- Keystone shows the process for creating a new trail map with next winter’s Bergman Bowl expansion.
- The Balsams redevelopment notches another necessary approval.
- Alta Sierra closes for weeks due to storm impacts.
- Salt Lake City prefers a 2034 Olympics over 2030.
- Troll, BC shows off 30 new runs to be serviced by a new T-Bar.
- Loon previews its expansion on South Peak.
- A man dies after falling from Breckenridge’s Zendo quad.
- Granite Peak rope evacuates the Blitzen triple.
- Heavenly offers a look into wind hold decision making.
- Snowbasin cancels construction of a Club Med, calling into question associated lift projects.
- Great Bear considers building a second chairlift.
- Steamboat again floats replacing the Wildhorse Gondola with a detachable version.
- Still no deal between Deer Valley and Mayflower although talks continue.
- Here’s a Cascade Skyline Gondola update.
- Vail settles a lawsuit with the family of a man who died while dangling from a chairlift in 2020.
- Doppelmayr is one of three finalists to replace Newark Airport’s automated people mover.
News Roundup: North Dakota
- Both Doppelmayr and Leitner-Poma submit preliminary proposals to connect concourses at Denver International Airport by gondola or cable-propelled train.
- Attitash rope evacuates the brand new Progression quad.
- Thrill Hills, North Dakota opens for skiing for the first time in 10 years.
- Forest Service documents show a slightly modified alignment for Breckenridge’s 5-Chair replacement.
- Property acquisition begins for the proposed Cascade Skyline Gondola.
- A county government purchase of Cannonsburg, Michigan goes on hold for now.
- North Dakota’s Bottineau Winter Park will replace its Hall T-Bar with a Doppelmayr one this summer.
- Nearing a month since a gondola incident, Mont-Sainte-Anne remains closed indefinitely.
- Bartholet will build the first major urban gondola in India with five stations and 150 cabins.
- The Durango Herald profiles Wolf Creek’s fierce independence and expansion despite not participating in any multi-mountain passes.
- Chairs go on Red Dog at Palisades Tahoe in advance of a planned mid-January opening.
News Roundup: More Than a Mechanic
- More huge lift openings this weekend: Creekside Gondola at Whistler Blackcomb, Disciples 8 at Boyne Mountain, Jordan 8 at Sunday River, Sunrise at Stowe, Wild Blue and Greenhorn Ranch Express at Steamboat and maybe Game Creek at Vail.
- Wildwood at Sundance will hopefully spin again Saturday after opening then closing due to a motor failure.
- Palisades Tahoe expects to reopen the Base to Base Gondola early next week as one continuous lift. Red Dog is delayed until January.
- The Colorado Sun looks at lift supply chain challenges.
- Cascade Mountain issues a letter to guests about delays with its lift project.
- Closed Mont-Sainte-Anne offers passholders a Stoneham season pass, a full refund, or a 15% refund and pass for once the mountain reopens.
- Jackson Hole’s owner wants to replace Sublette next.
- Mt. Shasta looks for creative solutions to uphill ingress to and egress from the new Gray Butte lift.
- Locals weigh the future of Silverton’s Kendall Mountain Ski Area.
- A child falls 20 feet from a lift at Brian Head.
- As snow and ice cripple Portland, the city’s Aerial Tram ramps up with 24 hour operations.
- Breckenridge reopens the Peak 8 SuperConnect after yesterday’s incident. Updated statement from the resort copied below.
Breckenridge Ski Resort confirms at approximately 10:35 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22, a chair dislodged from the haul rope of the Peak 8 SuperConnect as it was reaching the top terminal. One guest was on the chair at the time and fell approximately 13 feet. Ski patrol responded immediately. No injuries were reported and the guest declined further care.
The Peak 8 SuperConnect was closed for the remainder of the day on Thursday. The resort’s lift maintenance team was on site at the time of the incident and worked with the Colorado Tramway Safety Board to report the incident.
At the time of this event, the resort was following all standard operating procedures. The wind direction was predominantly favorable for operation of the Peak 8 SuperConnect when it opened for the day at 10 a.m., however an abnormal wind gust across the top terminal, in addition to the chair coming into contact with components of the upper terminal, created the circumstances of this event.
Since the event, the resort’s lift maintenance team has conducted a thorough inspection of the Peak 8 SuperConnect and consulted with the Colorado Tramway Safety Board. The lift resumed operations at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 23.
