- Many big openings this weekend including Lenawee Express at Arapahoe Basin, Big Red at Whistler, Seven Brothers at Loon Mountain, North Bowl Express at Heavenly, Eagle Peak at Lookout Pass and Black Bear 6 at Camelback.
- Palisades Tahoe launches the Base to Base Gondola tomorrow but it will operate as two separate lifts and close Sunday for more work.
- Vail waits for a weather window to fly the pilot line for Sun Down Express, nears the finish line on Game Creek Express.
- Doppelmayr and Steamboat unwrap Wild Blue cabins.
- Kimberley load tests the Northstar Express following a year of repairs.
- New Sunnyside at Alta won’t be finished by Christmas; the Albion double will spin until it opens.
- The new high speed quad at Telluride won’t open until late January due to labor challenges.
- FourRunner goes down at Stowe and the nearby Sunrise Six isn’t finished yet. Lookout saves the week.
- A “series of setbacks to electrical infrastructure” delays opening of new lifts and the entire Big Boulder ski area.
- Cuchara won’t reopen lift-served skiing this year after all.
- Giants Ridge debuts a new VistaMap.
- Sun Valley launches a website dedicated to next summer’s lift projects.
- As the investigation continues into the Mont-Sainte-Anne gondola incident and the mountain remains closed this weekend, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies seeks a public-private partnership to renew its Quebec infrastructure. Quebec’s Premier isn’t sold on giving public money to RCR.
- The Governor of New Hampshire wants replacement of the Cannon Tram to be voted on by the legislature, a funding mechanism could be selected this year with the earliest possible opening in late 2024.
- Ski Utah previews the upcoming Burns Express at Deer Valley.
- Wisconsin approves a pared down master plan for Granite Peak with two expansion lifts, one on each side of existing terrain.
- Homewood forges ahead with plans to go private for homeowners only.
- The sightseeing gondola proposal in Vernon, British Columbia moves forward.
- An idea to connect Detroit with Windsor, Ontario by 3S gondola is back.
- Construction begins on the new D-Line gondola at a California vineyard.
News Roundup: Contract Awards
- Indy Pass adds Meadowlark, Wyoming and Black Mountain of Maine, teases a big West Coast addition coming next week.
- The Boston Globe visits Gunstock, finds employees refusing to work without managers, a locksmith changing locks and politicians advocating for the resort to be leased to a private operator.
- New England Ski Journal gets former Gunstock GM Tom Day’s side of the story.
- A local architecture firm wins the contract to design and engineer the Eaglecrest Gondola relocation.
- The Maine Land Use Planning Commission wants more information before voting on the Moosehead Lake ski area rebuild.
- Dozens of ski areas reach out to help Plattekill Mountain following last week’s fire with Snowbasin offering a used drive system.
- One lift becomes fully operational at long-closed Cuchara.
- Busch Gardens Tampa Bay delays reopening its VonRoll gondola, citing the scope of work and delays in supplies.
- ORDA seeks public comment on a proposed Lift 7 replacement and gondola maintenance facility at Belleayre.
- ORDA also awards an $11.2 million contract to Doppelmayr for the Bear Den detachable quad at Whiteface.
- Pennsylvania’s first D-Line goes above ground at Camelback. Thanks to Ben Ta for the photos.
New Six Packs Coming to Blue Mountain and Camelback
A report by Ski Area Management reveals new six place chairlifts will be installed at both Camelback Resort and Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania this summer. The resorts share common ownership and are located within an hour of each other in the Pocono Mountains, though the lifts will be built by different manufacturers.
At Camelback, Doppelmayr will replace the aging Sullivan Express with a bubble lift named Black Bear 6. The existing high speed quad was the site of a tragic accident a year ago which injured three guests. Black Bear will feature a 667 foot vertical rise, 3,000 passenger per hour capacity and indoor parking for its 50 chairs.
Blue Mountain’s new six pack will replace the Main Street and Burma doubles but start lower on the mountain than the existing lifts. The Leitner-Poma machine will rise 980 vertical feet in under five minutes. “The new lift aims to improve connectivity between Valley Lodge at the base and the Summit Lodge, as well as access to terrain on the western part of the mountain,” reported SAM. The lift will spin at 1,000 feet per minute with 80 carriers.
Both projects are expected to begin construction this month and open for the 2022-23 ski season.
Lawsuit Filed Following Camelback Chair Incident
The family injured when a chair fell from Camelback’s Resort’s Sullivan Express last March has filed a lawsuit alleging employees knew about problems yet continued to load skiers. New Jersey resident Yelisey Rabaev and two of his children were in chair 62 when it detached from the haul rope and all three suffered major injuries. Yelisey’s wife Goldie, who was with the couple’s two other children, watched the incident happen from another chair and is also a party in the suit.
Various LLCs that make up Camelback Resort are listed as defendants along with parent companies KSL Resorts of California and EPR Properties of Missouri. Doppelmayr USA, manufacturer of the 1995 model year lift, is not named in the lawsuit.
