The Highlands to Build First Six Place Bubble Lift in the Midwest

The fifth Boyne Resorts property to launch a D-Line detachable will be The Highlands, Michigan come 2023. Camelot 6 will include the first modern bubble chairs in the Midwest and the first fully automated safety bar system in the United States. Ergonomically designed D-Line seats will also feature heating and individual footrests. The lift will be the fastest in the Midwest with a line speed of six meters per second and ride time of just three minutes.

The flagship chairlift will replace three Riblet triples – Camelot, MacGully and Valley – all of which date back to the 1960s and the earliest days of triple chairs. Unlike the current Camelot, the new Doppelmayr will extend to the top of the Upper Camelot slope on the southern end of the mountain.

The Camelot zone features some of The Highlands’ most popular beginner and intermediate terrain adjacent to the Day Lodge. Appropriately, Camelot 6 will feature the first fully automated closing, locking and opening bar mechanisms in the US in addition to a height-adjustable loading conveyor. “We’re coming full circle in lift innovation from the world’s first bubble chairlift in 1963, to the Midwest’s first modern bubble lift with unrivaled guest comfort, speed, energy efficiency, and safety in 2023,” said Mike Chumbler, President and General Manager of The Highlands. “This will be the most kid-friendly and safest lift ever built. The addition of Camelot 6 will transform the guest experience on the southern end of our slopes for all levels of skiers and riders,” he added.

Camelot will become the fifth Boyne destination to debut Doppelmayr D-Line technology. Big Sky Resort, Boyne Mountain, Loon Mountain and Sunday River all feature six and eight passenger D-Line detachables, many with bubbles and heated seats. While Alterra, Vail Resorts and other operators have also purchased D-Line lifts, Boyne’s level of commitment to the technology remains unrivaled in North America.

Camelot 6 is the first significant on mountain investment as part of The Highlands’ Transformational Journey, a vision guiding resort growth with an array of new offerings and enhancements through the year 2030. More lift upgrades are expected to follow in the coming years.

Camelot 6 will debut for the 2023-24 ski season. Once complete, it will serve both day and evening skiers as well as becoming the primary access lift for summer sightseeing and mountain biking.

Doppelmayr Introduces TRI-Line Three Cable System

A Swiss ski resort will become the launch customer for a new hybrid ropeway design by Doppelmayr. TRI-Line (pronouned “treeline”) will combine the benefits of a tri-cable 3S ropeway with Doppelmayr’s D-Line detachable generation. The new system offers throughput of up to 8,000 passengers per hour with a smaller footprint and lower cost than a 3S. “The TRI-Line is a detachable continuous-movement system and a compact further development based on two proven ropeway systems,” explains Peter Luger, head of TRI-Line development in Wolfurt. “It combines the benefits of the D-Line with those of the high-capacity 3S system.” The concept is similar to Leitner’s new 2S system but utilizes two track ropes rather than one. Doppelmayr notes two track ropes provide a stable running surface and the highest wind stability. Multiple ropes allow for very long spans between towers, a hallmark of 3S systems.

TRI-Line cabins will combine elements of CWA’s newest Omega V gondolas with those of Atria 3S cabins. The new cabins will accommodate up to 20 passengers in a 12 seated, 8 standing configuration. The carriage will utilize two D-Line detachable grips and eight running wheels. Cabins can be ordered with electronic sliding doors on two sides for high capacity and urban applications.

TRI-Line will utilize D-Line stations modified to accommodate track ropes and larger carriages. The new system will feature tubular towers rather than lattice towers. In addition to reducing tower footprints, this brings advantages in the construction phase such as the suitability of the components for air transport. Direct Drive gearless technology, Doppelmayr Connect controls and AURO autonomous operation are all compatible with TRI-Line.

The first TRI-Line installation is already underway at Hoch-Ybrig, Switzerland replacing a 55 year old reversible tramway. “With the TRI-Line, we’ve found a ropeway system that meets all our requirements – and does so for a reasonable price,” said Urs Keller, CEO of Hoch-Ybrig. “While a monocable gondola would have been an option from a technical point of view, it would have entailed various challenges with our particular terrain and therefore been difficult to build. The 3S lift, as an alternative, was beyond our budget. The TRI-Line is compact and can cope with our wind conditions thanks to the 3S benefits, which is a decisive criterion for our important feeder lift. Thanks to the new cabins with their comfortable seats and the generously proportioned glazing, we can now offer our guests a far higher level of comfort.”

