- $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.
Every Tuesday, we feature our favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.
Time spent in the mountains with friends and family this holiday season is hard to beat. With beautiful views and fresh snow on the way, there is something for anyone to do. PC: @di_pulido . . . . . #crystalmountain #nobaddays #happyholidays #skicrystal #visitcrystalmtnwa #wanderwashington #findyouradventure
Looking down the Chandragiri hilltop station in Kathmandu, Nepal. . . #realnepal #nepal #nepali #mountains #himalayas #lovelynepal #beautifulnepal #discovernepal #travel #beautiful #adventure #natureporn #naturegram #natureaddict #instagood #passionpassport #earthfocus #yourshotphotographer #travelawesome #tourtheplanet #earthcapture #wilderness_culture #artofvisuals #folkgood #exploretocreate #earthfocus #livefolk #createcommune #agameoftones
- Granite Peak will announce a plan this fall for new runs and multiple new lifts.
- Crystal Mountain pushes back Kelly’s Gap high speed quad to 2021.
- James Coleman purchases Hesperus, adding to his collective that includes Arizona Snowbowl, Pajarito, Purgatory and Sipapu. A 1961 Riblet double from Mt. Bachelor is Hesperus’ only lift.
- Fatzer opens a new production plant.
- The United States overtakes France as the world’s most popular ski destination. The U.S. is the fourth largest lift market.
- Austin’s NPR station dedicates more than seven minutes to a discussion about urban cable. “Once we went to La Paz, we were up and running within 12 months,” Doppelmayr’s Randy Woolwine tells listeners.
- A six-pack rises at Arizona Snowbowl.
- Eagle Point unveils Vision 2020 with new lifts and expanded terrain planned.
- Next season might be the last for Blackcomb’s Horstman T-Bar due to glacial recession. This video demonstrates one of the pitfalls of the sinking T-Bar.
- SAM reports how Jay Peak employees have made the most of a bad situation amidst a federal fraud investigation.
- Mont Bellevue gets a Doppelmayr Eco quad with a return station design we haven’t seen before and two different-style bullwheels.
- Le Relais’ $5 million six-place chair is just about finished.
- Vail Resorts loses $65.3 million in the fourth quarter.
- Big Sky’s new six-pack will be named Powder Seeker.
- The first Poma EEZII-model compact detachable terminal is assembled in France.
- Whistler-Blackcomb releases Conflicted Obsessions documentary about climate change. “The gorilla in the room is the long-distance travel required to get to these special places,” admits W-B’s environmental resource manager.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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 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 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.