News Roundup: Chairless

News Roundup: A Landslide

Berkshire East and Catamount Plan Three New Lifts

Schaefer Resorts will invest heavily in its Massachusetts and New York mountains coming out of the pandemic. In a letter to guests dated yesterday, Jon Schaefer remarked on this season’s success and looked toward the future. “This year skiing got its groove back,” he noted. “This wasn’t just at our mountains, but across the board, skiing in the United States switched from something people did or went on vacation to do and became the wintertime covid escape mechanism. In November, I wondered how everyone would survive and worried about what the sport would lose, and in March, it’s obvious that at least on the mountain, people and the sport are thriving.”

As previously announced, Catamount’s Glade double will be replaced with a used fixed grip triple or quad. Although most of the ski area lies in Massachusetts, this new lift will be located entirely in New York State. A second used lift is planned to service unspecified new terrain. One used Poma lift has already been delivered to Catamount for installation.

Berkshire East will move forward with an eastward expansion “immediately,” including a new lift ending near the top of Mohawk with a base terminal located just above the Deerfield River. This project has been in the works for a number of years with permitting in place. Both Berkshire East and Catamount will also see major snowmaking upgrades.

News Roundup: Settling Up

Catamount to Replace Glade Lift in 2021

Catamount Mountain Resort on the New York-Massachusetts border today announced the retirement of its 49 year old double, a Ski Lift International classic called Glade. A triple chair will take its place next summer, servicing the summit alongside the existing Ridge quad. The lift will be the second new triple installed by the Schaefer Family since they purchased Catamount in 2018. A manufacturer for the project was not revealed.

With the removal of Glade, fewer than 20 SLI lifts remain in operation out of more than 70 constructed across the United States. Catamount’s other double chair is now the last remaining SLI lift in the Northeast. Ride it while you still can!

News Roundup: Viral

News Roundup: Sunshine

  • The Summit at Snoqualmie shuts Hidden Valley for the season due to an “unusual mechanical problem.”
  • Sugarloaf closes King Pine due to a sheave assembly issue.
  • Dave Brownlie, former head of Whistler Blackcomb and current Revelstoke President, weighs in on the state of the British Columbia ski industry and his company’s plans for Grouse Mountain.
  • The Colorado Sun interviews three Colorado resort pioneers about industry trends and challenges.
  • As the gondola at Mont-Sainte-Anne reopens, the resort says an external power issue caused last month’s sudden stop.  A lawsuit has been filed and the power company denies responsibility.
  • Just the Leitner portion of Mexico City’s new urban gondola network will feature seven stations and 300 cabins.
  • Experienced resort executives Andy and Jace Wirth may take over operations at Granby Ranch.
  • Limited Ikon/Mountain Collective visits to Arapahoe Basin are 69 percent lower than unlimited Epic visits last year and the “experience is way up,” says Al Henceroth.
  • Another informative podcast from Stuart Winchester features an executive from Mountain Creek and Big Snow talking about the next new lift and a possible Big Snow Miami.
  • Smugglers’ Notch has no intentions of losing its independence or ditching its fleet of fixed grip double chairs.
  • Whitefish will begin work in Hellroaring Basin this summer and move the current Hellroaring triple to a new alignment in 2021.

News Roundup: Unboxing

  • Lizards prevent construction of an announced chairlift project in New Zealand.
  • Berkshire East and Catamount owner Jon Schaefer finds success staying away from detachable lifts and acquiring used lifts from across the country.
  • Ikon Pass sales rose 60 percent over last year.
  • Cockaigne, NY will reopen in January after many seasons closed.
  • Frost Fire, ND reopens after a missed season.
  • A 3S gondola to Snowbird and Alta would cost more than $300 million to build and $12 million a year to operate.
  • Vail Resorts looks to build it first D-Line chairlift, not in Colorado or California but at Perisher.
  • The Forest Service green lights construction of a new Big Burn lift at Snowmass.
  • A new version of Eagle’s Rest comes Jackson Hole.
  • A downed tree causes extended stops at Silver Mountain.
  • The one year old Blackcomb Gondola went down Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week.
  • Disney Skyliner guests can now call a dedicated phone line for information when gondolas stop for longer than usual.
  • Lift service returns to Tamarack’s Wildwood zone tomorrow.
  • Copper’s Tucker Mountain becomes lift served for the first time today.
  • Regardless of whether Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows build an interconnect gondola, a private ski area may open nearby.

