News Roundup: High Country

  • Watch LST Ropeways build its first detachable lift in three minutes.
  • A Swedish company has developed a new, more comfortable T-Bar carrier called Boardie.
  • Doppelmayr moves into new $62 million Wolfurt headquarters.
  • Grand TargheeJackson Hole, BrundageSun ValleyMt. Hood Meadows and Tamarack are operating a total of 13 lifts on August 21st for the first total solar eclipse visible from the United States since 1979.
  • Sunlight’s end-of-season survey includes some insightful tidbits:
    • “Sunlight is evaluating the addition of a high-speed detachable lift.”
    • “Understanding that lift ticket and season pass prices would likely increase with the addition of a high-speed lift, please rank how favorable this would be.”
  • Vail and Replay Resorts break ground on LIFT development set to anchor future detachable Sunrise lift at Park City’s Canyons Village.
  • Preliminary gondola tree cutting and construction work spotted at Walt Disney World.
  • Waterville Valley secures $7.5 million for future projects including multiple unspecified lift upgrades.  “To answer one burning question, we do have multiple options in development regarding the High Country lift,” the resort says on Facebook.
  • Utah sets another all-time record for skier visits.
  • Two new Skytracs in St. Maarten won’t open until late summer but are already getting rave reviews.
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Silver Star Announces New Gondola for 2018

Silver Star Mountain Resort in Vernon, British Columbia will build a Summit Gondola next year, ending a three-year drought for new lifts in the region.  The 8-passenger Doppelmayr will replace the Summit double, a 4,000′ Mueller built in 1970.  The lift will open in July 2018 and serve summer guests before opening to skiers and snowboarders for 2018-19. After the upgrade, Silver Star will operate one of the most modern lift fleets in Western Canada with seven Leitner-Poma and Doppelmayr lifts built since 2002.

A new gondola at Silver Star will complement the Comet Express six-pack with a 4.5 minute ride for both summer and winter visitors in the approximate location of the existing Summit double.

An initial fleet of 21 Omega IV LWI cabins in the five colors of the Silver Star logo will provide an uphill capacity of 1,200 passengers per hour, with the ability to add 22 more to meet future needs.  “These new cabins will whisk guests from the bottom to the top of the summit in a third of the time of the existing double chair,” says Silver Star Director of Operations and Maintenance Brad Baker. “The ride will now take four and a half minutes from village to summit traveling at five meters per second.”  Slope length will be 3,487′ and vertical rise 961′.  In a unique move, all foundations and the top terminal will be completed this fall with the remainder of the lift going in next spring in time to celebrate the resort’s 60th anniversary.  The addition of a gondola is a huge milestone for any resort and Silver Star will be no exception.

Doppelmayr to Build Arizona Snowbowl’s Third New Lift in Three Years

The new Hart Prarie quad at Arizona Snowbowl will be among the first Doppelmayr Alpinstars in a top drive configuration.

After debuting the Humphreys Peak Quad in 2015 and the Grand Canyon Express in 2016, Arizona Snowbowl will replace its Hart Prarie lift this summer, marking another major investment by owner James Coleman.  Surprisingly, the contract went to Doppelmayr and Snowbowl will operate new lifts from all three major manufacturers next winter.  In a blog post announcing the project, General Manager J.R. Murray noted, “Arizona Snowbowl enjoys having the best learn to ski and snowboard progression terrain in the entire western US with Hart Prairie boasting a wide open and gentle meadow, allowing beginners to learn and gain confidence on the slopes. Snowbowl is where Arizonans learn to ski and snowboard because of the fantastic and easy terrain.”  The new quad chair will only improve that offering.

Hart Prarie is a 1981 Riblet with center-pole double chairs, one of two such lifts remaining at the resort.  The new top drive, Alpinstar-model Hart Prarie will feature a Chairkit loading carpet, padded seats and footrests.  An 1,800 skier per hour capacity doubles that of the previous lift.  The alignment will be slightly shorter – 2,533 feet – with a vertical of 518′.

With new Skytrac, Leitner-Poma and Doppelmayr chairlifts built since 2015, Snowbowl will have increased uphill capacity by 85 percent next winter. Impressive indeed.

