News Roundup: Interviews

  • The 117 year old Poconos hotel which just announced plans to build a chairlift burned down last Friday.
  • Yellowstone Club adds Silver Tip, its 18th major lift, giving YC the 13th highest lift count in the nation!
  • More awesome podcasts: Jeremy Davis of the New England Lost Ski Areas Project, Rob Katz on snowmaking across Vail Resorts, Geoff Hathaway on rebuilding Magic Mountain and the staff of Eldora on what it takes to open weeks ahead of normal.
  • Two new quads and a lift shortening are all now reflected on the Stevens Pass trail map.
  • Vandals slash upholstered seats on an Austrian gondola, cause $28,000 in damage.
  • Okemo receives a 24 month extension to its permit for building a beginner fixed grip quad at Jackson Gore.
  • Loveland gains approval to replace Lift 6 with either a fixed grip triple or detachable quad in 2021.
  • New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu tours the gorgeous new summit lodge and gondola at Bretton Woods.
  • Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory joins Bloomberg TV and Yahoo Finance to chat about opportunities he sees in the ski business.
  • The head of MND Group says financial struggles are history as the company ramps up to deliver $200 million worth of orders for lifts, Gazex and snowmaking.
  • The Forest Service plans to approve two new fixed grip quad lifts at Lee Canyon.
  • Big Sky looks for 30 more chairs for Six Shooter.
  • A Wyoming ranch with snow cat skiing considers adding lift service.
  • Chris Diamond’s new book, Ski Inc. 2020, was released last week and is a must read for those who follow North American skiing.
  • Simon Fraser University includes a 3S gondola as a core component of its new campus master plan.

News Roundup: Italian American

    • The Edmonton Ski Club and its Mueller T-Bar will reopen this winter following a one year hiatus.
    • The developer of Big Snow America is so confident in the American Dream project that it offered the Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall as collateral to secure a $2.8 billion construction loan.
    • Investors and Berkshire Bank battle over whose claim to the Hermitage six pack should take precedent.
    • The White River National Forest extends public commenting for the Breck Peak 7 Infill chairlift project to September 1st.
    • The Forest Service approved Aspen Mountain’s Pandora expansion awhile ago but the county still needs to approve necessary zoning.
    • SilverStar adds 24 hour security, surveillance cameras and enhanced line checks in the wake of the Sea to Sky Gondola downing.
    • TransLink’s CEO says the proposed Burnaby Mountain tricable gondola would be less susceptible to such an attack.
    • Grouse Mountain gives all Sea to Sky Gondola passholders free lift access through November 30th.
    • S2S cleanup will take awhile and trails remain closed for public safety.
    • Swiss manufacturer Bartholet shows it’s possible to build a new fixed quad in just three weeks.
    • Jaegerndorfer now exports Omega V cabins in miniature form to the United States.
    • Aspen Snowmass will add chairs to lifts at Highlands and Snowmass to address Ikon Pass crowding concerns.
    • Skytrac will manufacture towers for and install the new Leitner T-Bar at Ski Cooper.
    • This profile demonstrates why the Kaiser S2 excavator is so popular for ski lift construction.
    • MND Group, owner of LST Ropeways, says it has resolved “financial difficulties” by reorganizing its debt.
    • Doppelmayr names Jürgen Pichler its new global marketing chief.
    • It looks like Sunday River’s Locke Mountain triple will gain a tower or two thanks to the new T-Bar that crosses under it.
    • Arctaris Impact Fund hosts a community meeting and announces its intention to close on the purchase of Saddleback come early November.
    • Big Sky and Loon Mountain will launch the world’s first dual frequency RFID lift access system in partnership with Axess.
    • With a new detachable quad under construction, Bogus Basin caps a five year turnaround.
    • Alpine Media display screens will go live on more chairs this winter.
    • Big Burn at Snowmass may be replaced with a bubble lift.

