- Monarch Mountain purchases the nearby Monarch Crest Scenic Tramway.
- Sundance’s new quad is named Wildwood.
- Vancouver drops out of bidding for the 2030 Winter Olympics, increasing the likelihood the games will be held in Utah.
- Construction begins on the world’s longest gondola in the Caribbean.
- The Vail Daily reports on environmental deficiencies with Beaver Creek’s 2021 McCoy Park lift and terrain expansion.
- Alterra-owned Blue Mountain renames the Century Express to Valley Express with new controls, new tower heads/sheaves, new carriers, a new rope and several tower height adjustments.
- Vail continues its charity chair sale extravaganza with more from Jack Frost and Big Boulder.
- The Summit at Snoqualmie sells chairs from Hidden Valley.
- Pacific Group Resorts, Inc. closes on its acquisition of Jay Peak.
- Waterville Valley’s MND bubble lift will be called Tecumseh Express.
- The Forest Service approves Attitash’s Summit triple replacement project.
- Parts from Sunday River’s former Jordan Express are spotted at Boyne sister resort Pleasant Mountain.
- Doppelmayr reports a 16 percent increase in revenue with a particular surge in investment in North America.
- Purgatory sues the Forest Service over water rights for snowmaking.
- Cypress Mountain sues the Province of British Columbia over paid parking.
- Supply chain issues will delay the opening of Alta’s Sunnyside six pack.
News Roundup: First Chair
- Park City Mountain Resort tells elected leaders that visitation and lift wait times are flat compared to previous seasons.
- Sugarbush borrows parts from the Slide Brook Express to keep Super Bravo going. A blog post discusses lift staffing/lift maintenance and hints at future lift replacements.
- Waterville Valley shows off the first chair for its upcoming bubble lift.
- The hard work continues to repair immense damage at Sierra at Tahoe.
- Closed New York ski area Toggenburg is put up for sale.
- An unfortunate viral video shows a fight between security and Blue Mountain guests in the Orchard Express loading area over masks.
- Mt. Bachelor says the Skyliner Express will miss the entire season.
- Two Black Hawk helicopters crash land near the base of Snowbird’s Mineral Basin Express; no injuries reported.
- Despite an alleged $4.5 million theft, backers of the Mighty Argo Cable Car look to begin tower foundations as soon as this winter.
- Vancouver’s transit agency posts a Burnaby Mountain Gondola roadmap.
- A child is injured in a fall from a Camden Snow Bowl chairlift.
News Roundup: Exceptional Ride
- Blue Mountain provides younger guests with a two minute introduction to how lifts work.
- Soldier Mountain’s major midseason repair is a success.
- Whaleback gets its summit lift operational for the season after replacing bullwheel bearings.
- A crowdfunding campaign seeks to purchase Big Tupper out of foreclosure.
- Drone video shows the damage to Eaglecrest’s Ptarmigan chair (now back open).
- Two class action lawsuits proceed regarding gondola incidents at Mont-Sainte-Anne last winter.
- The girl who fell from a Sugarloaf chairlift last week makes the network morning show rounds.
- Another video shows a perfect catch of a six year old who fell from a Crested Butte triple chair.
- A boy is also uninjured after landing in a net at Diamond Peak.
- Utah legislators weigh funding a Little Cottonwood Canyon gondola amid a long list of wish list projects.
- Speaking of LCC, proponent Chris McCandless joins the Ski Utah podcast to talk gondolas.
- North America’s largest city looks to build a fourth urban gondola line in 2022.
- Bousquet Mountain debuts the Yellow triple following a delay due to six towers needing to be moved.
- Doppelmayr prepares to ship 80 containers worth of lift components from Austria to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
- Italy’s ski reopening is postponed just hours before lifts were set to spin.
- In Wisconsin, a T-Bar ski area opens for the first time in 25 years.
- Aspen Skiing Company puts the Ajax Pandora’s expansion back on the front burner.
- The first riders ascend Mission Ridge on the Wenatchee Express.
- Developers at Moosehead Lake look for up to $135 million in financing.
- For the second time this winter, the Purgatory Express is down due to technical problems.
- Two more resorts get set to join the Indy Pass next week.
- The Forest Service seeks public comments on Arapahoe Basin’s proposal to replace Lenawee with a detachable quad or six pack in 2022.
- Snow Valley blogs about its lift history and claims the world’s fastest fixed grip quad.
- Magic Mountain provides the below update on progress towards opening a third chairlift.
On the Black Quad lift front, there always seems to be something. And, the engineering firm who designed the lift has come back with quite a few changes that need to be implemented by Pfister Mountain Services, including changing out some sheave assembly wheel combinations at a few towers and a major overhaul of tower 13 cross arm and uphill sheave assembly. None of this is a quick fix at this point in our construction phase and comes as unwelcome news. And, of course, tower 13 is in a very difficult spot to get to, especially for what equipment will be needed to execute the cross arm changes. No timetable or budget as been provided as of yet. We will continue to keep you posted as news warrants. Certainly frustrating after all this time as we’d like to see our money put to good use for you. All I can say is that the Quad will be a part of our future here at Magic so we can expand uphill capacity and lift redundancy as we grow.
