News Roundup: Resources

  • Amid zip line dispute, Peak Resorts threatens to close Hidden Valley, remove five chairlifts and sell the land to a residential developer.
  • “I’m very confident we’re going to have new resources we haven’t had in previous years,” Steamboat COO says of Crown/KSL ownership.  Deer Valley President and COO Bob Wheaton makes similar comments in Park City.
  • Saddleback sale to Australian firm still hasn’t closed.
  • Bear Valley’s six-pack looks great in green and now has a name: Mokelumne Express.
  • Who says detachable terminals must be symmetrical?  Leitner experiments in Europe.
  • T-Bar area in Edmonton, Alberta shuts down.
  • At the end of a tough year, Granby Ranch goes up for sale.
  • New Heavenly trail map confirms Galaxy won’t spin again this season, leaving a big hole in Nevada.
  • Epic Passes account for 43 percent of Vail Resorts revenue.
  • New lifts at the Yellowstone Club get names: Eglise, Great Bear and Little Dipper.  A few hundred families now enjoy the 14th largest lift fleet in the country.
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News Roundup: Transformative

  • With The Beavers expansion, Arapahoe Basin ditches painted trail map for a VistaMap.
  • The BBC produces a fantastic 23-minute podcast explaining the success of Mexicable, the newest urban gondola built by Leitner Ropeways.
  • You can watch Belleayre’s gondola take shape live on their webcam. More recent photos are here.
  • The New York State Fair’s Broadway Skyliner appears to be a relocated Stadeli. I’m thinking it’s Bucksaw from Sugarloaf.
  • The latest from Orlando.
  • SNOW Operating to take over operations at Mountain Creek.
  • To compensate for a late July gondola opening, Steamboat extends “summer” season until late October.
  • Bob Wheaton says being part of a larger resort group will allow Deer Valley to negotiate better prices on lifts.
  • Lift operator and friends sentenced to probation and ordered to pay $96,000 in restitution for stealing and selling $116,000 in lift downtime vouchers from top shacks at Heavenly and Northstar.  Vail Resorts has since changed the way it handles the vouchers companywide.

Aspen/KSL Venture Buys Deer Valley

The new ski empire backed by the owner of Aspen Skiing Company along with KSL Capital Partners has reached a deal to purchase Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.  The news follows the group’s combination of Intrawest, Mammoth Resorts and Squaw Valley, and brings together 13 mountains rivaling the scope of Vail Resorts.  Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed and it does not include Solitude, which the Deer Valley partners bought in 2015.  A new name and brand for the combined Aspen/KSL venture, currently known as Hawk Holding Company, will launch sometime this fall with a unified pass product expected to follow next spring. “Deer Valley Resort is one of the pre-eminent mountain resorts in the world and is a tremendous addition to our existing portfolio,” said David Perry, president and chief operating officer of the new ski conglomerate in a press statement. “Prior to this acquisition, we were able to offer our guests exceptional experiences throughout most of North America’s major ski regions, but we did not have a resort in Utah, a state that is renowned for great skiing and mountain town life.”

Bob Wheaton, Deer Valley’s president and general manager, noted “joining this portfolio of resorts will enable Deer Valley to build upon its outstanding traditions and further enhance our ability to provide our guests with a world class skiing experience. I look forward to working with them as we develop our vision for the future of the resort and the new company.”  The still all-but-legally nameless company’s coast to coast portfolio now includes:

  • Alpine Meadows, California
  • Bear Mountain, California
  • Blue Mountain, Ontario
  • Deer Valley, Utah
  • June Mountain, California
  • Mammoth Mountain, California
  • Snow Summit, California
  • Snowshoe, West Virginia
  • Squaw Valley, California
  • Steamboat, Colorado
  • Stratton, Vermont
  • Tremblant, Quebec
  • Winter Park, Colorado

A new 2018-19 season pass product could also include the four Aspen mountains, which are separately owned by the Crown Family.  With Ajax, Buttermilk, Highlands and Snowmass included, the pass would get you on 229 lifts in North America, exactly the same number as next year’s Epic Pass.  The acquisition of Deer Valley is expected to close by the end of the year.