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News Roundup: Companies

  • All of a sudden, the Aspen Lift One project finds itself in jeopardy.
  • The City of Branson ends its exclusive agreement with a would-be gondola developer after years of false starts.
  • Two companies bid to replace the Barrows double at Howelsen Hill in 2020 or 2021.
  • Disney Skyliner attendants will start at $12 an hour.
  • Competing resorts comment on the New Hampshire Vail acquisitions as Attitash touts major lift maintenance investments.
  • A jury decides Wachusett Mountain should pay $3.3 million to the family of a child who was injured in a 30 foot fall from the Polar Express in 2015.
  • The Placer County Board of Supervisors unanimously approves the California Express gondola project.
  • Utah Olympic Park breaks ground on the first phase of its major expansion with a second new lift to follow in two to five years.
  • A study concludes Teton Pass, Montana would need to attract 15,000 visitors annually to reopen as a viable resort.
  • Big changes are coming to the EB-5 visa program, which some ski areas have used to pay for big ticket improvements in the past.
  • Timberline’s owners hire an investment bank to sell the ski area.
  • Berkshire Bank and others slam the latest Hermitage restructuring plan.
  • TransLink gets serious about building a 3S in metro Vancouver.

News Roundup: Norway

  • Arctaris Impact Fund still wants to buy Saddleback but no deal has been reached after more than a year.
  • The Banff-Norquay gondola project faces stiff headwinds from Parks Canada.
  • The latest podcast from Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz highlights how the company takes over operations at newly-acquired resorts.
  • A judge rejects the Hermitage Club’s proposed restructuring plan as members look to reopen under new management.
  • In other Hermitage news, a New Jersey bank seeks to repossess 46 snow guns.
  • Here is the complete incident narrative from the February SeaWorld gondola deropement.
  • Lift construction gets underway at Skeetawk, America’s first all-new ski area since Cherry Peak in 2015.
  • Village construction resumes at Tamarack with Wildwood Express installation to follow this fall.
  • A helicopter delivers most of the new Steamboat gondola towers.
  • Last week’s gondola incident at Vail was not a result of tampering or sabotage.
  • Medellín’s sixth urban gondola, Line P, is on track to open in December.
  • After 1,231 days as Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area, the Badger Pass name returns thanks to a $12 million settlement between the National Park Service and two competing concession companies.
  • I spoke too soon on Eaglecrest possibly building Alaska’s first gondola.  Icy Strait Point on Chichagof Island is planning a gondola project to open as soon as next summer.
  • The haul rope is spliced for a rare fixed grip chondola in Illinois.
  • Mi Teleférico in La Paz broke its own daily record again on Monday with 583,841 riders, more than average weekday ridership for Boston’s three subway lines combined.

  • Municipally-owned Great Bear resorts to private fundraising in hopes of replacing its Borvig chairlift.
  • Placer County leaders will vote Tuesday on the Squaw-Alpine gondola.
  • Simon Fraser University steps up its Burnaby Mountain gondola marketing.
  • The Los Angeles Griffith Park gondola study is underway.
  • Eagle’s Rest 2.0 nears completion at Jackson Hole.

News Roundup: Win-Win

News Roundup: Ten

  • Garaventa inks a $45 million deal for a 4x funifor, 1x aerial tramway megaproject in Switzerland.
  • Beartooth Basin attempts to crowdfund this spring’s operation, including $35,000 for a required gearbox replacement on Poma 1.
  • An ugly snowmobile-chairlift crash is caught on tape at Sunshine Village.
  • The City of Steamboat will overhaul the Howelsen Hill Poma this summer and plans to replace Barrows around 2021.
  • The Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco and associated aerial tram may reopen as early as June.
  • Disney Skyliner’s nearly 300 ten passenger cabins will come in ten different colors with 22 unique character wraps.
  • The Indy Pass is still adding mountains.
  • With Timberline Resort’s owners unable to find an attorney, a judge postpones a state receivership hearing until May 28th.
  • Leitner will show off updated six passenger chair and Diamond gondola designs at Interalpin.
  • Local businesses leaders are pushing for a high capacity 3S on Burnaby Mountain.
  • Steamboat plans to sell its now retired gondola cabins to other ski resorts around the world for parts.
  • The so-called Balsams bill passes the New Hampshire Senate and is expected to be signed by the governor.

