- With energy at a premium in Europe, Leitner showcases technology which regulates the speed of a ropeway based on rider demand.
- The nonprofit which has been running Big Squaw says the sale to Big Moose Development still hasn’t been completed and this season will continue as normal.
- Sugarbush confirms a Heaven’s Gate replacement is in the works but it won’t happen in 2023 as lift prices surge and lead times increase.
- Ropeway pioneer Willy Garaventa dies at the age of 88.
- Los Angeles releases the Environmental Impact Statement for the Dodger Stadium gondola project.
- Names for the five new Skytracs at Jack Frost Big Boulder are: Blue Heron, Harmony, Paradise, Pocono and Tobyhanna.
- Groupe Le Massif remains interested in acquiring Mont-Sainte-Anne from Resorts of the Canadian Rockies and would also be open to acquiring Stoneham as part of a deal.
- After multiple years of construction, Ontario’s Mt. Baldy finally has a new chairlift.
- Mount Snow will sell more double, triple and quad chairs for charity.
- New York’s Attorney General sues the owners of Labrador Mountain and Song Mountain, alleging their purchase and closure of nearby Toggenburg was anti-competitive. Former Toggenburg/current Greek Peak owner John Meier agreed to pay the State $195,000 and will cooperate in the case against Labrador and Song’s parent company.
- The Governor of Utah throws his support behind the Little Cottonwood gondola project.
- A new document shows where Mammoth’s relocated Panorama Gondola and new Big Bend chairlift would run as part of the Evolving Main project.
- The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania again seeks an operator to revive the Denton Hill Ski Area.
Big Squaw Mountain
News Roundup: ConnX
- Leitner unveils a prototype dual mode transport system which combines ropeway technology with autonomous driving.
- Developer Perry Williams still expects to purchase Big Squaw, Maine in the coming months and will change the mountain’s name. Chairs from the former Thompson double are being auctioned.
- New York State resorts saw a 27 percent increase in visits last season with four million skier days.
- Interior BC ski areas again face being cut off from their largest markets, this time due to floods. Sasquatch Mountain Resorts postpones its opening day due to the State of Emergency.
- More than 12,000 people sign a petition asking Whistler Blackcomb to require proof of vaccination for riding gondolas.
- Park City won’t run Eaglet this winter.
- The State of New Hampshire says a replacement Cannon Tram could carry 100 passengers and cost between $24 and 32 million.
- Wachusett’s owners explored purchasing a bubble six pack and made an offer for Jay Peak last year.
- Another great podcast with the legend himself – James Niehues.
- A local newspaper traces the history of the first chairlift and gondola on the West Coast, both located at Sugar Bowl.
- Catamount’s new trail map shows the locations of two new lifts.
- The new Grand Targhee map shows where the Peaked Mountain lift will go next year.
- Attitash introduces a completely new trail map.
- Gunstock will host an open house tomorrow to unveil its new master plan.
- Florida investors propose leasing and operating long-closed Cuchara in Colorado.
News Roundup: RFP
- The European Union will pay French ski operators up to 49 percent of lost revenue from this winter.
- Ober Gatlinburg’s tram closes for two months for track rope and drive replacement projects totaling $4.5 million.
- Bluewood’s general manager explains why fixing a 43 year old lift still makes sense for the mountain vs. buying a new one.
- The Burke Mountain and Jay Peak receiver says in a court filing the mountains are “desperately in need of liquidity” while battling financial services giant Raymond James.
- Whiteface issues a request for proposals to replace the Bear double with a fixed grip quad starting lower in the base area.
- Kelly Canyon’s new Skytrac will be a triple reaching 600 feet beyond the top of Chair 2.
- With one Doppelmayr gondola finished but never opened to the public and another partially complete, Icy Strait Point removes all booking availability until April of 2022.
- Skiland performs a rope evacuation of the northernmost chairlift in the Americas.
- The National Ski Areas Association updates its lift safety fact sheet.
- Mission Ridge isn’t done with On the Way Up just yet! Episode 18 explores the parking system and more.
