- Demolition begins on the only lift in Oklahoma.
- Utah’s new Wasatch Peaks Ranch now includes five lifts but will remain private and members only.
- Skeetawk, Alaska looks at used lifts in Europe for expansion.
- The project to bring a used gondola to Eaglecrest, Alaska is delayed until the 2025-2028 timeframe.
- Ikon Pass profiles a lift operator who has spent 20 years sleeping at the top of Mammoth’s Panorama Gondola.
- Mt. Shasta joins the Powder Alliance.
- Alta Sierra, California struggles to stay in business due to storms and road closures this season.
- Vail promotes the General Manager of Perisher to lead Whistler Blackcomb.
- Alterra names a new President and COO of Crystal Mountain, teases “new and upgraded ski lift infrastructure” and “the potential for expanded terrain.”
- Schweitzer lists Musical Chairs for sale.
- Two new investors take ownership stakes in Windham Mountain, promising new investment.
- An April update on Loon Mountain’s South Peak expansion.
News Roundup: Mixed Bag
- The Forest Service sends a notice of noncompliance to Montana Snowbowl over the Snow Park lift incident and response.
- Crystal Mountain’s President departs and Alterra reevaluates the announced Reimagine Crystal plan.
- Lutsen Mountains to retire the 10th Mountain triple.
- Hoodoo reports a Riblet clip ejection of a misloaded chair on the Hodag quad with no injuries to the rider(s).
- Mad River Glen’s Sunnyside double may get a mid-station.
- Le Massif completes a four hour rope evacuation of the Massif Express gondola, now closed for the season due to a gearbox issue.
- Mont-Sainte-Anne’s gondola will reopen tomorrow, four months after a cabin fell off.
- Board members resign from the Antelope Butte board of directors citing lift safety concerns.
- The Balsams says now is not the time to go to market.
- Woods Valley eyes installation of two used CTEC quads over the next few years.
- Big Sky shares photos of new tram cabins being fabricated in Switzerland.
- Two studies see the ropeway market growing around 10 percent annually over the next decade with the North American share growing to near 20 percent of the global total.
- Belleayre announces replacement of Lift 7 with a Doppelmayr quad.
News Roundup: Reimagine Crystal
- Crystal Mountain puts a timeline on Reimagine Crystal: Bullion Basin/Gold Hills expansion in 2023/24 and Campbell Basin Gondola/Mt. Rainer Gondola upgrade/Discovery shortening in 2024/25.
- Interesting terminals take shape in New Hampshire: a pancake-style return at Waterville Valley and a UNI G skin on an older Doppelmayr at Loon Mountain.
- Labrador Mountain and Song Mountain President Peter Harris defends the closure of Toggenburg Mountain.
- In Quebec, closed ski area Val Neigette and its Doppelmayr quad are for sale.
- More new trail maps showing new lifts: Arapahoe Basin, Big Boulder, Breckenridge, Loon Mountain, Steamboat and Stowe
- SunKid builds a new world’s longest conveyor lift.
- Lutsen’s new six pack will be called Raptor Express.
- The National Labor Relations Board will hold a hearing on Park City lift mechanics’ unionization effort November 1st.
- I join Tom Kelly on the Ski Utah podcast to talk about new lifts in Utah and more.
- The parent company of Grouse Mountain and Revelstoke and provides an update on the proposed Garibaldi at Squamish resort.
News Roundup: Flying High
- Sun Valley and Snowbasin ditch the Epic Pass, will be Ikon Pass and Mountain Collective partners beginning next season.
- Also for next season, Alterra pulls Mammoth, Palisades Tahoe and Sugarbush from the Mountain Collective Pass.
- Cascade Mountain lists the Mogul Monster triple for sale.
- New York State ski areas report a 26 percent increase in revenue so far this season.
- Newly nonprofit Skiland Alaska looks to raise $100,000 for upgrades to its chairlift.
- Jay Peak says it has two viable suitors currently.
- A great podcast features Andy Shepard of Saddleback taking listeners through the mountain’s closure, sale and reopening.
- The team behind Edmonton’s Prairie Sky Gondola says it’s working on another gondola in a different Canadian city.
- Fast Company features a story on gondolas as urban transportation gap fillers.
- Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory is quoted saying this season has gone “shockingly well” despite “pinch points.”