How Many Lifts Might Alterra Buy in 2019?
At just 15 months old, Alterra Mountain Company finds itself with over 200 chairlifts, gondolas and tramways in two countries. The 13 Alterra mountains mirror the broader ski industry with places like Deer Valley and Crystal Mountain sporting many newer lifts while the average chairlift at June Mountain is 45 years old.
On a Monday last March, the fledgling company based in Denver simultaneously unveiled its very first lift investments at Stratton, Tremblant and Winter Park along with other improvements like snowmaking at Snowshoe and a new restaurant at the base of Steamboat. Importantly, Alterra committed to spending $555 million in total capital over five years. That was before it bought Solitude and Crystal Mountain, which could mean even more money flowing over the next few construction seasons. While last year’s budget only included three new lifts, could we see more in 2019?
With the September approval of major projects by the Forest Service, Steamboat is poised for a comprehensive on-mountain transformation. Although the timing is fluid, a new Rough Rider learning center at mid-mountain will eventually be serviced by a new gondola from the village. Here, skiers and snowboarders will be able to choose from three new carpet lifts, a new and improved Bashor lift and a second fixed-grip chair replacing the Rough Rider surface tow.
A second initiative Steamboat could undertake in 2019 is the Pioneer Ridge expansion, which includes a 7,000 foot detachable quad and a dozen new trails. Other possible upgrades include adding chairs to Pony Express (currently at only 1,200 skiers per hour but designed for 2,400) or new cabins for the Silver Bullet. Wouldn’t it be cool for the new gondola and original one to have similar cabins?
The average lift at Alterra-operated Winter Park Resort is 27 years old. Six are early model detachable quads coming up for replacement. In the case of 32 year old Pioneer Express, an upgrade is overdue and I expect coming in 2019. A new version could add a snowboarder friendly mid loading station above the last section of Big Valley.
A second project I hope to see is a second stage of the new gondola from Sunspot to Lunch Rock, truly uniting Winter Park and Mary Jane. Sunnyside should be a high speed quad or six pack. A high speed replacement of Challenger would be a nice upgrade at Mary Jane. Looking Glass is tied for the oldest operating chairlift in Colorado. After Pioneer, High Lonesome is the next Poma detachable up for replacement if we go solely by age.
The above Intrawest era master plan earmarked Gemini Express to be converted into an eight passenger gondola with a new learning center surrounding its top station. Endeavor could go detachable as part of this project and/or Discovery made into a fixed grip quad. Finally, a lift is envisioned to expand Vasquez Ridge Territory with four new intermediate trails. With all of these ideas on the table, I expect Winter Park to get at least one lift in 2019 and hopefully two.
News Roundup: Stories
- Group eyes gondolas for Miami.
- Alaska’s upcoming new ski resort gets a name: Skeetawk.
- Doppelmayr joins Facebook.
- Italian snowmaking powerhouse Technoalpin enters the ski lift fray with a T-Bar in Turkey.
- Lookout Pass says 14 new runs will be cut this summer but new lifts will wait until 2019.
- Durango, Colorado advances plan to replace rope tows on Chapman Hill with a carpet and triple chair.
- Two of Hunter Mountain’s three summit lifts are down for the third day in a row.
- This week’s rope evacuation stories come from Blue Mountain (2000 Poma six-pack) and Giants Ridge (2017 Skytrac quad.)
If Aspen & KSL Go Lift Shopping, What Will They Buy?
It’s been two weeks since the bombshell news that Aspen Skiing Co. and KSL Capital Partners are joining forces to bring twelve ski resorts under a new entity rivaling Vail Resorts. While the deals won’t close for months, the new partners already say they plan to invest heavily in the guest experience. “We have earmarked a lot of capital for improvements to be able to continue to reinvest significantly in the communities and the mountains,” KSL CEO Eric Resnick told the Denver Post. “What’s exciting is being able to bring new opportunities with these communities and with these mountains to those customers who are already so passionate.” This could come in the form of new lifts ahead of the 2018-19 season and beyond. Below is a summary of announced plans and my speculation of what might be in store for KSL and Aspen’s upcoming resorts.
- Alpine Meadows, CA:
- Alpine Meadows applied for and received approval to replace the Hot Wheels chairlift in a new, longer alignment back in 2012. A mid-station offload would allow beginner and intermediate skiers to access the lower mountain while others could continue to an unload near the top of Sherwood, providing direct access to Sherwood and Lakeview. Approval for this lift likely expired in September 2015 but there’s no reason to believe Placer County would not approve it again.
- Speaking of Lakeview, it is arguably the largest remaining pod at Alpine Meadows without detachable access. This 1984 CTEC is older than Sherwood and with approximately the same vertical rise. A high-speed quad is likely to replace it eventually.
- Doppelmayr and CTEC have both built lifts at Alpine Meadows while Leitner-Poma has not. That could change with the unification of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.
- I’ve written before about the Base-to-Base Gondola which is still on the table but still requires multiple government approvals. It would traverse the White Wolf property between Squaw and Alpine with two angle stations along the way.