New Snowbird Tram Cabin Damaged During Installation

One of the new cabins being installed on Snowbird’s Aerial Tram fell Saturday during installation, causing significant damage. Thankfully the incident occurred in a closed construction area at the base of the mountain and no one was injured. Snowbird said the root cause was some sort of equipment malfunction. “An investigation is under way to determine where the malfunction occurred,” the resort said in a statement. Upgrades to the tram are being carried out by Doppelmayr/Garaventa, the original manufacturer of the tram. The project includes new cabins with rooftop viewing decks, new controls, bullwheels and other upgrades.

The modern red and blue cabins were manufactured in Switzerland by CWA Constructions and had just arrived in Utah. Snowbird said Doppelmayr and CWA will work to replace the likely damaged beyond repair red cabin in time for the 2022-23 winter season. Snowbird and Doppelmayr are also also working on a plan to have at least partial tram service for this summer. The tram was originally scheduled to re-open with new cabins in late June.

Aerial tram cabins are custom built with long manufacturing lead times. In 2012, an Alyeska tram car was destroyed after hitting a tower in high winds. Service resumed about six weeks later with one cabin and a second car was installed and operational about five months after the incident. In September 2018, a brand new tram cabin in Germany was written off following a training accident. That tramway reopened just over three months later with a newly-manufactured cabin from CWA.

New Tram Cabins Coming to Snowbird

The iconic red and blue tram cars which first came to Little Cottonwood Canyon in 1971 are being replaced. “After 50 years of a job well done, it’s finally time for the original Tram cabins to become literal snowbirds and enjoy some much-deserved retirement,” Snowbird announced today. It is estimated the original cabins have traveled 794,994 miles, or the equivalent of traveling to the moon and back over one and a half times.

Manufactured by CWA in Switzerland, the new cabins will feature floor-to-ceiling windows and a modern design. During the summer months, the tram will sport three 3-foot by 3-foot glass floor panels and an open air rooftop balcony for up to 15 people. “The new Tram cabins pay homage to the original Red and Blue Trams while incorporating a fresh, sleek design and a few extra bells and whistles,” said Snowbird.

The last day to ride the current tram cabins will be April 3rd. The new cabins are already complete and currently being shipped to Utah. Upon arrival in April, the cabins will be installed and tested with re-opening of the tram planned for late June.

Sea to Sky Gondola to Reopen June 11th

Two intentional haul rope cuts and a global pandemic aren’t keeping British Columbia’s Sea to Sky Gondola from its mission of carrying guests high above Howe Sound. The lift will once again open to passengers a week from Friday with enhanced health and security measures in place.

The gondola was forced to close September 14th, 2020 when its haul rope was intentionally cut. Shockingly, this was the second such crime mirroring a similar incident in August 2019. The gondola first reopened Valentine’s Day 2020 only to be shuttered again by the pandemic the very next month. It reopened for a second time amid Covid last May, catering to locals and passholders. After the cable was cut a second time, Fatzer again worked to provide a new haul rope while CWA manufactured 25 new cabins. “Needless to say, the past eight months have been extremely challenging for everyone,” read a reopening announcement on the Sea to Sky website. “We would like to thank our fantastic Sea to Sky community and industry partners who, despite their own challenges, have supported us every step of the way.”

“We have implemented extensive updates to our security system, including a professional in-house security team; 24-hour surveillance of all infrastructure and refined our detection and response capabilities in partnership with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,” said the gondola. “Our security architecture is extraordinary in the lift industry and has evolved after extensive consultation with security experts. We will not be disclosing all of the details of our security system; however, by design, we will provide a safe experience for everyone.” 

The gondola will continue to adhere to all Covid public health orders and travel advisories as it reopens, hopefully for good. A $250,000 reward remains in place for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for the 2019 and 2020 downings.

Skyliner Begins Flying at Walt Disney World

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Nearly 300 gondolas joined the transport fleet at the world’s most visited resort this morning, commencing an exciting new era for the U.S. ropeway scene.  The milestone comes more than two years since construction began and almost 50 years from when a simpler VonRoll gondola system first opened at Walt Disney World Resort.

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Crews fired up all three Skyliner lines pre-dawn, giving guests their first opportunities to skip bus rides and explore multiple parks in one day.  Connecting Epcot and Hollywood Studios with four resort hotels, the system is sure to become among the most-ridden gondolas in the world.