- At a leadership forum in Park City, Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory says his company will invest $200 million on capital improvements this year and plans to build the Squaw-Alpine gondola.
- We also learned Deer Valley is in talks with Mayflower Mountain Resort about shared access.
- Rusty next joined the Storm Skiing Podcast, confirming the Ikon Pass will add at least one new resort for 21-22.
- Vail Resorts slashes Epic Pass prices by 20 percent.
- Developers say the Moosehead Mountain project is “moving fast” with a lift to be ordered as soon as May for completion late this year.
- Two more days until Snow King’s Summit double stops for good to make way for a gondola, though the Forest Service’s Record of Decision has not been signed and litigation looms.
- Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry confirms it’s investigating last weekend’s chair fall at Camelback but does not expect to make the report public.
News Roundup: Ramping Up
- Northeast gems Saddleback and Waterville Valley join the Indy Pass coalition, effective immediately.
- Winter Park Resort looks for the Forest Service’s blessing to replace multiple lifts.
- The Forest Service fully approves Keystone’s Bergman Bowl project.
- Welch Village voluntarily withdraws the East Quad from service following an unspecified incident (now back open).
- Guests of Mission Ridge love the Wenatchee Express and here’s the final episode of On the Way Up.
- Spirit Mountain lends a hand to repair the chairlift at nearby Chester Bowl.
- A girl is okay after falling from a Mohawk Mountain chairlift.
- A child also falls from a lift at Saddleback.
- Skyline at Pebble Creek is partially rope evacuated.
- Lookout Pass eyes 2022 for new lifts servicing Eagle Peak.
- More reports of stellar seasons from Iowa, New York and Pennsylvania.
- Cabins return to the Sea to Sky Gondola with more on the way.
- Mt. Bohemia considers building a lift in the Haunted Valley.
- Timberline Lodge closes for three days following a messy ice storm.
- Once a cartel hub, Medellín is a city transformed in part by a modern gondola network.
- Waterville Valley President and General Manager Tim Smith discusses a future gondola, bubble six pack and other lift changes.
- A rider who fell into a net along with another passenger and lift operator sues Snow King Mountain.
- Murray Ridge secures a six figure grant to rehabilitate one of the world’s longest T-Bars.
- MND reports revenue fell 5 percent in the second half of 2020 ($20.7 million in sales came from snowmaking and lifts.)
- Aspen will delay the Silver Queen Gondola‘s summer opening to complete big ticket maintenance items.
- Doppelmayr’s latest Wir magazine explores the Eiger Express.
- Saddleback closes for a day to shorten the haul rope on the new Rangeley quad.
- Poma will build an eight station urban gondola system in Madagascar with 274 cabins.
- Parent company Dream Unlimited says Arapahoe Basin is on track for its second best financial year ever despite opening four weeks late.
- Just two weeks to go until old lifts start coming down to make way for new ones.
- Squaw will experiment metering skiers at gates to avoid long lift lines at Silverado.
- The world’s largest urban gondola network might add four more lines.
- Big Squaw reopens tomorrow, two weeks after this deropement.
- A gondola is no longer a core component of the Oakland Athletics’ planned new stadium.
- There’s talk of building a 7,000 vertical foot gondola on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Chair Pileup Shutters Big Squaw
Multiple chairs slipped this afternoon at Maine’s Big Squaw Mountain, necessitating a rope evacuation of the Donaher triple. Pictures show at least three groups of chairs spaced at abnormal intervals on the light side of the lift. Sam Shirley was on the triple chair at the time and provided me with the below account and pictures.
