Instagram Tuesday: Winter is Coming

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

Jobs that involve adrenaline don't get old #flyday #photography #helicopter #heliquest #kmax #skilift #whitewater #wh2o

A post shared by Coulter Austin (@coulter_a_photography) on

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Big Sky Quietly Adds 27th Lift

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The Stagecoach lift stands partially completed with Lone Peak looming in June 2016. After two owners, two bankruptcies, two names, two installers and almost a decade, it will open this winter at Moonlight Basin.

We’ve heard little about the two lift projects surrounding Lone Peak this summer, even though they will bring North America’s largest contiguous ski complex to a record 43 lifts before counting carpets.  As I covered before, the biggest development is at the Yellowstone Club, where a new Doppelmayr gondola, high-speed quad and triple chair will create one of the largest beginner skiing facilities in America, though few will be lucky enough to learn to ski there.

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Most of the towers for Big Sky’s Stagecoach lift flew October 10, 2008. Skytrac recently installed the rest and a lot happened in between.

Over at Big Sky Resort, anyone with a ticket to the Biggest Skiing in America will be able to ride the new Stagecoach double chair this winter.  Stagecoach extends the long tradition of so-called lodging access lifts here, begun with Pony Express in 1995 and followed by White Otter, Cascade, arguably all five of the Spanish Peaks lifts, and most recently Little Thunder.  Amazingly, almost half of the 43 lifts on Lone Peak and the surrounding mountains exist to create ski-in, ski-out real estate.  At Big Sky Resort, most of these machines are seconds from other Boyne mountains and they have their own color on the trail map: purple.

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Can you find it?  The approximate location of the new Stagecoach lift on the expansive Big Sky trail map is marked in red.

In the five years prior to the real estate bubble bursting nationwide in 2008, a crazy 18 lifts were built in Big Sky at four separate ski operations.  One of those, Moonlight Basin, opened in December 2003 as Lone Peak’s second public ski resort.  The development’s first two lifts had simply connected to neighboring Big Sky Resort in 1994 and 1995. Between 2003 and 2006, founder Lee Poole and his partners went it alone, adding four more lifts including Montana’s first six-pack.  Three of these were among the last CTECs off the line following the Doppelmayr merger.

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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: Construction

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

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News Roundup: Opponents

News Roundup: $4.6 Billion

News Roundup: Building

  • talk six-packs with the Vail Daily.
  • Heavenly’s Comet Express remains closed following a Jan. 1st rope evacuation, apparently due to a gearbox issue.  This is one of the reasons Vail Resorts is replacing its fleet of 1980s-vintage detachable quads.
  • Doppelmayr and the United Nations are hosting a week-long urban mobility ropeway class in April.
  • The New York Times tells the tale of Big Sky Resort.
  • Ski patroller severely injured in fall from chair at Terry Peak.
  • Gondola proposed to serve airport in Vietnam’s congested largest city.
  • BC Parks considers a gondola to Mt. Seymour to alleviate parking and traffic problems.
  • Ski Area Management‘s lift construction survey dropped this week.  Highlights from its outlook for 2017:
    • “We’re off to a strong year for ’17, there are lots of people asking about lifts…It’s very positive compared to the previous two years.” – Jon Mauch, Senior Sales Manager at Leitner-Poma
    • “There’s a lot of enthusiasm about what could happen under a Trump administration.  People expect deregulation and a more business-friendly climate.” – Mark Bee, President at Doppelmayr USA
    • “We’re seeing lots of requests quotes, lots of major modifications and retrofits…It’s all being driven by the age of the existing lift infrastructure.” – Carl Skylling, General Manager at Skytrac
    • I’ve already identified 29 new lifts likely to be built in 2017, pacing well above the last few years for mid-January.
  • Slovakian manufacturer Tatralift debuts its third detachable lift using a Wopfner grip.  That makes seven companies capable of building a detachable lift globally – BartholetBMHRI (China), Doppelmayr/Garaventa (Austria), LeitnerPoma (Italy), LST (France), STM (Turkey) and Tatralift (Slovakia.)

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Instagram Tuesday: Blue

Every Tuesday, we feature our favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

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First Look at Big Sky’s Powder Seeker Six and Challenger 2.0

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Powder Seeker will be the Rockies’ first six-passenger chairlift with bubbles and heated seats when it debuts this winter.

Lone Peak is a happening place this November as crews from Doppelmayr USA and Big Sky Resort work to finish not one, but two of America’s largest new lifts this year.  I’ve been following these projects since April, when the aging Lone Peak triple and Challenger double chairlifts were torn down to make way for new versions that will greet lucky guests when the snow flies.  Mike Unruh, Director of Mountain Operations at Big Sky, kindly gave me a sneak peak of the shiny new lifts today.

Powder Seeker

A six-pack dubbed Powder Seeker is the new the crown jewel of Big Sky’s 26-lift fleet, with blue bubbles, heated seats and headrests.  Servicing the above treeline terrain in the Bowl, Powder Seeker is just over 2,600′ long with 14 towers and an 823′ vertical rise.  With a 6.1 meter line gauge and 45 mm haul rope, it should be able to spin through all but the harshest Montana winds.  In addition to a chair parking rail that will eventually be enclosed, the Uni-G-M stations feature tire banks that can raise hydraulically to park chairs.  Thirty-one carriers will go on the line initially; Big Sky also bought two spares and can add more as as needed.

The lower station features Chairkit gates, 90-degree loading, an AC prime mover, Doppelmayr-Lohmann gearbox and two Cummins diesel backups.  The seat heating system can be seen in the pictures above with yellow charging rails and black contacts attached to the DT grips.  Another cool feature is a headset in the motor room connected to the lift’s phone system so that mechanics will be able to hear communications, like a helicopter pilot can.

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Instagram Tuesday: Steel

Every Tuesday, we pick our favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

Woven steel. #engineer #steel#cable#geometric #patterns #metal #ocd #gondola #cablecar #ski #mountains #france

A post shared by David Hill (@davidhillphotos) on

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