News Roundup: Viral Videos

Sugarloaf to Debut Bucksaw Express Next Winter

The high speed quad servicing Sugarloaf’s planned West Mountain expansion got a name today: Bucksaw Express. The moniker is a nod to the Bucksaw double, a Stadeli which served the northwest edge of the mountain from 1969 to 2015. Sugarloaf began construction on the 450 acre expansion today and it is expected to open to skiers in February 2024.

The Bucksaw Express quad will span 6,574 feet with a vertical rise of 1,433 feet. Some of the equipment for the 755 horsepower lift comes from Big Sky Resort, where it operated as the Swift Current quad. The Doppelmayr detachable will be completely overhauled with brand new UNI G enclosures and many other upgrades. With a 1,000 feet per minute line speed, the lift will move 2,400 skiers per hour up West Mountain with a ride time of just seven minutes. As part of the project, the West Mountain double will be shortened to its current mid-station. The West Mountain project will include a dozen new alpine trails covering roughly 120 acres, which will increase Sugarloaf’s total skiable acreage by nearly 10 percent.

“This is the most significant development project at Sugarloaf since the SuperQuad was built in the mid-1990s,” said Sugarloaf General Manager Karl Strand. “We’re very excited to get to work on what will be a transformative project for the resort and our guests.”

Boyne Mountain to Replace Boyneland and Superbowl Lifts

Even before the first eight place chairlift in the Midwest carries skiers up Boyne Mountain this month, two more lift projects are in the works. Next summer, Doppelmayr will replace both Boyneland and Superbowl, lifts which date back to 1995 and 1987, respectively. Boyneland will go from a fixed triple to a fixed quad and Superbowl from a fixed quad to a fixed triple.

The realigned Boyneland will load closer to the Mountain Express base area and become the gateway to family-friendly Disciples Ridge terrain. A height-adjustable loading conveyor will allow the replacement lift to operate twice as fast as the existing Borvig with a ride time of just four minutes.

Expert-focused Superbowl on the mountain’s south side will debut the fastest fixed grip chairlift in the Midwest. The new triple chair will spin at 2.5 meters per second or 492 feet per minute. Superbowl will also sport a loading carpet and the bottom terminal will shift downward to provide easier loading access. Additional space at the top will create an improved unloading experience.

Lifts are a major part of Renaissance 2030, an aggressive ten year capital improvement plan at Boyne Mountain. “These new lifts bring the latest in technology to Boyne Mountain and provide our guests with the absolute best skiing and riding experience in the Midwest,” said Jason Perl, general manager of Boyne Mountain Resort. “Better, faster lifts mean more time on the slopes, enjoying the exhilaration of the sports, and time with family and friends.” Both new lifts are expected to be complete in advance of the 2023-24 ski season.

Boyne Resorts now plans to build at least seven new lifts next year between Big Sky, Boyne Mountain, The Highlands, Loon Mountain, Sunday River and Sugarloaf. Projects run the gamut from fixed grip chairlifts at Boyne Mountain and Loon to a bubble six place at The Highlands and the all-new Big Sky tram.

Loon Mountain to Build New Lift at South Peak

Loon Mountain Resort today unveiled plans for its tenth chairlift, a quad servicing 30 acres of new terrain on South Peak. The expansion will feature a Doppelmayr Alpenstar fixed grip lift with loading conveyor, a guest service facility and fully automated snowmaking. This will increase Loon’s beginner terrain by over 50 percent and bring the resort above 400 acres total. Initial work is already underway and the long-awaited expansion will open for the 2023-24 ski season.

The yet-to-be-named quad chair will load at the bottom of the existing Escape Route trail and service 500 vertical feet of beginner and low intermediate terrain. For guests looking for more advanced skiing, the new lift will also serve as a connection from parking lots in the town of Lincoln to the Lincoln Express and the rest of Loon Mountain. “Providing lift access and more skiing and riding closer to downtown Lincoln is exciting—and unique—particularly in the East,” said Brian Norton, Loon’s president and general manager. “Adding lift service just a mile and a half from Interstate 93, in the center of Lincoln, improves the guest experience immensely and is something we’ve been focused on for many years,” Norton added.

The South Peak expansion comes hot on the heels of two major lift upgrades, both part of the Flight Path: 2030 capital improvement roadmap. Kancamagus 8 opened in 2021 and a new Seven Brothers Express quad will debut this season, making the South Peak lift will Loon’s third new lift in three years. “The South Peak expansion has been a key part of Loon’s master plan for decades and we are thrilled to be moving towards the next major milestone of Flight Path: 2030,” noted Jay Scambio, COO of Boyne Resorts. Future phases of the plan include a replacement of the gondola and upgrades to the North Peak and Lincoln Express lifts.