- Leaders in Alaska’s capital city vote to spend $2 million on a used pulse gondola for Eaglecrest Ski Area.
- Big Squaw owner James Confalone is ordered to pay $4.5 million in penalties for timber violations and failure to maintain the ski area.
- Alpine-X proposes a second indoor ski area in Dallas.
- Officials pause pursuit of a Gunstock expansion.
- Flying Yankee at Attitash will be down for the foreseeable future due to an issue with the tension system.
- The Colorado Sun catches up with me to talk about visiting every US ski area.
- A Panorama guest is helicoptered to a hospital after falling off the Mile 1 quad.
- Crystal Mountain confirms a $100 million capital plan will include new lift(s) and expanded terrain in 2023-24.
- The proposed Okanagan Gondola is already moving forward.
- Belleayre and Doppelmayr organize a major gearbox repair operation on the Belleayre Express.
- Skiers criticize staffing and operations at Hunter Mountain.
Alterra Announces $344 Million Capital Plan for 2022
Alterra Mountain Company today affirmed plans to open big new lifts in 2022 and more next year as it increases investment across its 14 resorts. This year’s $344 million plan includes $93 million in increased capacity and terrain expansion, $91 million for skier services upgrades, and $16 million in guest experience technology with a focus on Palisades Tahoe, Steamboat, Crystal Mountain, Mammoth Mountain and Deer Valley.
At Palisades Tahoe, the $65 million Base-to-Base Gondola will be completed this summer after two seasons of construction. The Leitner-Poma gondola will connect the two mountains of the resort for the first time, giving skiers and riders access to a combined 6,000 acres of terrain and making Palisades the third largest resort in North America. The 16 minute gondola ride will take skiers and riders between The Village at Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Lodge, reducing road congestion in the region and making it easier to enjoy both mountains in a single day. It is the first gondola of its kind in North America, with four terminals connecting two base areas via a climb of nearly 2,000 vertical feet.
Winter 2022-23 will also see phase two of Steamboat’s Full Steam Ahead redevelopment completed with $90 million of investment to include the relocation of the lower terminal of the Christie Peak Express and the first leg of the Wild Blue Gondola, which will take guests to the new Greenhorn Ranch learning center at mid-mountain.
Wild Blue will become the longest gondola in North America and the fastest 10-person gondola in the country. With the lower leg opening in 2022-23, and the upper leg opening in 2023-24, the state-of-the-art Doppelmayr D-Line gondola will feed skiers/riders through a newly created mid-station adjacent to Bashor Bowl with the final destination of Sunshine Peak. It will feature the first Omega V cabins in the United States. At a total length of 3.16 miles, the new gondola will increase the out of base capacity from 6,000 people per hour to 10,000 people per hour, getting skiers from bottom to top in 13 minutes. The recently re-graded Rough Rider/Bashor Basin area will be home to Greenhorn Ranch, an area dedicated to beginner skiers and riders. It will feature progressive terrain-based learning and a dedicated chairlift.
For winter 2023-24, 650 acres of advanced terrain will open on Pioneer Ridge, making Steamboat the second largest ski resort in Colorado. This expert, gladed terrain will be serviced by a new detachable chairlift.
At Washington’s Crystal Mountain, $100 million will be spent over the next five years. The largest investment ever made at Crystal will focus on greater access, more space and significantly enhanced skier services. Work will begin this spring with $25 million for additional parking and a new 25,000 square foot skier services facility called Mountain Commons. No lift projects were announced but Crystal Mountain President Frank DeBerry has made no secret his wish list includes a replacement for the Rainier Express, a new gondola to the summit and relocation of the current Mt. Rainier Gondola to Campbell Basin.
At Mammoth Mountain, summer 2022 will see ground and infrastructure work to facilitate the replacement of the Canyon Express at Canyon Lodge and Broadway Express at Main Lodge. Doppelmayr initially planned to build these lifts in 2020 before the Coronavirus pandemic postponed the project. The new high-speed six packs are planned to finally debut in winter 2023-24.
New for winter 2022-23 at Deer Valley, the Burns Express chairlift will debut at the Wide West learning area. This high speed chairlift will connect the Snow Park base area to Little Baldy Mountain, offering ski school access to more beginner teaching terrain and providing an additional option for skiers to navigate out of the main arrival area. The $6 million investment to improve the learning area on Wide West will also include enhancements to the existing Snowflake chairlift, installing and reconfiguring surface lifts and grading beginner terrain.
