Instagram Tuesday: Alpha

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

That escalated quickly #SmokyMountains #Gatlinburg #SkyLift #SkiLift #Tennessee

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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 Alpen Star 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: Progress

News Roundup: Interalpin

  • Revelstoke homeowners aren’t happy lift development has stalled for almost ten years now.  The resort’s response identifies master plan lifts 1 and 11 as the highest priorities but notes construction of them is subject to market demand.
  • In an interview, new Crystal Mountain owner John Kircher says he wants to build a second gondola to Campbell Basin.
  • NY State Fair gondola continues to be targeted as an example of government waste.
  • Whaleback’s T-Bar project is a go.  The lift came from Plattekill, NY and will be installed by SkyTrans.
  • New Gatlinburg Sky Lift looks to be almost finished.
  • Poma reaches agreement to build new gondolas in Vietnam with the first next-generation Sigma Diamond EVO cabins introduced yesterday at Interalpin.  The new cabins offer more natural light and feature doors that slide rather than opening out.
  • Move over D-Line: the new Leitner Station is here.
  • LST gets another detachable contract.
  • Leitner launches urban gondola in Berlin.
  • Skier visits at Vail Resorts were down 2.8 percent this season but lift ticket revenue increased 7.4 percent.
  • Mi Telef√©rico opens $1.5 million Operations Control Center with 22 people monitoring 1,300 surveillance cameras on 66 screens and lightning detection system for four gondola lines.
  • Purgatory will add a mid-station to its Needles triple this summer.

News Roundup: Opponents

News Roundup: Inaugural

New Roundup: French

Boyne Resorts Will Build New Sky Lift, Add Adventure Park in Gatlinburg

From the ashes..

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Three months since a wildland¬†fire ripped through Gatlinburg, Tennesee, two brand new lifts are under construction as¬†the gateway to the Smoky Mountains rebuilds. ¬†As many suspected, the Gatlinburg Sky Lift will be replaced with a new version this spring. ¬†“We are investing in a total replacement and are excited to be in process with installation of a new scenic chairlift,” spokeswoman Julie Ard of Boyne Resorts tells the Mountain Press. ¬†The Riblet double’s haul rope and chairs have already been pulled¬†in preparation for tower removal. The¬†new Sky Lift will be the third version following the original Heron that operated from 1954-1991 and the Riblet that followed from¬†1991 until last November. ¬†I’ve reached out to Boyne for¬†the manufacturer of Sky Lift 3.0¬†and am waiting to hear back. ¬†Update 2/6/17: The new lift will be a Doppelmayr Alpen Star triple chair with custom¬†wooden seats.

Before the fire, Boyne Resorts had planned for and received approval to build an adventure park on the site, where the company has operated continuously for more than sixty years. ¬†Zip lines, a suspension bridge, walking trails and more will eventually occupy 17.5 acres. ¬†While that expansion¬†will take some time, the lift project is progressing quickly. ¬†“Reopening of the Gatlinburg Sky Lift is expected to be April/May 2017,” says Ard. “Just as our past guests who want to come back to Gatlinburg to continue traditions of experiencing this iconic attraction, and locals who are aware of its draw among tourists, we are eager to have this lift spinning again just as quickly as possible.”

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News Roundup: Building

  • I¬†talk six-packs with the Vail Daily.
  • Heavenly’s Comet Express remains closed following a Jan. 1st¬†rope evacuation,¬†apparently due to a gearbox issue. ¬†This is one of the reasons Vail Resorts is replacing its fleet of 1980s-vintage detachable quads.
  • Doppelmayr and the United Nations are hosting a week-long urban mobility ropeway class in April.
  • The New York Times tells the tale of Big Sky Resort.
  • Ski patroller severely injured in fall from chair at Terry Peak.
  • Gondola proposed to serve airport in Vietnam’s congested largest city.
  • BC Parks considers a gondola to Mt. Seymour to alleviate parking and traffic problems.
  • Ski Area Management‘s lift construction survey dropped this week. ¬†Highlights from its¬†outlook for 2017:
    • “We’re off to a strong year for ’17, there are lots of people asking about lifts…It’s very positive compared to the previous two years.” – Jon Mauch, Senior Sales Manager at Leitner-Poma
    • “There’s a lot of enthusiasm about what could happen under a Trump administration. ¬†People expect deregulation and a more business-friendly climate.” – Mark Bee,¬†President at¬†Doppelmayr USA
    • “We’re seeing lots of requests quotes, lots of major modifications and retrofits…It’s all being driven by the age of the existing lift infrastructure.” – Carl Skylling, General Manager at Skytrac
    • I’ve already identified 29 new lifts likely to be built in 2017,¬†pacing well above the last few years for mid-January.
  • Slovakian manufacturer Tatralift debuts¬†its third detachable lift¬†using a Wopfner grip. ¬†That makes seven¬†companies capable of building a detachable lift globally – Bartholet,¬†BMHRI (China), Doppelmayr/Garaventa¬†(Austria), LeitnerPoma¬†(Italy), LST¬†(France), STM¬†(Turkey) and Tatralift (Slovakia.)

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News Roundup: Oregon