News Roundup: Pulse

  • New owners of Alpine Mountain, PA say they can only afford to keep one chairlift and plan to sell two others.
  • Mi Teleférico’s upcoming Purple and Orange UNI-G stations look super cool.
  • Dismantled skyride at Western Fair in London, Ontario may go to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
  • Ski Blandford is insolvent and may close.
  • Doppelmayr USA is hiring construction laborers for Beaver CreekCopper and Snowbasin projects; Leitner-Poma of America needs help at Breck, Keystone and Vail.
  • A mile-long gondola will connect Jerusalem’s New and Old cities beginning in 2021. The Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy site attracts 130,000 visitors every week.
  • Poma lands $100 million design-build-operate-maintain contract for phase one of urban gondola system in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
  • Sunday River’s stricken Spruce triple went to Lost Valley.
  • Stoneham’s Chinook T-Bar is going to Troll, BC.
  • A new double chair will replace Pallavicini soon at Arapahoe Basin.
  • Facing another six-figure landslide repair, Howelsen Hill looks toward new chairlift.

Stoneham Replacing Two Lifts with Doppelmayr Quad

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Stoneham, Quebec will build a new quad chair to replace this fifty year-old double and the T-bar next to it.
Finally, some news from Canada!  Resorts of the Canadian Rockies has announced two relics at Stoneham will be replaced with a Doppelmayr carpet-load quad in time for 2017-18.  The 1967 Poma double La Bordée and 1986 Doppelmayr T-Bar Le Chinook will be retired.  The new lift will be approximately 4,700 feet long with a vertical of 1,250′.   Stoneham’s other lifts include a Doppelmayr bubble detachable and two Poma fixed-grip quads.

stoneham-01This is big news as the last new lift built at Stoneham is 28 years old!   Thanks to Julien C. for the head’s up.

News Roundup: Replacements

  • Suit filed against Ski Liberty by family of boy who dangled from a chair for seven minutes after mis-loading.
  • Mi Teleférico’s four gondola lines transported 194,971 passengers last Wednesday, an impressive single day record.
  • Squaw|Alpine now wants an extension of permit for replacing Hot Wheels.
  • Doppelmayr remembers past CEO Artur Doppelmayr, who died May 12th.
  • Apparently the Utah Olympic Park is adding two new chairlifts this summer, although I am still trying to confirm.
  • Steamboat’s gondola rebuild is taking longer than expected and reopening has been pushed back two weeks to July 15th.
  • Vail Resorts will re-use chairs and towers from Keystone’s Montezuma Express in building the new Red Buffalo Express at Beaver Creek.
  • Saddleback Mountain Foundation needs $11.2 million to purchase Maine’s third largest ski area, including $3.2 million to replace the Rangeley lift with a fixed-grip quad.  So far, the group has only raised a fraction of that amount.
  • Sunday River’s new Spruce Peak triple will be a Doppelmayr Tristar, Boyne Resorts’ fourth.
  • Schweitzer works toward $6-8 million Snow Ghost replacement.
  • “It is not rocket science about lift geometry,” Aspen Council member says in frustration re: Lift 1A. “There is enough expertise in this community to know where a lift goes.”
  • Mont Ripley offers $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of arsonist(s) who damaged lift.
  • Longtime Whistler Blackcomb COO and Peak 2 Peak visionary Dave Brownlie is leaving to pursue new opportunities just seven months into Vail ownership.

Six Months After Flames, Gatlinburg Sky Lift Returns Friday

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This new and improved Gatlinburg Sky Lift replaces a Riblet double chair destroyed by wildfire on November 28th, 2016.  Photos credit: Everett Kircher

Two days shy of six months since an intentionally-set wildfire killed 14 people and destroyed more than 2,000 buildings near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the iconic Gatlinburg Sky Lift will reopen this Friday.  On November 28th, 2016, Sky Lift employees left the lift running on its auxiliary diesel as they fled the fire, saving the haul rope.  However, the top terminal and some towers were so severely burned that the entire lift needed to be replaced.For 62 years, Boyne Resorts has operated a chairlift on Crockett Mountain and the company chose a Doppelmayr Alpinstar triple chair for its third incarnation.  Previous versions were a Heron double recycled from Sugar Bowl in 1954 and Riblet double brought to Tennessee in 1991.

Boyne Resorts announced construction of the new $2.4 million lift in early February and received its operating permit less than three months later on April 27th.  Doppelmayr and Boyne collaborated to re-create the Sky Lift’s iconic appearance with 11 orange towers and 92 yellow chairs with wooden slats in place of galvanized ones.  Although guests cannot yet get off at the top due to ongoing construction, the new lift is sure to be as popular as it has been for generations.  When Boyne sold and leased-back the Sky Lift operation in 2005, it attracted 400,000 annual visitors and was valued at $19.9 million.  Not bad for a 1,300′ double chair!

