News Roundup: Paving the Way

  • Crystal Mountain owner John Kircher revives the idea of a second gondola to Campbell Basin, which would be around 7,800′ long and closely follow the one time path of an SLI double chair.
  • Vermont shuts down the Hermitage Club for a third time as more lawsuits are filed against the business and its founder.  One by a food service company argues, “The dire financial circumstances facing the defendants compel the plaintiff to press forward with alacrity…the collectible assets of the defendants appear to be dwindling.”
  • The New York City Economic Development Corporation is again studying a gondola to connect Lower Manhattan with a redeveloped Governors Island.
  • With 2,400 cabins headed out the door this year alone, CWA is expanding its production capabilities in Switzerland.  Photos from the factory floor show new cabins bound for Montana, Hawaii and more.
  • Park City’s NPR station reports a chair slid into another chair on the Jupiter lift in January, resulting in an injury, three day closure and now litigation.
  • Approval of Woodward Park City is upheld, paving the way for construction of a fixed-grip quad.
  • The Forest Service tentatively approves Purgatory’s proposed Gelande high-speed lift.
  • A real estate development now under construction includes money for reopening New York’s Big Tupper with up to five lifts.
  • New owners at Owl’s Head, Quebec may spend up to $150 million on new lifts and other improvements.  The mountain currently includes three 1980s-era detachables including the world’s first high-speed quad from Breckenridge.
  • Lift construction season is here!  Thanks to Carleton G. for these photos of Waterville Valley’s new LST T-Bar.
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News Roundup: Outage

  • Aspen Mountain 1A stakeholders narrow replacement options to a few alignments with a two-stage lift or pulse gondola still in the mix.
  • Crystal Mountain, WA retires its hand-painted trail map for a computer-rendered VistaMap.
  • Antelope Butte, Wyoming inches closer to reopening with its two existing Riblet chairlifts.
  • Local paper tells the story of how Borvig’s owner came to own Berthoud Pass.
  • Breckenridge and Vail debut new Leitner-Poma six-place lifts.
  • A power outage closes Sugarloaf on the always-busy day after Christmas.
  • Two different New Hampshire ski areas remain closed due to problems with lifts.
  • LST detachable lift number one is still undergoing testing in France with opening now planned for January.
  • Bromley’s Sun Mountain Express is back in action today following Monday’s incident.  Ironically, it’s currently on wind hold.

News Roundup: Following

  • Mt. Hood Meadows, Skytrac and Timberline Helicopters fly Buttercup towers in just 45 minutes.
  • Vail Resorts schedules annual meeting for Wednesday, December 6th, where multiple new lift projects are likely to be revealed.
  • Aspen Skiing Company, the City of Aspen, private landowners and the public collaborate towards building a long-sought detachable Lift 1.
  • Latest LST detach update: chairs are back at the factory being reworked and the Envers lift is expected to be up and running around Christmas.
  • Revelstoke adds 24 new gondola cabins, Crystal Mountain gets five more.
  • Navajo Nation leadership soundly rejects Grand Canyon Escalade gondola in 16-2 vote.
  • SkiCo and the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club plan to build a platter surface lift on the skier’s right side of Golden Horn at Aspen Highlands next summer.
  • There’s an unconfirmed rumor that the Cyclone at Sunrise Park, AZ won’t operate this winter.  The 1983 Yan is North America’s longest triple chair at 7,982′ with 32 towers and 352 chairs.  I’ve reached out to Sunrise for comment and will update if I hear anything.
  • Montana Snowbowl’s TV Mountain expansion won’t open this season.
  • After building three new lifts in a row, the Hermitage Club finds itself in a cash flow crunch.

News Roundup: Mother Nature

  • Lawsuit filed by man who fell from Seven Springs chairlift in 2015 thrown out.
  • CWA joins Instagram and look at how many gondola cabins are waiting to leave the factory this fall!
  • Snowbasin now has live streaming webcams at both six-pack terminal construction sites.
  • “Time is of the essence,” Snow King GM says seeking approval for Summit Gondola and ski expansion.
  • I hit four awesome retro T-Baronly ski areas in Idaho last weekend.
  • Red Bull turns Swedish tramway into a rope swing.
  • Two Skytrac quad chairs reaching the highest point on the Dutch side of St. Maarten faced a huge test Tuesday, taking a direct hit from a Category 5 hurricane just ten days before their scheduled grand opening.  Skytrac says the lifts were designed to withstand 200 mph winds.
  • This was the view from the gondola Monday night as wildfire threatened Crystal Mountain.  The fire has already burned much of East Peak, inside the permitted ski area where Crystal sought approval to build a new lift in 2004.090420172030_l