With Loon’s announcement of South Peak expansion, Boyne Resorts is on track to build at least five new lifts across its network in 2023. Other projects include the new Lone Peak Tram at Big Sky, Camelot 6 at The Highlands, the West Mountain expansion at Sugarloaf and a Barker Mountain Express replacement at Sunday River.

The Highlands to Build First Six Place Bubble Lift in the Midwest

The fifth Boyne Resorts property to launch a D-Line detachable will be The Highlands, Michigan come 2023. Camelot 6 will include the first modern bubble chairs in the Midwest and the first fully automated safety bar system in the United States. Ergonomically designed D-Line seats will also feature heating and individual footrests. The lift will be the fastest in the Midwest with a line speed of six meters per second and ride time of just three minutes.

The flagship chairlift will replace three Riblet triples – Camelot, MacGully and Valley – all of which date back to the 1960s and the earliest days of triple chairs. Unlike the current Camelot, the new Doppelmayr will extend to the top of the Upper Camelot slope on the southern end of the mountain.

The Camelot zone features some of The Highlands’ most popular beginner and intermediate terrain adjacent to the Day Lodge. Appropriately, Camelot 6 will feature the first fully automated closing, locking and opening bar mechanisms in the US in addition to a height-adjustable loading conveyor. “We’re coming full circle in lift innovation from the world’s first bubble chairlift in 1963, to the Midwest’s first modern bubble lift with unrivaled guest comfort, speed, energy efficiency, and safety in 2023,” said Mike Chumbler, President and General Manager of The Highlands. “This will be the most kid-friendly and safest lift ever built. The addition of Camelot 6 will transform the guest experience on the southern end of our slopes for all levels of skiers and riders,” he added.

Camelot will become the fifth Boyne destination to debut Doppelmayr D-Line technology. Big Sky Resort, Boyne Mountain, Loon Mountain and Sunday River all feature six and eight passenger D-Line detachables, many with bubbles and heated seats. While Alterra, Vail Resorts and other operators have also purchased D-Line lifts, Boyne’s level of commitment to the technology remains unrivaled in North America.

Camelot 6 is the first significant on mountain investment as part of The Highlands’ Transformational Journey, a vision guiding resort growth with an array of new offerings and enhancements through the year 2030. More lift upgrades are expected to follow in the coming years.

Camelot 6 will debut for the 2023-24 ski season. Once complete, it will serve both day and evening skiers as well as becoming the primary access lift for summer sightseeing and mountain biking.

News Roundup: Town Halls

Summit at Snoqualmie Unveils Big Plans

One of Washington’s most-visited resorts today announced Summit 2030, a multi-year capital improvement push to start this summer. Reimagining The Summit is just the latest initiative by Boyne Resorts to bring its ten ski resorts into the modern era. The vision for Snoqualmie includes eight new lifts across all four base areas, enhanced summer operations, expanded snowmaking, new lodges and more. The resort has a lot of work ahead just on lift renewal with 19 chairlifts averaging 35 years old.

To start, Doppelmayr will replace the Hidden Valley double with a triple chair, enhancing capacity on the backside of Hyak for next season. The new lift will feature conveyor loading and transport 1,800 skiers per hour. “Another milestone in our plan to modernize our lift network, the new Hidden Valley Triple provides more capacity, dependability, and greatly improves access to one of most unique areas at The Summit,” said Guy Lawrence, Summit President and General Manager. The mountain also plans to open a bike park at Silver Fir this summer, add more chairs to the Armstrong Express and implement RFID ticketing this offseason.

Many more lift upgrades will follow over the next decade. At Alpental, fixed grip triple chairs are planned to replace both Sessel and Edelweiss. Perhaps most exciting will be construction of the International lift, a project first conceived decades ago. “The long-awaited International Chair at Alpental will be a fixed-grip triple dropping skiers and riders in the best spot for accessing Lower International, Snake Dance, Felson & Back Bowls, providing a whole new way to access some of the most popular terrain at Alpental,” says The Summit. Another key focus at Alpental will be installation of remote-operated avalanche control systems to open terrain faster during storm cycles.

At Summit Central, Boyne plans to replace and realign the Central Express with a larger lift. Nearby, Triple 60 is earmarked for a detachable quad. A brand new lodge, snowmaking and alpine coaster will round out improvements at Central.

Learn to ski hotspot Summit West will see replacements for workhorse lifts like Wildside and Pacific Crest as part of Summit 2030. Wildside will likely be a fixed grip quad and Pacific Crest a detachable six place.

It’s no secret Snoqualmie and other Cascades ski areas attract throngs of skiers at peak times so it’s great to see Boyne committing to major improvements in the Northwest. Not far away, Alterra has announced a similar $100 million plan for Crystal Mountain and Vail Resorts has expansion opportunities at Stevens Pass. Higher capacity lifts and more terrain at Snoqualmie will surely help meet demand for skiing in a booming region with just three ski areas.

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.

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