Chair Falls from High Speed Quad at Breckenridge
A quad chair detached from Breckenridge’s Peak 8 SuperConnect today as high winds buffeted the Central Rockies region. The below video shows the upbound chair came to rest just below the upper terminal. “At approximately 10:35 a.m. today, a chair dislodged from the haul rope of the Peak 8 SuperConnect as it was reaching the top terminal,” read a statement from the resort. “One guest was on the chair at the time and fell approximately 13 feet. Ski patrol responded immediately. No injuries were reported and the guest declined further care,” the statement continued. According to witnesses, other riders were slowly offloaded from the lift under normal power. Numerous upper mountain lifts were on hold at the time due to wind and cold temperatures.
The lift involved was built by Leitner-Poma in 2002 and connects Peaks 8 and 9 with three stations. There are normally 190 chairs on the line.
“We place the highest value on the safety of our guests and the Peak 8 SuperConnect will remain closed for the rest of the day,” the resort noted. “We are still actively gathering information and the lift will undergo a full inspection prior to reopening to the public.”
This is the second carrier to fall from a detachable lift in North America this season. Earlier this month, an empty gondola fell from Mont-Sainte-Anne’s gondola, an incident blamed on human error after a grip attach fault. Last season, an occupied gondola cabin fell from the Sunday River Chondola in high winds. Prior to that, a chair detachment at Camelback, Pennsylvania injured three people in March 2021.
Breckenridge Master Plan Outlines a Flurry of Lift Upgrades
America’s most-visited ski resort would get better but not bigger under a new master plan filed with the Forest Service. Breckenridge and Vail Resorts envision eight major lift projects under the plan, the first for the resort in 15 years. Over that time, Breckenridge has grown to include new terrain on Peak 6 and half a dozen new lifts. For the next few decades, Breckenridge plans to focus on upgrading infrastructure and reducing congestion in base areas rather than adding major new terrain.
The first lift project in the 2022 master plan has already been completed. The new Rip’s Ride detachable quad opened November 11th and is likely to be the first of six projects replacing Riblet lifts with new equipment. Next summer, Vail Resorts plans to retire 5-Chair for another detachable quad, featuring a capacity of 2,400 skiers per hour and a non-detachable mid-station for summer alpine slide access. “The existing lift is 50 years old, prone to misloads by beginner and novice using the lift and contributes to congestion at the base of Peak 8,” notes the plan.
In future seasons, 6-Chair will also be replaced by a detachable quad, marking the end of the Riblet era on Peak 8. This project has already been approved by the Forest Service and is a common wish list item for advanced skiers. One or two additional chairlifts may eventually be added to Peak 8 near the top of Rip’s Ride. “These two lifts would create a small amount of additional novice and beginner capacity on the mountain while providing an opportunity for new skiers and riders to experience purpose-built beginner terrain that allows for progression in a separate pod from the congested Peak 8 base area,” notes the document. Finally at the base of Peak 8, a new gondola is planned to connect the current Gold Rush parking lot with the BreckConnect Gondola. This extremely short lift would be built in partnership with timeshare company Breckenridge Grand Vacations as part of a planned real estate development.
More than 40 percent of Breckenridge skiers arrive at Peak 9 and the 2022 master plan includes multiple projects to improve skier circulation. A new 4,800 foot gondola code named Frontier would load at the base of Peak 9 and cross over the Quicksilver Super6, terminating at a new mid-mountain ski school facility. This 8 or 10 passenger gondola could move 2,200 skiers per hour both uphill and downhill along a 4,800 foot slope length. The Frontier teaching area would feature two new conveyor lifts away from the congested Peak 9 base. The concept is similar to other recent mid-mountain learning centers at Steamboat, Jackson Hole and Big Sky.
A second beginner-focused project on Peak 9 would see A-Chair replaced by a shorter, re-aligned quad chair. This lift would better serve novice skiers with a throughput of 2,000 skiers per hour. C-Chair, another Riblet, is also earmarked for replacement. A six person detachable would both load and unload slightly higher than the existing lift and span 5,862 feet. A 3,000 passenger hour capacity would help spread guests out and keep them on the mountain rather than returning to base areas. Higher on Peak 9, E-Chair is also slated for replacement with a detachable quad in the existing alignment. Quicksilver may also be upgraded in during the plan period as it is nearing the end of its useful life.
As always, Forest Service acceptance of a master plan does not constitute approval of specific projects. Rather, the 2022 plan offers a road map for possible future improvements at Breckenridge. By 2023, the resort will have completed seven major lift projects in 11 years. With that track record and a menu of future projects, Vail Resorts is likely to continue investing in lifts at Breck in seasons to come.
News Roundup: Game Creek
- Indy Pass adds Calabogie Peaks and Loch Lomond, Ontario; Arctic Valley, Alaska and Mt. Crescent, Iowa plus more allied resorts.
