This winter, 57 lifts in North America will feature loading conveyors, a higher number than ever before. Since the first carpets debuted in 1995, the technology has improved as resorts seek to increase comfort and loading efficiency. The Austrian-based market leader, Chairkit (formerly ChairkiD) has installed more than 460 carpets worldwide. Another manufacturer called Emmegi built more than a dozen in the United States before going out of business in 2010. Italian conveyor company Compac has dabbled as have Rocky Mountain Conveyor (maker of Magic Carpet®) and Doppelmayr with its own version called LaunchPad. As with bubble chairs, loading carpets are ubiquitous in Europe but not so much around here.
The logic behind a carpet is simple. It helps beginner skiers who struggle to move quickly enough to the load point and reduces the relative speed between skier and chair on fixed-grip chairlifts. The goal is fewer mis-loads/stops/slows and increased loading efficiency. Some Chairkit carpets add a lifting table so that a lift operator can raise the entire loading platform by about four inches to safely load small children. Bridger Bowl, Crystal Mountain (WA) and The Summit at Snoqualmie opted for this feature on their respective beginner lifts.
The vast majority (84 percent) of carpets in North America are the longer type designed for fixed-grip lifts. They stretch about 30 feet from the wait here board to well past the load point and move slightly slower than the lift’s rope speed. Eight high speed quads and six-packs in the United States now have shorter carpets designed for detachables. Vail Resorts operates five of these on its newest six packs at Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Park City and Vail. Boyne Resorts is another major adopter of loading carpets with seven of them across its mountains.