Why T-Bars are Trending Again

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The Valar T-Bar opened at Cannon Mountain last year to service an expansive race venue, demonstrating one of reasons resorts are building new T-Bars these days.
Seventy percent of the 1,277 T-Bars, J-Bars and platter (sometimes called Poma) lifts built in North America to date are no longer in service.  That would suggest the traditional surface lift is a dying breed in the age of beginner-friendly carpets, which go in by the dozen every year of late.  But over the last two seasons, a bit of a renaissance has emerged, with more mountain resorts adding brand new T-Bars and platters.  Four T-Bars being completed right now represent the highest number in North America since 1987.  Even more resorts are considering building these classic surface lifts, although the reasons why have little to do with learning to ski.

Peak T-Bar construction occurred in 1964 (not shown) but the platter remained popular as a beginner lift into the 1990s when the carpet came along.  Peak J-Bar was back in 1967 and those are probably gone for good.

Race Training

Yesterday I visited both Burke Mountain, Vermont and Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire, where local ski clubs recently partnered to build dedicated surface lifts on terrain used for racing.  In some cases, these types of lifts are open to the public but other times not.  New T-Bars are relatively cheap with costs typically covered by donors and/or program fees.  Another reason for this application is speed; every T-Bar built since 2011 can move at least 550 feet per minute, significantly faster than most fixed-grip chairlifts.  The Franconia Notch Ski Club’s new T was built by LST Ropeways and goes up to 690 fpm; Burke Mountain Academy’s nearly-finished one is a Leitner, shown below.

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Instagram Tuesday: Stars

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

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News Roundup: Dangling

News Roundup: Climbing

  • Suicide Six debuts¬†new Leitner-Poma quad chair, Red River opens its new Doppelmayr quad.
  • Sundance employees rush a ladder to a chair, climb up and pull a hanging child back up in just minutes. ¬†A man at Seven Springs fares worse.
  • Two of Canada’s richest families still plan to build $3.5 billion ski resort near Squamish.
  • Telluride Mountain Village Gondola turns 20.
  • Jay Peak’s tram is back in action.
  • The AP runs a story on future urban gondolas in the United States.
  • Cannon Mountain’s new LST T-Bar goes down ahead of dedication.
  • If you enjoy this blog, Ski Inc. is a must read.

News Roundup: For Sale

News Roundup: Big Week

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Garaventa recently fabricated new hangers for the Grouse Mountain Red Skyride cabins so riders can stand on the roof for an extra charge. Photo credit: Max U.

News Roundup: Making Repairs

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Ropeway Construction works to re-install a crossarm Thursday that fell off Timberline’s Thunderstruck lift last weekend. ¬†Photo credit: Timberline Four Seasons

Cannon Mountain Tram Evacuated

The Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway was evacuated on Sunday¬†for the first time in its history. ¬†The tram’s two cars¬†stopped around 1:50 pm, only about 75¬†feet out of¬†the stations due to a yet-to-be-specified mechanical problem a bearing issue with the electric motor.¬† After an hour and half, tram operators¬†began lowering¬†passengers by rope with the temperature hovering around zero. It took another hour and a half for all 48-passengers to make it safely off the red and yellow tram cars. ¬†Great work by the two operators who performed under pressure with minimal outside help.

Each tram cabin normally carries up to 70 passengers just over a mile between stations. Aguido (now merged with Leitner) built the Cannon Mountain Tramway back in 1979, replacing one built in 1938.    The State of New Hampshire owns and operates Cannon Mountain as part of Franconia Notch State Park.  Mountain management hopes to have the tram back open tomorrow morning. These things always seem to happen on a holiday weekend!  (not far away at Sunday River the workhorse Chondola has also been down all weekend.)

Update 2/15: The tram will remain closed at least through the first part of this week.

News Roundup: Modifications

  • Apparently Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire will get the first LST Ropeways lift in North America. ¬†Manufactured in Germany, it will be a T-Bar for the Mittersill racing area which has an existing¬†Doppelmayr CTEC double chair. ¬†SkyTrac will be doing the installation.¬† LST Ropeways is owned by the MND Group which also owns Gazex (avalanche release¬†systems) and Sufag (snowmaking systems) with a North American facility in Eagle, CO.
  • Leitner-Poma will re-engineer and modify towers on the Grey Mountain lift at Red Mountain, BC this fall. ¬†The quad chair was built in 1992 at Alyeska and moved to Red in 2013. ¬†The re-installation was done by Summit Lift Co. of Fernie, BC and the lift has 18 towers in its current configuration. ¬†No word on the exact reason for the re-design.
  • The Camelot chair at Boyne Highlands is losing its vault drive terminal that¬†is literally part of the ski area’s base lodge.¬† In its place will be a used CTEC drive terminal. ¬†Does anyone know where it came from?
  • The Aspen Daily News reports¬†on the all new High Alpine detachable quad at Snowmass.
  • Snow King debuted Doppelmayr’s new ‘Alpinstar’ terminal this summer and now Caberfae Peaks, MI will debut the ‘Ministar’ in 2016.¬† The new triple chair will replace the Clubhouse double which is a 1967 Hall.
  • ¬†Developers are still trying to figure out how to get a new Lift 1A back into downtown Aspen like the original single chair.