“I was riding the triple at Big Squaw around 1:00 when I noticed chairs coming down which had slid into each other. About two minutes later, the lift stopped. We were told that there was a partial derailment on the downhill side near the summit (likely tower 9 or 10). I’m not sure what caused the chairs to slide into each other or why the lift didn’t stop immediately. Maybe they were catching in something or hitting a tower. Everyone was evacuated by rope within an hour and the staff did a great job. They had three different teams evacuating people. We were given vouchers to use later in the season.”Sam Shirley
Donaher is a 1986 Borvig triple rising 587 vertical feet. An organization called Friends of Squaw Mountain operates the lift on a nonprofit basis. Back in 2004, another chair-slipping incident caused multiple injuries on the Thompson double. In that case, one of the chairs fell to the ground rather than remaining on the rope. The Stadeli-built lift never reopened but a Louisiana-based investor recently joined with a Maine developer in hopes of revitalizing the mountain with new lifts, a hotel and summer activities.
Thankfully there were no injuries reported today. It was only the mountain’s fourth day operating this season due to snow conditions and the lift opened later than normal because of cold temperatures. Big Squaw will remain closed at least through the holiday weekend.
Could Another Maine Mountain Stage a Comeback?
The mostly defunct Big Squaw Mountain would transform into Moosehead Lake Resort under a new plan by a Maine developer and nonprofit partner. The $75 million project would include a new summit quad chairlift, snowmaking system, a day lodge, hotel and summer activities. “Moosehead Lake Ski Resort and the Greenville area represent one of the only true Four Season resort venues in all of New England,” notes Big Lake Development, LLC, which seeks to purchase the resort from current owner James Confalone. Confalone was ordered by a court judge to restore the mountain to operating condition last year. Maine developer Perry Williams is behind the rebirth plan along with Provident Resources Group of Louisiana. Provident specializes in “mission-based business activities” in the housing, education and health care sectors. “Combining a family friendly ski experience with a high quality, big lake experience will be a unique product in the New England resort industry,” notes the company.
Big Squaw Mountain first opened in 1963 and passed through numerous owners over the decades including the Scott Paper Company and State of Maine. In 2004, while under the ownership of Confalone, the mountain’s Stadeli double suffered an accident which injured four skiers. The lift never reopened, rendering the summit inaccessible. Currently a local nonprofit operates the mountain’s lower mountain triple on weekends when natural snow permits. With the rebuild, that lift would remain in addition to the new summit lift and a connector surface lift between the two base areas.
The vision in many ways mimics the story of Saddleback, which a Boston-based impact investing group began rebuilding last spring. At Moosehead, Big Lake Development would finance its project with bonds from the Finance Authority of Maine. If successful, the group could reopen skiing from the 3,196 foot summit of Big Moose Mountain in late 2022.
News Roundup: Black Friday
- The Town of Jackson keeps on fighting against recently-approved Snow King Mountain improvements.
- A new round of engagement asks the public to choose between three routes for the Burnaby Mountain 3S.
- The State of Maine prevails in a lawsuit against Big Squaw owner James Confalone, who is ordered to pay a fine and restore the mountain.
- Snowhaven, Idaho will sit this winter out due to Covid.
- Ski Magazine ranks the top lift systems in the country.
- Europe is divided on whether ski resorts should open.
- Park advocates oppose a Dodger Stadium gondola.
- Interalpin, the biennial mountain technology trade show, is canceled for 2021.
- Here’s a Mont-Sainte-Anne gondola update.
News Roundup: Perfect
- Squaw Valley President and COO Ron Cohen explains why the resort’s name is changing and gives an update on the Squaw-Alpine gondola.
- The other Squaw ski area will not be changing names.
- Whitefish cuts the line for its future Hellroaring lift.
- Icy Strait Point, home to two new Doppelmayr gondolas, is in the running for Global Cruise Port of the Year.
- Nitehawk commences fundraising to replace its destroyed chairlift, though the community ski area may only be able to afford a T-Bar.
- Jay Peak reopens its tram tomorrow with freshly-slipped track ropes.
- The public is asked to weigh in on three Burnaby Mountain Gondola alignments.
- Red Mountain becomes the eighth Ikon Pass destination in Canada.
- Big Snow’s reopening first chair goes up empty in honor of the more than 14,000 New Jerseyans who have died from Covid.
- The first lifts at Mayflower Mountain Resort are now set to open in 2023 instead of 2021. A new project video suggests it will be worth the wait.