This is the second D-Line detachable system from Doppelmayr to open in the Americas following Big Sky Resort’s Ramcharger 8 launch last December.  Although the Austrian builder maintains a strong presence as maintenance contractor for the Skyliner, you won’t find the Doppelmayr name and logo prominently displayed here.

The cabins are highly customized CWA Omega IV models seating up to ten passengers.  About half of them feature wraps with characters from Disney, Pixar and Marvel movie franchises.

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Lift Makers Show Off New Products at Interalpin

The biennial Interalpin conference kicked off today in Innsbruck, Austria with alpine technology brands showcasing their latest and greatest to customers.  I am just following from afar but this year’s show is already proving to be monumental with major new products and initiatives being unveiled.

Leitner launched a redefined 2S gondola which is being positioned as an economical middle ground between a monocable lift and a 3S.  The reimagined bicable gondola utilizes standard monocable drive components, tensioning systems and cabins but with a single track rope added.  This allows lifts to traverse much longer spans with more cabins than a standard gondola system.

The terminals are of modular design with the exterior designed by Pininfarina.  A new carriage utilizes synthetic rollers and takes cues from the popular LPA grip.  On the lattice-style towers, sheaves are isolated for vibration dampening and track ropes rest on synthetic profiles.  Leitner has also developed a new system for track rope slipping which it calls “simple, safe and time saving.”  I find this product exciting as 3S gondolas are simply too expensive for many operators, as evidenced by their complete lack of adoption in the United States.

Leitner also showed off its next generation premium chair called Evo.  It comes with three bubble color options, three bar styles and two different kinds of upholstered seats.

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News Roundup: 3S

CWA and Doppelmayr Introduce Omega V

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On the heels of building its 50,000th Omega gondola cabin, CWA Constructions introduced the fifth generation of an icon yesterday.  Omega V features updated design language and is highly customizable for monocable gondola installations going forward.  Omega first debuted back in 1983 and the the rest is history.  The Omega IV joined the dynasty in 2007 and in just a dozen years became the chosen carrier for 29 gondolas in the United States and Canada.  “The new cabin features the unmistakable Omega shape which merges seamlessly with any of its surroundings. The cabin has been completely redeveloped while retaining the core values of a true Omega,” Doppelmayr says.

 

Designed with 10 passenger D-Line systems in mind, The V will become the global standard for snow, tourism and urban installations by the Doppelmayr Garaventa Group, of which CWA is a member.  The changes I noticed first were the suspension going below the roof line and the bench seats being swapped for individual places (each seat is 18.1 inches or 460 mm wide, more than you’ll find in a typical economy airline seat.)  The V has new ergonomic ski rack choices, two bumper options and wider doors that open to 35 inches (900 mm.)  A single door can hold up to six pairs of powder skis or five with a snowboard lot.  An interior bike rack is also available.

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News Roundup: Next Generation

  • The above $52 million masterpiece and highest-ever 3S opens for business in the shadow of the Matterhorn.
  • The Leitner-Poma Group’s sixth tricable gondola is set to carry commuters between three stations in Toulouse, France from 2020 and will cost $94.5 million to build.
  • Alterra closes on its purchase of Crystal Mountain.
  • A lift operator and his employer, Killingon/Pico, are sued following a loading mishap.
  • An eighth urban gondola line opens in La Paz and carries 72,740 riders on its first day.
  • CWA teases Omega V, the next evolution of the world’s best selling gondola cabin.  While we wait to see what it looks like, check out hundreds of CWA designs from the past 75 years.
  • The Palm Springs Tram gets a new 13,500′ x 45 mm upper haul rope from Fatzer.  Thanks Kirk D. for the photos.

  • Horseshoe Resort’s retired 1989 Doppelmayr detachable quad hits the used market.
  • Whistler Blackcomb’s 2018-19 trail map shows what $52 million worth of new lifts looks like.
  • Read up on Sun Peaks’ new Orient quad here.
  • Lone Mountain Land Company eyes two more lifts on the Spanish Peaks side of Big Sky Resort and nine in Moonlight Basin.
  • Revelstoke’s newspaper looks into rumors of a gondola project on Mt. Begbie.
  • The City of Los Angeles will study two Hollywood gondola ideas.
  • Another Disney Skyliner station is nearly finished with tons of windows.
  • Windham names its new lift Westside Six.  I stopped by last week to check out the progress.

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.

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