News Roundup: A World Away

  • As Vail Resorts shakes up management in the northeast, outgoing Mt. Sunapee GM Jay Gamble reflects on 20 years of growth including four new lifts and 110,000 annual skier visits.
  • Vail also says goodbye to Sunapee’s Duckling double after 55 years.
  • The owner of Mt. Washington, British Columbia; Ragged Mountain, New Hampshire; Wisp, Maryland and Wintergreen, Virginia takes over operations at Powderhorn, Colorado.
  • Propelled by five major projects in Colorado, Leitner-Poma says 2018 is it biggest year ever in the United States.
  • The $2 billion Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco, which features a short aerial tramway, is mired in problems unrelated to the lift.
  • Construction begins in Switzerland for the world’s second longest 3S with the most towers – seven.
  • With new six and eight passenger lifts, Big Sky Resort shifts away from the double/triple/quad lift lingo.
  • Alterra names KSL veteran Adam Knox Senior Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development to lead the company’s acquisitions and resort partnership group.
  • Due to the amount of lift work needed after seven shuttered years, Cockaigne, NY won’t reopen this winter after all.
  • One of the longest Riblets retired from Snowmass turns up in the Pakistani town where Osama bin Laden was killed.
  • A freshly cut lift line is spotted in the Spanish Peaks development adjacent to Big Sky Resort, probably for the planned Highlands chair.
  • The Berkshire Eagle looks at Catamount’s $5 million fall.
  • A judge quashes spending for lift maintenance at the Hermitage Club, which remains in foreclosure.  A new lawsuit against the ski area alleges breach of contract and consumer fraud.
  • Another aerial tramway cabin crashes in Europe, this time on the one year old Bartholet jigback Staubernbahn.  No one was hurt as the cabin that hit the ground was empty.
  • The Boston Globe talks with Mainers about a fourth winter without Saddleback.
  • In New Zealand, The Remarkables is set to build the inaugural D-Line in the southern hemisphere and Coronet Peak announces a Leitner Telemix.
  • The new Bretton Woods trail map indicates the gondola may not be called Presidential Bahn after all.
  • As Copper Mountain and Leitner-Poma crews work hard to finish two big lifts, opening weekend shifts to Super Bee.

Catamount to Build Fifth Chairlift

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The Schaefer family bought Catamount Ski Area just three months ago but already has grand plans for their second ski resort.  The co-owners hope to bring the same success to Catamount the group did to Berkshire East, now a year-round destination that saw two new lifts since 2007.  Catamount, which sits partly in Massachusetts and half way in New York, is eighty years old.  Previous owners Tom Gilbert and Rich Edwards became unable to make the capital investments they knew they needed to.  “To remain really competitive in the ski industry there’s many things that need to be done, and we’ve been trying over the years to raise some capital to do these projects,” Gilbert told the Berkshire Eagle in May following the sale announcement. “We realized we were not successful in raising capital and realized we needed to bring something in.”  Berkshire East paid $650,000 for the mountain and retired Catamount’s $1.6 million in outstanding debt.

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This Poma lift could find a third home on the Massachusetts-New York border.  Photo credit: chairlift.org

A new triple chair will soon improve the beginner experience on the Massachusetts side of the mountain.  The lift is likely to be a 1987 Poma Alpha model which began its life in Vermont as Magic Mountain’s Sun Corner lift.  Magic went dark only four years later and the triple flew south to Berkshire East, where it was the Summit lift.  Skytrac replaced it with a quad in 2014 and the Poma has sat awaiting a new home ever since.  Ironically, a used chairlift from Stratton will finally return lift service to Magic’s Sun Corner this fall after 27 years.

Catamount’s new 1,600′ lift will run up up the Esplanade trail.  I suspect this will be a 2019 project but there’s a chance it could happen sooner.  The triple will complement four existing lifts, which are two SLI doubles, a Thiokol triple from Solitude, Utah and a Garaventa CTEC quad relocated from Belleayre, New York.  Catamount also plans to add a brand new 7,600 square foot lodge.