- In Tennessee, Skyland Ranch will open November 11th with a brand new combination chairlift/gondola.
- Windham Mountain acquires 450 acres, hires SE Group to craft a master plan for Eastward expansion.
- Rusty Gregory, Stephen Kircher and Mike Kaplan talk recession, climate change and resilience at a virtual event.
- Montana Snowbowl’s new Skytrac will be called Transporter.
- Snowriver introduces a website and logo.
- Breckenridge will sell 85 double chairs from Rip’s Ride for charity.
- All systems are go for Kimberley’s Northstar Express to reopen this season.
- Cannon Mountain warns a big increase in energy costs will lead to higher prices this winter.
- Ober Gatlinburg becomes Ober Mountain with a new owner, new President and capital investments to come.
- Blue Mountain’s trail map shows the location of the the new Main Street Express.
- The Highlands closes Heather Express for the season early due to mechanical problems.
- Doppelmayr plans to build Mexico City’s new six-station gondola line in just 15 months.
- Season four of the Ski Utah podcast debuts with an episode all about the Snowbird Tram’s modernization.
- Eaglecrest chooses an alignment for its used gondola.
- Thanks to reader Mark for these great photos of projects nearing completion on Vail Mountain.
Vail Resorts to Install Deferred Park City Lifts at Whistler Blackcomb
In its earnings report today, Vail Resorts announced new six and eight passenger lifts will be built at Whistler Blackcomb in 2023, replacing the aging Jersey Cream and Fitzsimmons high speed quads. The project will utilize Doppelmayr equipment originally purchased for Park City Mountain but not installed due to a successful permit appeal by four local residents. On Blackcomb Mountain, Jersey Cream will become a six passenger detachable and on Whistler Mountain, Vail Resorts’ first eight place D-Line will replace the Fitzsimmons Express. Jersey Cream services the heart of Blackcomb’s mid mountain and Fitzsimmons provides out-of-base capacity to Whistler Mountain along with servicing the world’s largest bike park. Jersey Cream capacity will increase 29 percent and Fitzsimmons capacity will jump 73 percent. Fitz will also become the first eight place and first D-Line in Canada.
The two lifts were originally slated to become Eagle and Silverlode, respectively, at Park City. Vail said it remains “committed to resolving our permit” for the new Park City lifts in the future. “When that happens, we plan to purchase the lifts and equipment needed,” the company said. Vail Resorts appealed the permit revocation in July but no resolution has been reached. Due to continued uncertainty, lift equipment was placed in storage in Utah over the summer and will be re-engineered and modified for Whistler Blackcomb. An intermediate unloading station built for Eagle likely won’t be utilized in Whistler. Despite the Park City situation, 18 other lifts that are part of the 2022 Epic Lift Upgrade are proceeding on schedule, including two at Whistler Blackcomb.
“We are excited to continue investing in the guest experience here at Whistler Blackcomb, and the opportunity to upgrade the Fitzsimmons Express and Jersey Cream chairlifts reinforces our commitment to excellence, especially as a world-class destination resort,” said Geoff Buchheister, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Whistler Blackcomb. “Following approvals and installation, these upgrades will reduce lift line wait times and create easier access and flow for all who visit our beautiful mountains,” he continued.
The Whistler Blackcomb projects bring Vail Resorts to at least six new lifts for 2023, including three previously announced investments and the delayed Keystone Bergman Bowl expansion. In July, Vail unveiled plans to replace Summit at Attitash, 5-Chair at Breckenridge and Kehr’s Chair at Stevens Pass for 2023. The Attitash and Breckenridge projects will be detachable quads while Stevens Pass will see a fixed grip quad. Manufacturer(s) for those lifts have not been announced. At Keystone, Bergman Bowl will feature a six passenger Leitner-Poma detachable.
Vail also reported season pass sales increased approximately 6 percent in units and 7 percent in sales dollars through September 24th as compared to a year ago. However, full Epic and Epic Local unlimited season pass sales declined roughly 10 percent. The company’s total 2023 capital plan is expected to total $191 million to $196 million, significantly less than this year’s $323 to $333 million. Those numbers reflect approximately $10 million in capital deferred from 2022 to 2023 as a result of the Park City and Keystone lift delays.
In addition to the six 2023 lift projects, Vail also plans to debut new technology allowing guests to use phones as lift passes via Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity next season.
Vail Resorts to Build New Lifts at Attitash, Breckenridge & Stevens Pass in 2023
Vail Resorts today released quarterly financial results and previewed three signature lift installations for 2023 construction season. The newly-announced projects will follow the record 21 new lifts currently under construction as part of the 2022 Epic Lift Upgrade.