“Prior to Plaintiffs’ arrival at Camelback Mountain Ski Resort on March 21, 2021, patrons riding the Sullivan Express experienced violent shaking and swinging of the chairs on the Sullivan Express that was abnormal,” lawyers for the plaintiffs allege. “The violent shaking and swinging would occur when the Sullivan Express would start moving again after being stopped. The most violent shaking and swinging of chairs would occur near the top of the Sullivan Express within the view of the lift operator and/or attendant.”
“Despite having reports that the chairs on the Sullivan Express were violently shaking and swinging, and despite the lift operator/attendant having witnessed this shaking and swinging the Camelback Defendants outrageously, wantonly, willfully, and recklessly disregarded the safety of their patrons and failed to shut down, disable, and/or prevent riders from riding Sullivan Express and, instead, continued to permit and encourage patrons to utilize the Sullivan Express,” lawyers wrote.
The father and two children fell more than 20 feet and were taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Yelisey was most seriously injured and spent nearly three weeks in three different hospitals before being transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation center. Descriptions of his injuries take up nearly an entire page of court documents and he remains disabled. The minors suffered broken bones and one a collapsed lung.
The Sullivan Express remained closed for the rest of of last season but is now back open to skiers. “While we cannot comment on ongoing litigation, we remain deeply saddened for the family involved in the March 2021 Sullivan lift incident,” Camelback Resort said in a statement. “Our number one priority is always the safety and security of our guests and employees, and we have taken and continue to take extensive measures to ensure that we are providing a safe environment.” The family is being represented by Philadelphia law firm Cohen, Placitella & Roth, which has requested a jury trial.
News Roundup: Planning Ahead
- Indy Pass signs on Manning Park, British Columbia; The Rock, Wisconsin; and Seven Oaks, Iowa.
- Big Snow American Dream will remain closed several more weeks following last week’s fire.
- Leitner-Poma to build the previously announced Lakeview Express at Mt. Rose next year.
- The gondola to the gondola at Breckenridge nears approval.
- Rad Smith completes his largest illustration yet – a new map for Big White in the style of James Niehues.
- Another protest takes place against a gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
- Nitehawk continues fundraising for a new chairlift as it nears a second season without one.
- Lookout Pass works to convert Timber Wolf from a double into a triple.
- Alpine-X seeks to raise up to $5 million through crowdfunding.
- An Iowa county agrees to purchase Sleepy Hollow, a chairlift-served tubing park.
- Palisades Tahoe renames two of its chairlifts Resort Chair and Wa She Shu.
- Doppelmayr arrives on site to assess and make recommendations regarding the storm-damaged chairlift in Gallix, Quebec.
- Amsterdam could see a river crossing 3S gondola.
- Sundance will host a party on October 10th to celebrate the final rides on Ray’s Lift before removal.
- Another gondola concept emerges in Los Angeles.
- Lake Louise’s new high speed quad will be called Juniper Express.
- Camelback says it has completed an extensive inspection and certification process for its lifts and implemented additional safety protocols in the wake of last season’s chair fall.
- Stuart Winchester gets the latest from Aspen Snowmass CEO Mike Kaplan on 1A, Pandora’s, Coney Glade, Burnt Mountain, Goldenhorn and other lift projects.
- The Superior National Forest will host a virtual open house Tuesday regarding the Lutsen Mountains expansion.
- West Mountain unveils plans for its first detachable lift, including an intermediate station.
News Roundup: A Landslide
- After a year with no revenue, one Canadian resort resorts to GoFundMe to stay afloat.
- SE Group will study the viability of a proposed hiking/biking chairlift near Park City.
- 97 percent of Bryce Resort homeowners vote to fund $2.5 million replacement of Chair 2.
- Cape Smokey receives a CA$2.5 million construction loan from the Government of Canada, although travel restrictions may delay completion of a new gondola.
- Doppelmayr’s 2021 Yearbook is out along with a new Wir magazine.
- Poma’s latest Reference Book also drops.
- Trails and the new lift line have been cleared on Sunday River’s Merrill Hill.
- Skytrac is still recruiting construction employees in Crested Butte, Steamboat, Whiteface and Whitefish.
- The first-of-its-kind Leitner 2S in Germany is complete, though Covid prevents public operation and a noise issue hinders full speed operation for now.
- Doppelmayr and Sun Group mark 14 years of building record breaking ropeways in Vietnam.
- Great Bear to raffle off retired Borvig quad chairs.
- The story of how MND came to be through 15 acquisitions and a focus on emerging markets.
- MND reports half year results with revenue declining 5 percent but snowmaking and ropeway revenue increasing by 6 percent.
- Less than four years ago, new terminal equipment was shoehorned into the Steamboat Gondola building. Now it’s being used for fire training in advance of demolition.
- Big Sky launches a Swift Current 6 update site.
- Vidanta SkyDream claims to be the world’s first gondola transportation at a beach resort.
- The Epcot Disney Skyliner line will close for a six day maintenance window in January.
- For the second time in two months, a guest is injured falling from equipment at Camelback.
- Berkshire East and Catamount Jon Schaefer owner talks expansion, says he came close to buying the Hermitage Club’s six pack and tells the story of re-pouring foundations for Bousquet’s new triple chair in January.