News Roundup: One Billion

  • Despite competition from the Ikon and Epic passes, Peak Resorts reports sales of its Peak Passes are up 14 percent year over year through 4/30.
  • HTI, the parent company of Leitner, Poma, Aguido, MiniMetro, Prinoth and more reports it built 75 ropeways in 2017 and exceeded $1 billion in revenue.
  • The Hermitage Club opposes its primary lender’s motion to appoint a receiver and says it has found a financial firm willing to loan $26 million in restructuring capital.  A key court hearing is scheduled for one week from today.
  • TransLink’s ten year, $8.8 billion vision includes funding for Burnaby Mountain Gondola planning.
  • Gondola fever spreads in Edmonton.
  • A gondola is being looked at for Idaho Springs, Colorado along I-70.
  • SE Group and the White River National Forest test an interactive storyboard as a public engagement tool for Beaver Creek’s McCoy Park Expansion.  Comments are due May 29th and a decision is expected in September.
  • The Forest Service proposes quickly approving the replacement of Arizona Snowbowl’s Agassiz triple with a 6,100 foot combination lift utilizing gondola cabins between every three or four chairs.  Capacity would be only 1,200 passengers per hour.
  • Magic Mountain commits to finishing the Green lift and weighs the future of its nearby Pohlig-Hall-Yan contraption.

News Roundup: High Level

News Roundup: Selloff

  • Owing $3.8 million to creditors, Deer Mountain, SD to be sold to the highest bidder in a sheriff’s sale today.  The mountain has two Riblet chairlifts.
  • Curbed counts down 11 gondolas changing the way people move through cities.
  • Steamboat sells off triple chairs from Four Points in 28 minutes (the lift got new Doppelmayr ones in 2012.)
  • Taos offloads 200 chairs from lifts 5 and 6 for $200 each with proceeds going to hurricane relief.  As of this writing, 37 remain.
  • Leitner Ropeways’ new gondola at the world’s largest hotel transported 3.5 million passengers in its first eight months.
  • Aspen Mountain installs Bluetooth speakers in Silver Queen Gondola cabins.
  • China Peak completes its first quad chair, the old Elkhead from Steamboat.
  • The Burnaby Mountain Gondola is back on the table.
  • Leitner-Poma of America inks contract to build a US$7.1 million high-speed quad at Falls Creek in Australia.
  • Vail Resorts launches interactive website with lift downtime and wait time data for last season at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Park City.
  • Belleayre’s gondola cabins arrive from across the pond.  Unfortunately, the name of the lift is spelled wrong on all of them.
  • Ski Magazine predicts the KSL-Aspen duo will benefit skiers with a second Epic-style season pass and major resort upgrades.
  • Skytrac and Timberline Helicopters fly towers for the new East Rim lift at Whitefish.  Thanks Buzz D. for these cool photos.

Revisiting a Burnaby Mountain Gondola

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Burnaby Mountain in Metro Vancouver seems like a textbook site to test cable-propelled transit in a major North American city.  Simon Fraser University, with 30,000 students and staff, occupies 200 acres on the western crest of the mountain.  A growing neighborhood called UniverCity occupies the eastern hilltop with 5,000 residents.  Both are surrounded by parks and conservation lands but are only 1.7 miles from a SkyTrain rail station.  The mountain is 985 feet tall and served by a fleet of 48 diesel buses providing more than four million annual transit trips with poor levels of service.  Snow cripples transit ten an average of days per year on a hill that 39,000 people will live on by 2030.

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Burnaby Mountain. Photo credit: Simon Fraser University

In 2010, TransLink commissioned one of the first comprehensive studies pitting ropeway technologies against the status quo and other alternatives in a North American context. One of the world’s largest engineering firms, CH2M Hill, led the team with financial analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers and technical consulting by Gmuender Engineering and the lift manufacturers.  Commercially sensitive sections of the report were never released to the public in order to safeguard a future competitive procurement process, but what was published is a fascinating read for anyone interested in transit or ropeways.

The SkyTrain Millenium Line, opened in 2002, passes 1.7 miles south of SFU at a station called Production Way-University in Burnaby.  Commuters wait an average of seven minutes for a bus here, which takes 13-16 minutes to go the less than four miles to SFU. Increased frequencies of already articulated buses would result in proportionally greater emissions, traffic impacts, staffing needs, required layover space and capital costs.

The study looked at a wide range of alternatives – from bus rapid transit (BRT) to light rail, funicular, subway, trolleybus, reversible aerial tramway, monocable gondola, 2S gondola, 3S gondola and funitel.  These were narrowed down to three major categories for further study – diesel bus, monocable/2S gondola and 3S gondola/funitel.  Other surface alternatives proved too expensive, had significant neighborhood impacts, or both.

secondary comparison
Comparison of three modes that made it to secondary study.  3S/funitel won on nearly every count except cost.

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