“This historic investment is clear evidence of our commitment to deliver a premier guest experience at our North American destinations and our engagement towards the long-term future of our mountains,” said Rusty Gregory, CEO of Alterra Mountain Company. “More than ever, we continue to infuse meaningful capital into projects that will transform our base areas while significantly improving our physical and digital on-mountain offerings to ensure that our guests experience the best of the mountains.”
Some previously-approved projects were absent from Alterra’s latest announcement, namely the Red Dog replacement at Palisades, Timber expansion at Tremblant and Pioneer Express upgrade at Winter Park.
News Roundup: Growing Pains
- Vail Resorts officially takes ownership of Seven Springs, Laurel Mountain and Hidden Valley.
- Vail faces a mountain of criticism for operational struggles from Colorado to Washington, Ohio, New Hampshire and beyond.
- Vail slashes operating days and/or hours at Crotched Mountain, Hidden Valley, Snow Creek, Boston Mills/Brandywine/Alpine Valley and Mad River Mountain due to employee shortages.
- Stevens Pass rope evacuates two chairlifts in one day citing power outages.
- Park City Chief Operating Officer Mike Goar sits down for an extended interview to explain some of the issues facing Vail.
- The Park City ski patrol union rejects Vail Resorts’ latest contract offer, fundraises for a possible work stoppage.
- Beaver Creek will open the McCoy Park expansion Monday.
- Vail applies with the Forest Service to replace the Summit Triple at Attitash with a four or six passenger detachable.
- Waterville Valley proposes building an MND T-Bar in the former World Cup Triple alignment.
- Monarch Mountain advances the No Name Basin expansion.
- No link but I’m told Montana Snowbowl is moving forward with building a lift from the base area up TV Mountain.
- Ditto for Windham Mountain replacing the Whiteway triple with a Doppelmayr D-Line detachable.
- Sandia Peak management says tram icing which led to a 14 hour evacuation was unprecedented.
- Crystal Mountain announces a lift reservation system, quickly changes course to parking reservations instead.
- Another of Iowa’s ski areas transitions from private to public ownership.
- Some 80 containers arrive from Europe for the Caribbean’s next big urban gondola.
- Sunshine Express at Steamboat is closed all week for a motor repair.
- Magic Mountain’s Red lift passes another inspection and load test, will reopen Saturday.
- Charles Skinner takes full ownership of Lutsen Mountains.
News Roundup: Life Behind Lifts
- Gunstock teases a multi-lift expansion with details to come in December.
- Magic Mountain won’t have summit access until at least December 18th due to ongoing lift projects.
- A CBS primetime reality show features an hour of ski area maintenance!
- Kirsten Lynch takes over as CEO of Vail Resorts.
- Sierra-at-Tahoe eyes an early 2022 reopening.
- A Mayflower construction update.
- Doppelmayr releases a new Wir magazine.
- The Cascade Skyline Gondola proposal gains a key endorsement.
- The final logging take place for the Eagle Peak expansion at Lookout Pass.
- Whistler Blackcomb highlights this summer’s big ticket lift maintenance projects.
- Sundance names two new quads Outlaw Express and Stairway.
- MND reports improved results with lift and snowmaking sales up 32 percent.
- Alberta Parks says it will open Hidden Valley this season in the absence of a private operator.
- Hickory, NY looks likely to reopen after six seasons.
- Big Sky’s new map is out showing Swift Current 6.
News Roundup: Moving Parts
- The Seattle Times runs a feature story on Vail Resorts’ operational challenges at Stevens Pass compared with Alterra at Crystal Mountain.
- Ridgeline Executive Group will continue running Granby Ranch following the sale to a new ownership group.
- The unique triangle gondola at Sterling Vineyards remains closed seven months after a wildfire with no estimate for reopening.
- Big Snow renames its quad chair in honor of General Manager Jim Haas and others who died of Covid-19.
- Two employees of the Georgian ski resort where a lift rolled back in 2018 have been charged criminally and face up to five years in prison.
- Visits to New York’s three state-owned ski areas were up 14 percent to 672,000 with revenue up 10 percent and expenses down 8 percent.
