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.
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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 this side of Europe 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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Instagram Tuesday: Making Snow

Finishing touches currently happening on our new high speed quad. #flattopflyer #6minutestothetop #powderhornmountainresort

A post shared by Powderhorn Mountain Resort (@skipowderhorn) on

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News Roundup: Paragliding Into a Tram Car

  • Okemo Mountain Resort announces new fixed-grip quad and conversion of the Jackson Gore Express into a bubble quad called Quantum 4.  Their press release (falsely) claims Okemo will be the first resort in North America with two bubble lifts.
  • The last two victims of a 2010 de-ropement at Sugarloaf settle their lawsuit with Boyne Resorts, or more likely their insurance company.  Next up: claims from the victims of this year’s rollback.
  • Mont Cascades’ new TC quad lift will be a Doppelmayr Eco-Drive.
  • Adanac Ski Hill in Ontario wants $1.8 million from taxpayers to replace their T-Bar.
  • Lutsen Mountains breaks ground on the most expensive lift project ever at a Midwest ski area.
  • Marshall Mountain, Montana is for sale for $2.95 million.  Its lifts – a Thiokol triple and Poma T-Bar – haven’t spun since the 2002-03 season.
  • The British Columbia Safety Authority releases its incident report on Crystal Mountain’s de-ropement and it’s not pretty.  The ski area has been closed ever since the March 1, 2014 incident.
  • Add San Diego to the growing list of cities that want to build a gondola.  This one would have 8-passenger cabins and two mid-stations.

Lift Profile: Northway at Crystal Mountain, WA

Crystal Mountain made headlines in 2007 when it decided to serve its largest-ever expansion with a brand new, $3 million fixed-grip double chair.  For perspective, 1985 was the last time a new double as long as Northway was built.

The Northway pod at Crystal is as big as most ski resorts.
The Northway pod at Crystal is as big as most ski resorts.

The Northway expansion added lift service to 1,000 acres of advanced tree skiing and bowls, an area bigger than most US ski areas.  “Northback,” as it was known had been open for years but required an epic traverse or bus ride back to the base area.  John Kircher of Boyne Resorts decided to build a lift but keep its capacity and speed low.  Only a handful of trails were cut in the Northway pod with no grading or grooming.  The result is awesome powder skiing with virtually no crowds.  There isn’t even a maze at the bottom of the lift.

The base terminal was built by helicopter and has no electricity.
The base terminal was built by helicopter and has no electricity.
All 19 towers were delivered by a K-Max helicopter.
All 19 towers were delivered by a K-Max helicopter.

The Doppelmayr CTEC double moves only 1,200 skiers per hour (Crystal’s workhorse six-packs move 3,600.)  Because it services exclusively advanced terrain, Crystal can get away spinning Northway at a quick 550 feet a minute.  That means 1,843 vertical feet in less than 10 minutes.  The bottom of the chair is located in the middle of nowhere with no road access or electricity.  With the exception of the top terminal, the entire lift was built with a spider excavator and helicopter.  As you crest the first ridge after boarding Northway, you realize how long it is.  At 5,422 feet, there are plenty of longer lifts out there but few that access such varied terrain.  Only once you reach the top do you feel like you are back at a ski area.

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