- Mad River Glen will get a James Niehues trail map if fundraising efforts succeed.
- Granby Ranch gets a new owner and operator.
- The Perfect family has pumped more than $13 million into Timberline Mountain this offseason, including the two new chairlifts which are 75 percent complete.
News Roundup: Shutdown
- The Jay Peak receiver hires an investment bank to market Vermont’s northernmost resort to potential buyers.
- Now flying at Copper Mountain: the world’s longest bubble chair. Down to five new ski lifts that have yet to open this season in the United States.
- The government shutdown coincides terribly with Hurricane Ridge’s ski season, which can’t start without funding for the National Park Service.
- Alpine Media Technology launches digital signage on lifts at Steamboat with more Alterra resorts to follow.
- Many North American resorts enjoyed a banner holiday week.
- Vail Resorts North American skier visits are up 16.9 percent through January 6th.
- Killington applies for permission to replace the North Ridge chairlift with a fixed grip quad.
- The BBC traces the global rise of urban gondolas.
- A Maine county joins the state in suing the owner of Big Squaw Mountain for failing to operate the resort, which once was the second largest in Vacationland.
- The Lift 1 Corridor Project heads to Aspen voters March 5th.
- Arizona Snowbowl closes Agassiz for a mid season gearbox replacement.
- Elk Ridge, Arizona won’t operate for the second season in a row, leaving just three ski areas in the state.
- Attitash’s Summit triple is still closed.
- So are two of Pajarito’s main lifts indefinitely.
- The 2018 Olympic Downhill venue – gondolas, high speed quads and all – may be returned to a natural state.
- Lawyers for The Hermitage Club seek more time to respond to a lawsuit filed by investors who helped purchase the Barnstormer bubble chairlift.
- Santo Domingo, the largest city in the Dominican Republic, solicits bids for its third and fourth urban gondola sections with hourly capacities of 6,000 and 4,500, respectively.
- Scott Pierpont retires as Vice President of Sales at Doppelmayr USA and is succeeded by Shawn Marquardt.
- Glenwood Caverns’ old gondola is already rising again in southern Illinois.
- Last month’s lift evacuation at Whitefish got worldwide media attention. The Flathead Beacon digs into why the mountain was so well prepared for the situation.
News Roundup: Public vs. Private
- After a tower shifted downhill this spring, the City of Steamboat will again fix Howelsen Hill’s chairlift rather than replacing it.
- In the Jay Peak fraud case, former resort owner Ariel Quiros and executive Bill Stenger settle with the State of Vermont for $2.1 million without admitting wrongdoing.
- In a separate class action lawsuit, a group of Jay Peak investors allege more than 100 immigration lawyers received $5 million in kickbacks from the resort, creating undisclosed conflicts of interest.
- The federal government orders an immediate shutdown of the Vermont EB-5 Regional Center, which allowed foreigners to invest in ski resorts such as Jay Peak and other businesses in exchange for green cards.
- No big deal: a Chinese theme park might build three 3S gondolas.
- A lawsuit by the State of Maine seeks to finally right the tragedy that followed the sale of a public ski resort to a private company which ran it into the ground.
- Mt. Snow confirms its next logical lift upgrades will be in Sunbrook and Carinthia.
- Hermitage Club members could lease Haystack Mountain to reopen next season but Berkshire Bank will not. Homeowners may have a senior lien on the Barnstormer six-pack but would need to pay for $300,000 of lift maintenance to reopen.
- Even though his purchase of Saddleback never closed, Australian businessman Sebastian Monsour did spend $400,000 on the closed Maine ski resort last year. Hopefully some went to lift maintenance!
- Peak Resorts reports record fourth quarter revenue, up 9.3 percent over last year to $56 million with EBITDA up 3.9 percent to $21.5 million.
- Arizona Snowbowl reopens tomorrow after a month-and-a-half fire danger closure.
- Parks Canada seeks public comments on possible Sunshine Village lift and terrain expansions into Goat’s Eye II, Lower Meadow Park and Hayes Hill. Another new lift could eventually parallel the gondola.