- Whiteface will replace the Bear and Mixing Bowl lifts with a $2.5 million Skytrac quad.
- Powder Mountain, Mt. Ashland and West Mountain join the Indy Pass, which topped 96,000 redemptions this season.
- Cherry Peak, Eagle Point, Red River and Snow Valley sign on to the Freedom Pass alliance, Toggenburg leaves.
- Another fire threatens Ski Apache, which is so far unscathed.
- We now know why the Mighty Argo Cable Car project is stalled. Owners have sued lenders, alleging breach of contract and a $4.5 million loss.
- The Routt National Forest approves Steamboat’s Wild Blue Gondola and Sundown Express replacement projects, subject to a customary objection period.
- Japan’s first urban gondola opens.
- Mi Teleferico celebrates seven years as La Paz’s urban gondola system, providing 328 million rides.
- Loon Mountain confirms the former Kancamagus detachable quad will replace Seven Brothers in 2022.
- Loveland closes Lift 8 for the season due to a mechanical issue.
- The only jigback tramway in Texas could make a return.
- Holiday Valley posts tons of photos of its latest lift replacement project.
- The first gondola components arrive in Squaw Valley.
News Roundup: Grab Bag
- Timberline Lodge evacuates 42 guests from the new Pucci detachable quad by rope.
- Another late day evac happens on Castle Mountain’s Tamarack chair.
- Mt. Spokane considers upgrading two 60 year old chairlifts.
- The seemingly cursed Gold chair at Nakiska goes down for a week (now back in action).
- Under new ownership, Sundance Resort eyes an out-of-base detachable.
- Bogus Basin plans expansion and lift upgrades in a new master plan coming later this spring.
- Dakota at Big Sky has been down since March 1st.
- The first of its kind Leitner 2S gondola undergoes testing in Germany.
- Ischgl, an early pandemic hot spot last year, gives up on opening this season.
- Vancouver’s transit authority picks a preferred alignment for the Burnaby Mountain Gondola.
- The Seattle Times profiles Washington’s first bubble chairlift.
- A transportation bill which includes Little Cottonwood funding heads to the Utah Governor’s desk.
- Once slated to close, Sleeping Giant now considers adding more lifts.
- Zincton Mountain Village, a proposed resort in BC, announces the purchase of a late model Riblet quad.
- Facing capacity challenges, Crystal Mountain eliminates unlimited access on the Ikon Base Pass.
- Magic Mountain needs some mid-’80s vintage Poma sheave assemblies to complete the Black Line quad. Give them a shout if you can help!
- Winter Park’s proposed lift replacements I mentioned last week are a Pioneer Express six place and Lariat conveyor.
- On a podcast, Indy Pass creator Doug Fish says more resorts are coming, including in Canada (along with a price increase.)
- During recent historic snow, the Portland Aerial Tram ran for 114 consecutive hours while other transit modes shut down.
- When the Disney Skyliner stops for a bit, you better believe it will make the news.
- Nitehawk looks for funding to replace its landslide-destroyed chairlift.
News Roundup: Four More Weeks
- I managed to completely miss an installation from last year – a used Doppelmayr quad at a publicly-owned hill in Lévis, Quebec.
- Bousquet acknowledges engineering issues with its chairlift project and offers passholders privileges at nearby ski areas until its new triple is complete.
- Ontario extends the closure of ski resorts another 28 days, forcing business like Mt. St. Louis Moonstone to make more difficult decisions.
- France’s 250+ ski resorts may not open at all this season.
- Austrian resorts expect business to plunge 75 percent this year, calling operating “philanthropic” rather than profitable.
- One of British Columbia’s largest resorts provides a sobering look at business: lodging occupancy down 87.5 percent, midweek skier visits down 84 percent and ski school down 96 percent.
- Here’s another 1A update from Aspen.
- As it negotiates with Vail Resorts, the Park City ski patrol union weighs attempting to unionize other work groups such as lift operators.
- Skeetawk remains closed for a second week following a lift malfunction.
- Kimberley reopens the Northstar Express after a successful multi-continent repair effort.
- Utah’s new Governor expresses support for a gondola in Little Cottonwood.
- A new lift garners rave reviews at Lake Louise.
- There’s tons of cool lift history in this feature on the legendary Lone Peak Tram.