- Montana’s shuttered Marshall Mountain sells to a new owner.
- The proposed Los Angeles urban 3S releases its preferred alignment and will host two public meetings in June.
- In an interview, Poma Chairman Jean Souchal laments losing 30 percent of business from Covid but he remains optimistic, especially about urban transport by rope.
- Copper’s proposed Lumberjack replacement would be a detachable quad following a modified alignment.
- One of the Jay Peak fraudsters faces three years in prison.
- Icy Strait Point, home to two new gondolas stalled by the pandemic, will open this summer after all.
News Roundup: So Long T-Bars
- Oak Mountain retires its last T-Bar, which may live on in Vermont.
- Nitehawk still doesn’t know how it will replace a chairlift destroyed by ground movement one year ago.
- KSL Resorts, owner of Camelback, will manage and invest in nearby Blue Mountain.
- A construction update from Great Bear.
- A company under fire for a bridge collapse which killed 26 people in Mexico City also oversees two Cablebús gondola lines.
- Poma inaugurates a new urban gondola in Belgium.
- Preliminary indications from the March incident at Camelback point toward a dynamic event involving speed changes.
- Bridal Veil Mountain Resort will hold a public information session via Zoom on Wednesday, May 19th at 7:00 pm. There’s also a new video tour of the proposed ski resort.
- Austin looks at tourist-focused gondola transportation.
- Steamboat Springs considers gondola transit.
- Sunridge disassembles its Yellow T-Bar.
- Howelsen Hill lift construction gets off to an exciting start as workers accidentally start a fire.
- Bluewood plans to upgrade or replace Skyline Express and build a lift servicing 200 acres of new terrain in the next three years.
- Poma’s exciting urban 3S project in France enters the home stretch.
- Work gets underway on the Squaw-Alpine gondola.
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.
Chair Falls from Camelback’s Sullivan Express
A chair fell from the Sullivan Express at Camelback Resort in Pennsylvania today along with three passengers who were riding in it. Pictures posted to social media show a significant patrol response as well as ski and snowboard gear surrounding the chair on the ground. A local dispatch log notes a call came in at 3:39 pm for a 40 year old male with back and hip injury, a 12 year old male with an arm injury and a 9 year old female with an abdominal injury. The entire west side of the resort was closed for the remainder of the day. Weather in the area was reportedly good with sunny skies, light winds and temperatures in the 50s.
The lift involved is a 1995 Doppelmayr detachable quad with DS series grips. It operates in winter as well as summer for water park operations. While Doppelmayr detachable lifts have an excellent safety record, other instances of chairs falling have occurred. A 2015 incident on Mt. Bachelor’s Sunrise Express was blamed on component failure. At Thredbo, Australia, quad chairs fell in both 2016 and 2019 from the Gunbarrel Express due to windy conditions.
As of Monday morning, the Sullivan Express remains closed with the Bailey double operating in its place. Sullivan’s sister lift, the Stevenson Express, is operating normally.
Camelback released the below statement Monday afternoon:
Camelback issued a second statement the morning of Tuesday, March 23rd:
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry confirmed to me it is investigating the incident but declined to provide further information. “The results of the investigation are not considered a public document,” an agency spokesperson noted.
News Roundup: October Turns
- Skiing is open this weekend in Alberta, Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey Ontario and Wisconsin!
- Garibaldi at Squamish releases new renderings of what could be a $3.5 billion project.
- Searchmont holds off on making snow, offering lodging or selling passes and will only install one of the two Skytrac lifts it ordered due to Coronavirus.
- In a rare interview, John Cumming tells the story of Powdr.
- Big Snow and American Dream post promising attendance numbers after reopening.
- The latest capacity management video from SAM and Snow Operating focuses on lift capacity math in the Covid era.
- With two operating and five more under construction, Mexico’s capital region considers building even more urban gondolas.
- The gondola network in Puerto Vallarta appears complete but surrounding theme parks and hotels have a long way to go.
- Skeetawk has a trail map and will open for the very first time December 5th.
- Only one of Shanty Creek Resorts’ two Michigan ski areas will open this winter.
- Following the death of its owner, Granite Gorge does not plan to operate this year.
- Frustrated at lack of investment, local business owners look into buying Mont-Sainte-Anne from Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.
- A three gondola system connecting various points in Park City would cost an estimated $64 million to build with $3.5 million in annual operating costs.
- The Freedom Pass comes back but with fewer participating resorts than in years past.
- With revenue down eight figures, the Palm Springs Tramway takes out a $15 million loan.
- French President Emmanuel Macron orders the country’s ski resorts closed until at least December 1st due to rising coronavirus cases.
- Of 6,521 comments the Utah Department of Transportation received on Little Cottonwood Canyon options, 78 percent were pro-gondola.
- Granby Ranch will reopen under new management December 11th with more than $1 million invested in lift maintenance and snowmaking.
- Soldier Mountain gives another fire recovery update.
- Technical Safety BC releases an incident report and technical analysis from the latest Sea to Sky Gondola incident (both are heavily redacted so as not to impede the ongoing criminal investigation.)
- Camelback’s new Sunbowl Quad nears completion.