News Roundup: Setbacks

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Snow King’s latest master plan concept abandons a lift east of Rafferty in favor of a south-facing lift.  The Summit double would be replaced with an 8-passenger gondola.

Cherry Peak Will Complete Summit Lift for 2016-17

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Cherry Peak’s third triple chair will reach 7,050 feet in elevation, significantly higher than the Vista lift to the right.

Utah’s 14 ski resorts have built more than 45 new lifts since Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, barely behind Colorado over the same period, which has twice as many mountains.  Ski Utah is a huge success story in an era which has seen dozens of resort closings nationwide. Cherry Peak Resort became the state’s newest winter destination last December, bringing affordable skiing to the Cache Valley and the nearby college town of Logan.  Cherry Peak is the first all-new ski facility in America since the 2004 opening of Tamarack Resort in Idaho.  Next winter, the mountain will debut a third chairlift, increasing lift-served vertical rise to 1,265 feet.

TrailMap

Cherry Peak has a unique business model for the Rockies, operating Monday-Saturday with a noon opening on weekdays and skiing until 10:00 pm.  Owner John Chadwick has a lot to be proud of since starting construction on the project from scratch in 2013, completing a road network, two lifts, night lighting, snowmaking, a beautiful lodge, tube park and more. Last season saw plentiful snow and more than three months of operation with two triple chairlifts and a magic carpet.

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News Roundup: 115.4 mph

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  • Mt. Hood Meadows updates skiers on the windstorm that sent two hundred-foot hemlock trees onto the Shooting Star Express the night of November 17th.
  • Vail Resorts announces $100 million in capital improvements across its mountains for 2016/17 including replacement of the last major fixed-grip lift on Vail Mountain.  The new Sun Up Lift #17 will be a detachable quad, manufacturer unknown.
  • SkyTrac splices the Humphrey’s Peak Quad at Arizona Snowbowl.
  • The latest from Sugarloaf on the new King Pine.  An apparent Doppelmayr delay will push opening until late-December. Luckily (or unluckily) there’s no snow anyways.
  • Utah’s new ski resort, Cherry Peak, announces a December 21st debut with two lifts.
  • Doppelmayr’s 10th  3S gondola, the Penkenbahn, is ready to go.
  • A nonprofit ski area in Ontario that’s been unable to operate its quad chair since 2011 due to a 2006 Doppelmayr service bulletin hopes to crowdfund $80,000 for repairs.
  • West Mountain celebrates their new lift with fireworks rather than skiing and already has the drive terminal up for another new-used lift next summer.

News Roundup: Flying Volkswagens

  • Gunther Jochl, the Austrian-born owner of Sugar Mountain, got the CEOs of both Doppelmayr and CWA to come christen his new six-pack Saturday along with the governor of North Carolina.  Apparently the lift may get gondola cabins in the future.
  • A lawsuit from a homeowner could force the closure of Pennsylvania’s second largest ski resort. Seven Springs Mountain Resort operates two six-packs and eight fixed-grip lifts on 300 acres.  Unfortunately, four of those lifts and 75 percent of the mountain’s ski runs cross a public road that the homeowner wants opened in winter.  There are plenty of other ski resorts that have major highways passing through that close seasonally, including Deer Valley, Bridger Bowl and Mt. Baker.
  • Cherry Peak, the new ski area in Utah, won’t be able to complete their Summit lift in time for this season.  When I was there a few months ago, towers were laying on the ground along the line which will either have to be set or moved elsewhere.  Two other triple chairs and a carpet are set to go.
  • Arizona Snowbowl’s first new lift in 30 years is almost finished.
  • An 8.5 mile gondola system coming to Missouri’s Las Vegas?
  • Bartholet’s aerial tramway across the city of Puebla in Mexico will be finished December 15th, about a year behind schedule.  Speaking of BMF, they have a new website.
  • The Balsams clears some more hurdles but has still yet to break ground.
  • Staying on the mega-resort topic, Hemlock Resort near Chilliwack, BC receives approval to spend $1.5 billion on 23 new lifts and 20,000 lodging beds among other improvements over the next 60 years.  Hemlock currently has a 1977-vintage Doppelmayr triple and two even older Mueller doubles.  Buried in the linked article is the fact that the ski area never opened last year due to lack of snow.

    Hemlock Master Plan rendering from Brent Harley & Associates.
    Hemlock Master Plan rendering from Brent Harley & Associates.

Touring Utah’s Newest Ski Resort

Cherry Peak's  brand new lodge and Gateway chairlift with three months to go until opening.
Cherry Peak’s brand new lodge and Gateway chairlift with three months to go until opening.

Utah may have lost a resort last month but now it has another.  I recently got the chance to tour what will be America’s first new ski resort since Tamarack Resort opened in 2004.  Cherry Peak Resort is under construction just outside of Richmond, Utah.  It is named after the 9,765 foot peak nearby but the ski area will not even reach 8,000 feet.  The resort was scheduled to open last season but never got enough snow and construction fell behind.  Cherry Peak Resort is owned by local developer John Chadwick and located entirely on his private land.  He has been quietly working to build the ski area for the past five years while buying used lifts and equipment.  To call Cherry Peak a resort is a stretch but this will be a nice community ski area with 1,265 vertical feet of skiing and three lifts.

Cherry Peak's trail map.  Note the lift in the middle does not exist yet.
Cherry Peak’s trail map. Note the lift to the top does not exist yet.
Gateway chairlift which came from Blackcomb, BC.
Gateway chairlift which came from Blackcomb, BC.
Looking down the Gateway chair which still needs some paint.
Looking down the Gateway chair which still needs some paint.

Chadwick is currently running the ski lift version of a chop shop with used Yan lifts from across the west being cobbled together into three new triple chairs.  Two lifts, dubbed Gateway and Vista are completed and load tested.  Gateway was Blackcomb’s former Crystal Chair while Vista came from Sunnyside at Sun Valley.  Cherry Peak also bought multiple used lifts from Squaw Valley in 2012.

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