Season pass sales are trending up for the 2022-23 season, increasing approximately 9 percent in units and 11 percent in sales dollars from the year prior as of May 31st. This past season, approximately 72 percent of all Vail Resorts 2021/2022 North American skier visitation was on a pass product. The company noted visitation on weekday and non-holiday periods increased approximately 8 percent last season while visitation on weekend and holiday periods decreased 3 percent, excluding Peak Resorts visitation in both periods. “We believe this trend is driven by the growth in pass sales as pass holders tend to spread their visitation more across the season, and, with the increase in flexible and remote work, we expect this trend to continue,” the company said. Vail is continuing to build new lifts across its portfolio in an effort to increase capacity and improve the ski experience.
Attitash skiers will be thrilled to learn the Summit triple is slated for replacement in 2023. A detachable quad will increase uphill capacity and reduce ride time on the longest lift at the resort. Attitash is also getting a fixed grip quad this summer to replace the mountain’s Borvig double doubles. When both projects are complete, five of Attitash’s seven chairlifts will be quads.
At Breckenridge, 5-Chair will be replaced by a detachable quad in 2023. Redevelopment of the Peak 8 base area will include new teaching terrain and a transport carpet to make the beginner experience more accessible. The new 5-Chair combined with a new Rip’s Ride being constructed this summer will mean all five lifts at the Peak 8 base will be detachable.
Finally at Stevens Pass, a fixed grip quad will replace Kehr’s chair, a Riblet dating back to 1964. This is the third new chairlift for Vail Resorts at Stevens and will improve out-of-base capacity.
Vail is investing approximately $320 million across its resorts this season for improvements. “Vail Resorts will have invested over $2 billion in capital since launching the Epic Pass, increasing capacity, improving the guest experience and creating an integrated resort network,” the company noted. Additional calendar year 2023 investments and upgrades will be announced in the coming quarters.
News Roundup: American Rescue Plan
- Moosehead Mountain’s redevelopment is pushed back to 2023 at the earliest.
- Deer Valley moves toward replacing the Silver Lake Express, possibly with a gondola.
- A proposed development adjacent to Big Sky Resort includes a pulse gondola and two platter lifts.
- Whiteface’s new quad is named Warhorse.
- Snow King’s new gondola opens tomorrow but not for skiing.
- The first pieces of Waterville Valley’s Bartholet/MND six pack arrive stateside.
- A new map shows where Caberfae Peaks’ East Peak triple will go.
- Attitash permanently closes the West Double Double to “prep for it being replaced.”
- Mountain Capital Partners unveils a concept plan for 19 new lifts across thousands of acres at Brian Head.
- The Forest Service green lights construction of Mt. Hood Meadows’ first six pack.
- Breckenridge celebrates 60 years of massive growth.
- Bartholet plans to build its first RopeTaxi with cabins departing on demand in 2022.
- Cannon will seek American Rescue Plan funds for tram overhaul/replacement, possibly as early as 2023.
- Blacktail Mountain joins the Indy Pass.
- A video shows a loaded lift roll back in Kyrgyzstan.
News Roundup: Retirements
- Snow Ridge, NY retires its Snowy Meadows double in favor of a conveyor.
- Ditto for the J-Bar at Suicide Six, Vermont.
- The San Francisco Chronicle checks in on Sierra at Tahoe‘s recovery.
- An electrician is hospitalized following a possible lightning strike at Cypress Mountain.
- An anti-gondola candidate is elected mayor of the town where a Little Cottonwood Gondola would begin.
- A local author tells the story of how a hodgepodge of used chairlifts set the stage for Big Sky’s cutting edge lifts.
- The Italian tram car involved in last May’s deadly incident is removed from the mountain by helicopter.
- The Breckenridge Town Council approves a plan for the Breckenridge Grand Vacations gondola and stipulates its developer must choose a detachable model.
- Sun Peaks Resort won’t operate the West Bowl T-Bar for the second year in a row.
- Reopening Hickory, NY intends to operate all three lifts this season when snow permits.
- The Prairie Sky Gondola is officially under development in Edmonton.
- Shawnee Mountain’s next new lift will likely be a fixed quad replacing the double–double.
- Prague looks to build an urban 3S gondola with three stations.
- Discussions continue regarding the future of the aging Telluride-Mountain Village gondola system.
- Palisades Tahoe confirms the new base-to-base gondola won’t open this winter.
- Aspen Snowmass ups its minimum wage to $17 for hourly employees and $50,000 for salaried workers.
- Brundage says new lifts and terrain are coming, though specifics are pending.
- Loon Mountain gets ready to welcome guests aboard the new Kanc 8.