Sun Peaks considers four possible lift projects for summer 2018, most likely being a CAD$8 million replacement of Crystal with an extended detachable. The world’s longest fixed-grip chairlift, Burfield, could be shortened with a corresponding capacity increase or new lifts added to Orient Ridge or West Morrisey.
Ski Magazine updates us on Big Sky 2025 and plans for a new tram or south side lift on Lone Peak.
Enjoy these sneak peak photos of two new quad chairs at Giants Ridge courtesy of Benjamin B.
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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.
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 allfiveof theSpanishPeaks 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.