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Park City Mountain Appeals Lift Approval Revocation

Park City Mountain on Wednesday appealed the Park City Planning Commission’s decision to revoke approval of the permit to upgrade the Silverlode and Eagle chairlifts, which were scheduled to be built this summer. “The City Planning Director made the right decision to issue this permit, supported by her extensive, four-month-long analysis and the advice of three outside experts,” said Sara Huey, Vail Resorts Senior Manager of Communications in a statement. “There is no evidence that she made a mistake, and we believe her decision will be upheld in this next step in the process.” Silverlode was scheduled to become Vail Resorts’ first eight passenger and first D-Line chairlift in North America and Eagle was to be a detachable six with a mid unloading station. The appeal was filed in District Court.

Four citizens appealed the initial approval, arguing the project should not have been approved by administratively by city staff. They also questioned the degree to which the new lifts would increase traffic and said the mountain’s parking mitigation plan was insufficient. The residents’ appeal was granted by a vote of 3 to 1 at a June Planning Commission meeting. “While we disagreed with the outcome, we respect the right of four residents to appeal the Planning Director’s decision and likewise we have the right to appeal the Planning Commission’s decision,” continued Vail’s statement today. “In parallel with this appeal, we, of course, remain committed to working with the City to explore options to ensure that the resort moves forward with these important replacements of equipment that was installed many decades ago.”

While the process plays out, Doppelmayr and Park City are placing lift equipment which has already been delivered into storage. When I stopped by last week, parts were being sorted and loaded onto trailers.

Brundage Announces Centennial Express Project

New owners of Idaho’s Brundage Mountain Resort will complete their first major capital project next year, installation of a detachable quad replacing the Centennial triple. The soon-to-be-retired CTEC was built in 1990 and takes 14 minutes to ride. The new lift, which will be called the Centennial Express, will cut ride time to six minutes and increase uphill capacity from 1,300 people per hour to 1,800 people per hour. All of Brundage’s lifts are Doppelmayr and the new lift will be as well.

“Having two high-speed quads in the base area gives us more flexibility and redundancy for moving people up the mountain, which is especially important on busy days and holidays and during challenging weather conditions,” said Brundage General Manager Ken Rider. “The loading experience will be so much smoother – especially for families – which will make some of our best terrain infinitely more accessible,” he continued. The lift will service 1,616 vertical feet of intermediate and advanced terrain.

Brundage was acquired by a small group of Idaho-based investors two years ago and the Centennial Express is their first lift upgrade. “When the new ownership group formed in November 2020, we took a long, hard look at the immediate and future needs of our beloved Brundage Mountain,” said mountain President Bob Looper. “Our priority is to maintain the low-key character of Brundage, while building toward a sustainable future. Keeping lift lines to a minimum and keeping slopes uncrowded is a top priority, and upgrading the Centennial lift is a key first step in improving and expanding our lift infrastructure.”

The ownership group plans to invest between $25 and $30 million dollars over the next 2-3 years with more projects to be announced in the coming months. Centennial Express is scheduled to debut for the 2023-24 winter season.

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Park City Lift Projects Blocked

The Park City Planning Commission voted 3-1 tonight to grant an appeal of two approved lift projects at Park City Mountain. First announced in September 2021, the new Eagle six pack would have featured a mid-unloading station and a new Silverlode lift would have become the first eight place lift constructed by Vail Resorts. Both detachables were set to be built by Doppelmayr and Silverlode was slated to be a D-Line model. The projects were part of the Epic Lift Upgrade, a 21 lift modernization initiative across Vail Resorts.

The appeal focused on a decades-old agreement with a cap on Comfortable Carrying Capacity between Park City Mountain Resort and previous owner Powdr. At issue was the degree to which new lifts create new demand for skiing. Vail argued the projects were simple lift replacements and would pull skiers off of the current 3 Kings lift in addition to three removed lifts. Appellants said the projects would induce new demand for parking and cause traffic. Normally chairlift replacement projects do not make it to the Planning Commission and are approved by city staff. The appeal was brought by four citizens, triggering elected officials’ involvement.

New Park City Mountain Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Deirdra Walsh blasted the move in a late night statement. “Those opposed to these important enhancements to the guest experience have created a false narrative that the replacement of aged infrastructure with modernized lifts will draw crowds,” she said. “Chairlift tourism does not exist – skiers and riders just want to spend more time on Park City Mountain’s vast terrain and less time in line. Investment in infrastructure is a critical part of the guest experience at Park City Mountain – and we are deeply disappointed that the City is now blocking that investment at the last minute.”

Luckily the lack of approval and threat of appeal kept Doppelmayr and Park City from removing the outgoing Eagle and Silverlode lifts, which will remain in service. Only preliminary construction work had taken place including fabrication of foundation elements in Park City’s parking lot. Both lifts were ordered many months ago and well into production, leading to questions about the future of the euipment. “We are considering our options and next steps based on today’s disappointing decision,” Park City said, adding that new lifts at Park City would not move forward until at least 2023.

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