Instagram Tuesday: Gondy

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

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News Roundup: Interalpin

  • Revelstoke homeowners aren’t happy lift development has stalled for almost ten years now.  The resort’s response identifies master plan lifts 1 and 11 as the highest priorities but notes construction of them is subject to market demand.
  • In an interview, new Crystal Mountain owner John Kircher says he wants to build a second gondola to Campbell Basin.
  • NY State Fair gondola continues to be targeted as an example of government waste.
  • Whaleback’s T-Bar project is a go.  The lift came from Plattekill, NY and will be installed by SkyTrans.
  • New Gatlinburg Sky Lift looks to be almost finished.
  • Poma reaches agreement to build new gondolas in Vietnam with the first next-generation Sigma Diamond EVO cabins introduced yesterday at Interalpin.  The new cabins offer more natural light and feature doors that slide rather than opening out.
  • Move over D-Line: the new Leitner Station is here.
  • LST gets another detachable contract.
  • Leitner launches urban gondola in Berlin.
  • Skier visits at Vail Resorts were down 2.8 percent this season but lift ticket revenue increased 7.4 percent.
  • Mi Teleférico opens $1.5 million Operations Control Center with 22 people monitoring 1,300 surveillance cameras on 66 screens and lightning detection system for four gondola lines.
  • Purgatory will add a mid-station to its Needles triple this summer.

News Roundup: Confirmed

  • $150 million Raymond James settlement includes $762,503 for Burke Mountain’s new Leitner-Poma T-Bar.
  • Power outage leads to rope evacuation of Loveland’s newest lift.
  • Steamboat gondola refurbishing begins  (I got to tour Northstar’s gondola this week which received a similar upgrade in 2015.)
  • Orlando Sentinel confirms Walt Disney World is building three Doppelmayr 10-passenger gondolas with six stations.
  • Crystal Mountain breaks away from Boyne Resorts, orders five additional gondola cabins and plans to build new Discovery and Gold Hills lifts in 2018.
  • Eldora is selling Hall and Heron chairs as six-pack construction begins.
  • Preview Oakland’s new $13 million restaurant accessible only by gondola.
  • Sunday River’s new owner commits to replacing Spruce Peak.
  • This week’s cities floating gondolas include Edmonton and Burlington, Vermont.
  • Fatzer delivers four 153-ton track ropes to Germany’s Zugspitze using two trucks linked together for the entire journey.

Instagram Tuesday: Cabins

Every Tuesday, we feature our favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

The Peak 2 Peak Gondola, against the epic backdrop of Garibaldi Provincial Park.

A post shared by Nathaniel Sisco (@nathanielsisco) on

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News Roundup: Six-Pack

Twenty Years of New Lifts at Crystal Mountain

There aren’t many ski areas in this country with as modern a lift system as Crystal Mountain in the Washington Cascades.  When I learned to ski at Crystal in the early ’90s, it was owned by a co-operative and featured a bunch of double chairs dating back to the ’60s and ’70s.  In 1997, the co-op sold itself to Boyne Resorts in hopes of bringing desperately-needed capital improvements to Washington’s largest ski area.

CrystalMountainWA

Modernize Boyne did.  In the first two years of ownership, the Kircher family brought Crystal the northwest’s first two six-packs.  Two years later the Green Valley double was replaced by a Doppelmayr high speed quad, the mountain’s fourth detachable.  In 2007, the Northway lift opened up 1,000 acres of new off-piste terrain.  Perhaps the biggest project of all was the addition of the 8-passenger, top-to-bottom Mt. Rainier Gondola in 2010.  Last summer, Crystal replaced its final remaining Riblet and Hall doubles with new fixed-grip lifts (one had been destroyed by an avalanche, leaving the mountain with no choice but to replace the only way to the summit.)  Now almost 20 years since Boyne arrived on scene, the average lift here is less than 15 years old.  It’s a far cry from many of Crystal’s northwest neighbors. Snoqualmie, for example, still operates 11 Riblet double chairs dating as far back as 1967.

CrystalMap
Today, Crystal Mountain operates a gondola, two six-pack detachables, two high speed quads and five fixed-grip chairs.
By now Crystal has implemented much of its 2004 master plan but a handful of lift projects remain on the horizon.  Two aging lifts still need to be replaced.  Rainier Express was Crystal’s first detachable, opened in 1988, and is nearing the end of its useful life. The plan is to replace it eventually, possibly with a six-pack.  The Discovery beginner lift is also slated to be replaced with a more learning-friendly and extended high speed quad.

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