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Big Sky to Transform Base-to-Summit Lift Experience

The final chapter of Big Sky 2025 will be the largest yet, with a new gondola and tram connecting Big Sky Resort’s Mountain Village to Lone Peak. This multi-year project will cement Big Sky as a leader in lift technology among North American resorts.

Big Sky embarked on the 2025 initiative six years ago to enhance the mountain experience with a focus on lifts and dining. Boyne Resorts partnered with Doppelmayr to bring North America’s first eight place and fastest six place chairlifts to Big Sky in 2018 and 2021 and now the companies will build two more signature lifts leading up to 2025.

A new Explorer Gondola will load at the north end of the village and replace Big Sky’s last remaining original Heron-Poma lift which turns 50 next year. Together with Ramcharger 8 and Swift Current 6, three high capacity D-Line lifts will all load in the village. An intermediate gondola station will house a new ski school center and underground parking for cabins. This station will also include a direct drive powering both gondola haul ropes via a double-grooved bullwheel. Cabins will turn 22 degrees before ascending to a second new lodge near the top of Big Sky’s original Gondola One. Unlike Boyne Resorts’ five other D-Line lifts, the Explorer Gondola will feature squared glass enclosures, matching the style of the new tram stations and Bowl restaurant. The architecture alone will be unlike anything else in North American skiing.

Garaventa will build the reconfigured Lone Peak Tram, which will start at the new mid-mountain hub and operate year round. Large cabins will pass one tower before arriving at a glass-enclosed terminal at 11,166 feet. The new tram will be nearly twice as long as the current one but also faster and more capable.

“The new lift system from the base area to the summit of Lone Peak will revolutionize the way we access ‘America’s Matterhorn’ in both winter and summer,” said Big Sky Resort president and COO Taylor Middleton. “In creating this must-do experience accessible to all, we will offer the premier high-alpine experience on Montana’s highest scenic overlook.” Although tram cabins will be able to accommodate more passengers at once than the current 15 person tram, Big Sky plans to carefully manage throughput depending on conditions and season.

“We couldn’t think of a more significant and emblematic series of initiatives to close out the transformation we’re accomplishing with the Big Sky 2025 vision,” noted Stephen Kircher, CEO and president of Boyne Resorts. “Coupling a truly world-class tram experience with the most architecturally thoughtful on-mountain food and beverage and Mountain Sports facilities will set a new standard for mountain communities in North America. This innovative project will kick off an exciting new chapter in transforming the future of tourism in Big Sky and across southwest Montana, and sets the stage for planning Big Sky’s next steps.”

Construction will begin this summer although a project of this size will take multiple construction seasons to complete. The current Lone Peak Tram and Explorer lifts will remain in service throughout the process with the new tram set for completion in Fall 2023.

Gondola Coming to Moonlight Basin

Ultra-luxe hotel brand One&Only has announced plans to build its first United States property adjacent to Big Sky Resort. The development will include 73 hotel rooms, 19 villas and 62 private homes in the Lee’s Poole section of Moonlight Basin. A detachable gondola will link the One&Only ski lodge to the existing Madison base area on acreage owned by Lone Mountain Land Company. “One&Only Moonlight Basin will be connected by gondola to Big Sky’s world-class skiing with over 5,800 skiable acres, and will provide access to unparalleled mountain golf courses, and limitless outdoor opportunities,” said One&Only and Lone Mountain Land in a joint press release. “This new, secluded One&Only will showcase Montana’s mountains, unsurpassed scenery, and abundant wildlife, while providing every modern amenity, making the remote retreat a truly exclusive experience.”

The two-way gondola will span approximately 3,500 feet with a modest vertical rise of about 200 feet. Renderings suggest a Doppelmayr lift with Omega V cabins, though no supplier was specified.

Formed in 2014, Lone Mountain Land Company owns approximately 8,000 acres in Moonlight Basin as well as the Spanish Peaks development on the opposite side of Big Sky Resort. The Moonlight master plan includes up to seven additional lifts to the north and west of Lone Tree and Six Shooter.

Reservations for One&Only Moonlight Basin are expected to open in summer 2023 with the resort welcoming its first guests in 2024.

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