One Wasatch: How Four Lifts Could Link 18,000 Acres

1318848If you’ve never driven over 9,700′ Guardsman Pass in the summer, you might not realize just how close Brighton Ski Resort is to the upper reaches of Park City Mountain. In fact, from Brighton’s fire station to the top of the Jupiter lift is less than 7,000 linear feet. It’s this reality and a similar one in Alta’s Grizzly Gulch that makes Ski Utah’s One Wasatch concept tantalizingly close to becoming reality.  But the feeling that the Wasatch just isn’t that big also has environmental groups scrambling to prevent any more of these mountains from becoming ski runs.  The challenge for Save Our Canyons, the Sierra Club and others is that all the land needed to complete One Wasatch is already in the private hands of Royal Street Land Company (owner of Deer Valley,) Iron Mountain Associates (developer of The Colony) and Alta Ski Lifts Co.

one wasatch overview
Only four new lifts, marked in orange, would be needed to connect six ski resorts in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains.

Over the Pass

I’m convinced Park City and Brighton will be connected first.  Ski Utah calls the two lifts needed for this connection Guardsman A and Guardsman B.  They would rise from a common point adjacent to Guardsman Pass Road between Brighton and Park City’s Jupiter pod on land owned by Royal Street a.k.a. Deer Valley. Operationally, it would make the most sense for CNL/Boyne to build and operate these lifts as part of Brighton.  Guardsman A, which would need approval from UDOT to cross State Route 190, would likely be a detachable quad approximately 4,065′ long with a vertical rise of 740′ ending near the top of Jupiter.  Guardsman B would rise back towards Brighton and be a detachable quad about 3,800′ long with a vertical of 1,235′.

Guardsman A+B
This view shows the two lifts needed to connect Park City Mountain to Brighton. Guardsman A is on the left and Guardsman B on the right.

Royal Street Land Company has a strong interest in completing the Guardsman connection because it now also owns Solitude.  With Guardsman in place, a Deer Valley skier at the top of Lady Morgan Express could ride 4 lifts (Pioneer and Jupiter at Park City, Guardsman B and Milly Express at Brighton) and be at Solitude in less than an hour.  The return trip would be almost as easy – Summit Express to Great Western Express to Guardsman A and Park City Mountain, which already abuts Deer Valley.  Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County would both need to approve the Guardsman lifts before construction could begin.

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Turning Lifts with Sheaves Instead of Stations

We’re used to lifts that run in a perfectly straight line between terminals but sometimes a lift just has to have a turn.  Common reasons for this uncommon occurrence include buildings in the preferred alignment and challenging property lines.  Most lifts with turns are detachable systems with angle stations which are very expensive.  But not all lifts that need to turn require loading or unloading mid-way.  In a handful of these cases, lift manufacturers have avoided the need for angle stations or extra bullwheels by designing towers with canted sheaves.

Look closely at the very top of Six Shooter at Big Sky. The last few towers are in a different alignment than the rest of the lift.

The first company to use this trick was Riblet with Chair 5 at Breckenridge way back in 1970 1986. Closely-spaced towers 10A, 10B and 11 have angled sheaves in a compression-support-compression setup.  I’m not sure of the exact angle of the turn on Chair 5 but its a couple of degrees.  (Edited to add later: the lower terminal and towers of Chair 5 were moved in 1986, 16 years after the lift was first built.)

If you look closely, the Baldy Express at Snowbird does not run in a straight line. Don't worry, this was by design and it's been done a number of times.
The Baldy Express at Snowbird also does not run in a straight line.  It’s by design!

Most of the lifts that turn using angled sheaves were built by Doppelmayr CTEC and its predecessor Garaventa CTEC and turn less than five degrees.  A turn is typically accomplished over three towers with the middle of the three being a depression assembly.  The Cabriolet at Park City (formerly Canyons) was the first modern lift with this setup and opened in 2000, connecting the main parking lot to village.  Its five degree turn was required due to private property lines and existing buildings.

Canted sheaved on the Cabriolet at Park City, a 2000 Garaventa CTEC Stealth detachable.
Canted sheaves on the Cabriolet at Park City, a 2000 Garaventa CTEC Stealth detachable.

A year after the experiment at The Canyons, Garaventa CTEC built another detachable with a turn for Snowbird.  The Baldy Express turns between towers 10 and 12 again due to private property lines.  The first six pack with a turn was the Six Shooter at Big Sky (formerly Moonlight Basin) which was built in 2003 and has a couple degree turn between towers 24 and 26.  I’ve heard Six Shooter’s turn was due to a surveying mistake that would have put the top terminal on Big Sky Resort’s property.  Doppelmayr CTEC engineered the turn rather than re-doing a bunch of tower bases.  The irony here is that ten years later Big Sky ended up buying the land and lifts anyways.

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Instagram Tuesday: Big Lifts

Out with the old! #ValleyHouseProject

A post shared by Sugarbush Vermont (@sugarbush_vt) on

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New Roundup: Ouch!