before Bear Valley can launch the Mokelumne Express.
  • A mechanic dies while working on a carpet lift at Loveland and a GoFundMe page has been set up to support his widow and three children.
  • With a “full pipeline,” Skytrac is hiring for construction positions.
  • North Korea’s second ski resort reportedly includes lifts manufactured locally, a result of UN sanctions prohibiting the import of luxury goods.
  • Silver Mountain celebrates a storied 50 years with a look back to construction of the world’s longest gondola, uniquely funded by federal, state and local governments along with VonRoll Tramways.
  • As we enter prime time for lift construction announcements, keep track of the 2018 roster here.

Instagram Tuesday: Night Shift

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

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Belleayre Gets Its Gondola

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The first gondola in the Catskill Mountains stands nearly complete at Belleayre Mountain, owned and operated by New York State.
Governor Andrew Cuomo surprised many back in February when he committed $8 million in public money to erect a gondola and make other improvements at Belleayre, the smallest of New York’s three state-owned ski resorts.  Reaction was swift with a vocal group of critics questioning the use of funds at a mountain with a modest 135,000 annual skier visits.  “Gondola to nowhere,” one user wrote on the NY Ski Blog.  “The stupidest lift ever built in the world,” said another passionate New Yorker.  Yet another, simply “a waste.”  Then came an anti-gondola petition.

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The Olympic Regional Development Authority stuck to its guns and Doppelmayr USA won the contract, beginning work on June 21st.  Just four and a half months later, a grand new machine stands with 13,615 feet of haul rope, 60 cabins and 16 towers coming together.  The new lift rises 1,350 feet from Discovery Lodge to the summit with super views along the way.

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Instagram Tuesday: Home Stretch

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

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News Roundup: Dire

  • Hemlock Mountain, BC re-brands as Sasquatch Mountain and eyes a high-speed quad to replace Skyline.
  • Vail Resorts’ fiscal 2017 net income rose 40.6 percent and skier visits 20.1 percent over 2016 with Epic Pass pass sales trending 17 percent higher for 2017-18.
  • Och-Ziff sells Mountain High back to previous ownership group.
  • Frost Fire, ND won’t open this winter, citing the “dire” condition of its triple chairlift.  The nonprofit mountain estimates $1.35 million is needed to buy a replacement.  The statement makes no mention of the mountain’s other lift, a double chair with Poma components.
  • Sugarloaf’s five year plan would turn the SuperQuad into a SuperSix in 2019, move the CTEC Stealth to Timberline and add a T-Bar to Brackett Basin in 2021.
  • Kevin Mastin paints a new trail map for Whiteface.
  • Belleayre’s gondola will feature a new rack design for snowboards and skis of different sizes.
  • Steamboat Resort won’t operate Howelsen Hill.
  • Resorts grapple with whether service dogs should ride chairlifts.
  • Allen Peak Tram’s new tower is in at Snowbasin.
  • Doppelmayr’s latest Wir magazine features Oakland’s new gondola and more.

News Roundup: Selloff

  • Owing $3.8 million to creditors, Deer Mountain, SD to be sold to the highest bidder in a sheriff’s sale today.  The mountain has two Riblet chairlifts.
  • Curbed counts down 11 gondolas changing the way people move through cities.
  • Steamboat sells off triple chairs from Four Points in 28 minutes (the lift got new Doppelmayr ones in 2012.)
  • Taos offloads 200 chairs from lifts 5 and 6 for $200 each with proceeds going to hurricane relief.  As of this writing, 37 remain.
  • Leitner Ropeways’ new gondola at the world’s largest hotel transported 3.5 million passengers in its first eight months.
  • Aspen Mountain installs Bluetooth speakers in Silver Queen Gondola cabins.
  • China Peak completes its first quad chair, the old Elkhead from Steamboat.
  • The Burnaby Mountain Gondola is back on the table.
  • Leitner-Poma of America inks contract to build a US$7.1 million high-speed quad at Falls Creek in Australia.
  • Vail Resorts launches interactive website with lift downtime and wait time data for last season at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Park City.
  • Belleayre’s gondola cabins arrive from across the pond.  Unfortunately, the name of the lift is spelled wrong on all of them.
  • Ski Magazine predicts the KSL-Aspen duo will benefit skiers with a second Epic-style season pass and major resort upgrades.
  • Skytrac and Timberline Helicopters fly towers for the new East Rim lift at Whitefish.  Thanks Buzz D. for these cool photos.

News Roundup: Oops

  • Belleayre’s new gondola may not have much vertical but will be more than 6,700 feet long.
  • New photo tours of the upcoming Orange and White lines in La Paz show how gondolas can be adapted to the urban landscape with innovative station designs.
  • Urban gondolas were profiled prominently in Sunday’s New York Times.
  • Skytrac will finish the Stagecoach lift at Big Sky this fall, a project which Moonlight Basin began in 2008.  In addition, Challenger and the Tram are getting new haul ropes and Powder Seeker a chair storage facility.  Thanks William Bryan for the photos.
  • At Spanish Peaks, the Flatiron lift will be next to go in.
  • BMF drops one of the Brest Cable Car’s cabins from a crane while performing annual maintenance.  One-cabin operation will continue while Gangloff builds a new one over the next six to nine months.
  • Taos releases renderings of its re-imagined learning center featuring new Leitner-Poma and Skytrac lifts.
  • Thank you Michael Weise for these sweet photos of Eldora’s six-pack progress:

Instagram Tuesday: Sky

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

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