News Roundup: Recycling

  • The Wallowa Lake Tramway makes the New York Times Daily 360 Postcard.
  • Doppelmayr’s new headquarters building is super cool.
  • You can follow along as Garaventa enters the home stretch building the record-breaking Eibsee Cable Car 2.0 in Germany.
  • There’s also a construction blog for Leitner’s 3S project in Zermatt.
  • Steamboat finally opened its gondola Monday, lamenting “we made a mistake by trying to set an opening date” and thanking guests for weeks of patience.
  • Sunshine Village reopened the same day following fire scare.
  • Bidding opens for construction of a four-stage, 10-passenger urban gondola in Santiago, Chile – a contract estimated to be worth $78 million.  When complete, Latin America will sport urban gondolas in Mexico City, Mexico (Leitner); Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (Poma); Medellín, Colombia (Poma); Caracas, Venezuela (Doppelmayr); Lima, Peru (Poma); Quito, Ecuador (Poma); La Paz, Bolivia (Doppelmayr); Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Doppelmayr and Poma) and Santiago, Chile (TBD.) Impressive.
  • The Roosevelt Island Tramway is going to one-car service for an extended platform replacement project.
  • This week’s Disney Skyliner construction update comes from the Kingdom Insider.
  • Beaver Creek recycles Drink of Water, reuses from Montezuma.
  • The Leitner-Poma Group’s striking new Symphony 10 gondola cabin has been spotted in the wild.  More photos are here (sign up required.)
  • A-Basin posts cool photos from a bullwheel bearing replacement project.
  • Troy Caldwell still wants to build a private ski area between Squaw and Alpine but as of this spring, he has a long way to go.
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Disney Unveils Bold Skyliner Gondola Plan

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A six-station Disney Skyliner gondola network will connect two parks with four vacation resorts at Walt Disney World, the company announced yesterday.

It’s official: North America’s largest-ever gondola network is coming to Walt Disney World in Orlando.  Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts announced the project in a Steve Jobs-esque keynote at a Disney fan convention in Anaheim yesterday. The name for the new system will be Disney Skyliner in a nod to the Skyway VonRoll gondolas which operated at three Disney Parks from the 1950s until 1990s.  “I’m proud to announce that we’re building a whole new transportation system,” Chapek said onstage to wild applause.  “The Disney Skyliner will soon give our guests a bird’s eye view of Walt Disney World.  Many of these gondolas will feature your favorite Disney characters and what a better way to get around the resort than with your pals in the sky.”  A simultaneous post on the Disney Parks Blog noted, “[This] new transportation system will add even more magic to your future vacation experiences.”

As rumored since February, there will be five stages connecting Disney’s Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach Resort, and new Riviera Resort to Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at EPCOT.  Whistler Blackcomb currently operates the most gondola sections in North America – six – but they are not contiguous and utilize varying technologies. The longest of three individual lines at Walt Disney World will have two angle stations, one of which will serve the all-new Disney Riviera Resort opening in 2019.  All three lines will meet at a hub on the south side of Caribbean Beach Resort, where guest can change cabins based on destination.  Renderings confirm Doppelmayr and CWA ropeway technology and this is probably Doppelmayr USA’s largest lift contract ever (excluding DCC rail-based systems like the Oakland Airport Connector.)  Air conditioning does not appear to be included but the Omega cabins will include more open windows than normal like those on the recently completed Arthurs Seat Eagle in Australia and California Trail at the Oakland Zoo Singapore Cable Car.

Disney Parks Chairman Bob Chapek shows off Skyliner’s five stages and six stations at the D23 convention yesterday.  Photo credit: Inside the Magic.

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News Roundup: Skyride

  • MND Group secures $6.7 million private investment to support future growth.
  • Whitewater’s new Leitner-Poma quad chair project update.
  • Sunday River blasts some rock to make way for Spruce Peak 2.0.
  • Timberline Helicopters, the company that flies the majority of lift towers in the West, plans to build a new $3 million home on 93 acres in Northern Idaho.
  • SeaWorld San Diego commemorates 50 years of operation of its VonRoll Skyride, one of only 11 remaining in the U.S.
  • Tragedy in Gulmarg, India as seven die following tree strike on the world’s second highest gondola.  The accident was blamed on an ‘act of god’ and the gondola deemed mechanically fine.  More trees will be cut before reopening.
  • Human error caused 14-year old girl’s fall from a chairlift at Six Flags Great Escape.  After video gets millions of views, editorial in the local paper calls for locking restraint bars.
  • Colorado tram board votes against disciplinary action in Granby Ranch case.
  • A Walt Disney World gondola update.
  • Much-maligned New York State Fair gondola project is dead.
  • Anakeesta load tests new Chondola.
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Wood-paneled terminal sections arrive at Breckenridge from Leitner-Poma for the new Falcon SuperChair. Photo credit: Benjamin Bartz

Saddleback is Back and Getting Two New Lifts

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The 4,550′ Rangeley double serves most of Saddleback’s terrain and will be replaced with a new Doppelmayr quad chair following the sale of the mountain to an Australian businessman.

The Majella Group of Australia has agreed to purchase Maine’s Saddleback, among the largest American resorts ever to go dark, and plans to build two new lifts as soon as possible.  Doppelmayr will install the lifts – a 1,500 pph Tristar fixed-grip quad to replace Rangeley, and a 1,200 pph T-Bar in place of Cupsuptic – a 1960 Hall. “The Rangeley Lift and T-Bar replacements have been carefully selected after a thorough analysis of the mountain operations,” Majella said in a press release. “We understand the importance of maintaining the serene trail experience and supreme trail conditions for which Saddleback is well known.”  Both lifts are being designed to be as wind-resistant as possible.

It’s been two years since the Berry family announced the possible closure of Saddleback if they could not secure financing for a new Rangeley lift.  The family spent some $40 million to upgrade the Kennebago and South Branch lifts to quad chairs and build a new base lodge between 2004 and 2008, but the business kept losing money with 80,000-100,000 annual skier visits.  By 2012, the Berrys put the mountain up for sale, asking $12 million.  With no takers, a Kennebago loan fell through in 2015 and the Berrys decided not to open again without a new lift serving the heart of the mountain.

Since 2015, sale rumors abounded and the nonprofit Saddleback Mountain Foundation attempted a crowdfunding campaign to buy the operation.  The group raised less than half of the $9 million needed for the mountain and a fixed-grip quad and confirmed last night they were not the buyer.  In the end, a more traditional investor emerged with plans restore Saddleback to its place as Maine’s third largest mountain with the goal of creating a premier four-season resort.  “We believe Saddleback requires a plan to create more lodging, more restaurants, and additional on-mountain opportunities,” Majella CEO Sebastian Monsour said today at the mountain’s base lodge, surrounded by locals and dignitaries from across Maine.

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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.

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.