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News Roundup: Turnover

  • Squaw seeks extension for permit to replace Red Dog lift.
  • MND Group turnover increases 15.1 percent year-over-year.  The company aims to double sales by 2020 partially through LST Ropeways subsidiary.  Referencing the new Cannon Mountain T-Bar in the latest magazine, MND notes “success has enabled LST to penetrate the US market, paving the way for other promising opportunities.”
  • Doppelmayr will begin building its next tri-cable gondola in December.  Who would have guessed Kenya would get a 3S before the United States!
  • Forest Service gives final green light for Breckenridge and Keystone six-place upgrades.
  • A slow landslide continues to move tower 6 of the Barrows lift at Howelsen Hill.
  • SE Group will study placement of Aspen Mountain’s future Lift 1A.
  • Denver Post publishes two part interview with Larry Smith of the CPTSB re: Granby Ranch.
  • The LiftDigital safety bar display system with integrated Wi-Fi will launch in Colorado for 2017-18.
  • New PomaLink newsletter features the Grand Canyon Express and a six-station gondola at a zoo in China.
  • Poma’s 2016 Reference Book includes LPOA installations but not Skytrac ones.
  • Mountain Creek files for bankruptcy protection with debts totaling $40+ million including $500,000 balance on 2012 Partek chairlift loan.
  • One of Heavenly’s original 1962 tram cars is for sale.  Email me if you’re interested.
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  • Artur Doppelmayr died Friday at age 95.  May he rest in peace.

News Roundup: Pass Wars

  • The latest Wir highlights Doppelmayr Connect, various drive concepts and the Sweetwater Gondola.
  • U.S. skier visits climbed 3.7 percent last season to 54.7 million.  479 ski areas operated in 2016-17, up from 464.
  • Silverton Mountain is not a fan of the Epic Pass.
  • Royal Gorge Bridge & Park considers chairlift down to the Arkansas River.
  • Intrawest re-invested 8 percent of revenues at its resorts between 2013 and 2017 (compared with 11 percent across Vail Resorts.)  The company had 173 interested buyers, 16 of which were ski industry players.
  • Early summer update from the Magic Mountain rebirth and Green Chair project.
  • Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group buys Frey AG Stans, a leading global provider of ropeway control systems.
  • Lifts from the defunct Talisman Mountain Resort have been sold; one is headed to Sunridge, Alberta.
  • Granby Ranch investigation update.
  • LA mayor suggests gondola to the Hollywood sign from Universal Studios.
  • Ghost Town in Maggie Valley, NC goes up for sale, including Carlevaro-Savio chairlift that last operated in 2012.
  • Nonprofit nearing purchase of Frost Fire, ND, hopes to repair two chairlifts and reopen skiing next winter.
  • Government considers building world’s longest gondola into the world’s largest cave in Vietnam.
  • Here’s a recap of what we missed at Interalpin.
  • Lutsen Mountains’ six-lift expansion plan moves forward.
  • The Denver Post reports a joint Aspen/Intrawest/KSL/Mammoth pass is in the works for 2018-19, meaning the Mountain Collective could lose seven members and 43 percent of its lifts.  The MAX Pass might fare better, losing the six Intrawest resorts and 85 lifts (20 percent.)  I chart one scenario below.

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Doppelmayr Releases 2017 Worldwide Book

Every Spring, Doppelmayr publishes a sweet book with pictures of and technical info for every installation the company completed worldwide in the prior year.  Often called the Worldbook, this year’s edition features 106 projects on 189 fascinating pages with particular emphasis on the company’s next-generation platform called D-Line.  Among the achievements realized by Doppelmayr and Garaventa in 2016:

  • Construction of eight new D-Line lifts including the first with direct drive and the first with chairs instead of gondolas.
  • A Garaventa tramway with the world’s largest cabins and the planet’s tallest lift towers across Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.
  • One of the steepest aerial tramways ever built alongside a Norwegian fjord.
  • The Giggijochbahn – a gondola with never-before-accomplished throughput of 4,500 skiers per hour at 6.5 m/s.
  • The five-station first line of Mi Teleférico phase two in La Paz, Bolivia.
  • The world’s only fully air-conditioned gondola system at the new Wynn Palace in Macau, a system which also makes five turns.
  • A five-passenger detachable chairlift in South Korea serving tobogganers instead of skiers.
  • The first ProTow, an innovative surface lift for mountain bike parks.
At the beginning of every Worldbook, Doppelmayr thanks its global customers with each of their logos, a page I always enjoy.

If you don’t happen to get the book in the mail as a Doppelmayr customer, luckily the company now publishes an online version of the Worldwide book for all to enjoy.  The pictures alone are worth your time.