News Roundup: Changing of the Guard

Advertisements

Disaster Strikes the Sea to Sky Gondola

gondola-down
Photo credit: Kirby Brown via Squamish Chief

Something terrible happened to the Sea to Sky Gondola overnight and police say it was likely an intentional act.  General Manager Kirby Brown told the Squamish Chief that a worker heard a loud noise around 4:30 am and later found gondola cabins on the ground.  “We’re just in the early moments of investigating how that could possibly happen,” he told the newspaper.  “Certainly, early indications are that there was no environmental or maintenance mechanism that could have caused it.  It points toward a conclusion that somebody interfered with the lift.”

No one was on the 7,000 foot long gondola at the time.  The Doppelmayr eight passenger installation opened in May 2014 to carry sightseers and hikers above Howe Sound near Squamish, British Columbia.  Not everyone was happy about the project when first proposed due to its proximity to the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park.  The gondola proved popular, however, and just this spring more cabins were added to bring the total number to 31.

At a 3:00 pm press conference, Kara Triance with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said a criminal investigation is underway.  “At this time we believe the cables were cut and this was a deliberate act of vandalism,” she said.  The 52 millimeter haul rope was completely severed and the majority of cabins crashed to the ground.  Teams are attempting to survey the entire lift line for clues and are asking the public to stay away.  Technical Safety BC and Doppelmayr are also assisting with the investigation.  Anyone with information on this crime is asked to call the RCMP at 604-892-6100.

Continue reading

Wind Blamed for Occupied Chair Falling in Australia

A lone skier was only slightly injured when the quad chair he was riding detached and fell some thirty feet near the top terminal of the Gunbarrel Express at Thredbo earlier today.  In a statement, the resort says the incident was isolated to one chair and the result of high winds.  According to the Canberra Times, the region recorded a maximum gust of nearly 70 miles per hour Monday.

Gunbarrel is a 1988 Doppelmayr detachable quad with DS grips.  The lift traverses more than 5,500 feet of intermediate and advanced terrain with a capacity of 2,800 skiers per hour.

It’s already Tuesday in Australia and Gunbarrel remains on standby while other lifts are currently open.

Disney Skyliner Launches September 29th

It’s official: the Disney Skyliner gondola network will open Sunday, September 29th.  Three lines will connect the Trinidad hub with terminals at Epcot, Pop Century/Art of Animation and Hollywood Studios.  The launch falls just one month after the highly anticipated grand opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios on August 29th.

sdgtyevgj1h1

Recent photos show finishing touches like landscaping and painting underway in advance of the opening.

Continue reading

Sun Peaks Confirms Crystal Quad for 2020

WEB_2019_AlpineMap_NewLiftCrystal_0

Two years after partnering to build the new Orient Quad, Sun Peaks Resort and Doppelmayr will again team up to replace the Crystal triple on the upper mountain.  The lift will be realigned, unloading at the Top of the World adjacent to the Burfield Quad.  Dating back to 1979, Crystal was the very first Doppelmayr chairlift built at what was then called Tod Mountain.  The new fixed grip quad will be Sun Peaks’ 13th Doppelmayr installation spanning five decades.  “A new Crystal Chair is very important as we look at the future of our upper mountain terrain at Sun Peaks,” said Darcy Alexander, Sun Peaks Vice President and General Manager in a press release.  “As more people continue to discover the Sun Peaks experience, we need to invest in moving additional guests around the mountain effectively and efficiently.”  Work on the $3.8 million project will begin immediately with completion in advance of the 2020-21 ski season.

DSC_1374.jpg
Sun Peaks Resort flanks Mt. Tod in the British Columbia interior.

Sun Peaks also announced the Burfield quad will not be shortened as envisioned in the resort’s master plan.  The 9,500-plus foot lift will continue to offer nearly 3,000 vertical feet of skiing from the Top of the World alongside Crystal.

IMG_2597
Capacity will increase by 20 percent over the current Crystal triple chair.

Sun Peaks is owned and operated by Nippon Cable Co., the licensee of Doppelmayr technology in Japan.  Nippon also owns several Japanese ski resorts and a 25 percent stake in Whistler Blackcomb.

New Quad to Anchor Woodward Mountain Park at Mt. Bachelor

WWMP_MapProgression will be the name of the game next winter at a reimagined Sunrise base area on the east side of Mt. Bachelor.  Powdr Co. today revealed three new lifts, a remodeled lodge and new parking lot will make up the first Woodward Mountain Park, designed to offer a fun and intuitive learning experience.  Woodward Mountain Parks will eventually come to multiple Powdr resorts, building on the success of the company’s Woodward indoor action sports parks located throughout North America.  At Mt. Bachelor, 70 foot and 300 foot covered carpets will be joined by a 629 foot long Doppelmayr quad chair servicing five new acres below the Sunrise Lodge.

“Woodward is all about stoking passion and I’m excited for our guests to enjoy reimagined on-mountain environments that’ll be fun for every age and ability level,” said John McLeod, president and general manager of Mt. Bachelor in a statement. “The Mt. Bachelor Woodward Mountain Park will debut expanded terrain and new and inclusive experiences that our guests will love. Combined with our significant Sunrise lodge and base area upgrades, we’re transforming the Mt. Bachelor the guest experience for the future.”  Relatedly, Mt. Bachelor will debut a new trail map next winter painted by James Niehues.

Utah-based Powdr is on an epic building blitz.  The Bachelor addition will be the fourth chairlift for the firm this year on top of new lodges at Killington and Lee Canyon, a major snowmaking upgrade at Pico and the all new Woodward Park City ski area.  Last year, Powdr added six lifts at its resorts for an impressive total of ten in two years.

First Disney Skyliner Cabins Revealed

In addition to becoming one of the most-ridden gondola systems when it opens this fall, we now know the Disney Skyliner will also be among the most colorful.  After nearly two years of construction, cabins are finally out and about on all three new gondola lines spanning Walt Disney World Resort.

The cabins crisscross between the world’s seventh and ninth most-visited theme parks plus four resort hotels.  Last week, Disney and Doppelmayr removed protective covers from 55 cabins that will service Hollywood Studios, revealing a cornucopia of colors and characters.

There are eight core colors including multiple shades of blue and red.  Some cabins are monotone while others feature Disney icons from across nine decades.  Beauty and the Beast, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, Toy Story and Winnie the Pooh are just some of the storied franchises highlighted on gondolas.

Continue reading

News Roundup: Master Plans

News Roundup: New Gondolas

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.

Continue reading