- A Forest Service report details what Keystone did wrong in Bergman Bowl, the lift will not not be completed this season.
- One Gunstock Area Commissioner resigns, another is removed from office and another appointed. Staff reopened the resort yesterday.
- Forbes interviews Doppelmayr Managing Director Thomas Pichler.
- NSAA launches a lift service bulletin database for members.
- In Argentina, a mechanic dies after his legs become caught in chairlift machinery.
- Apex Mountain Resort is evacuated due to a nearby wildfire.
- Ex Jay Peak owner Ariel Quiros reports to prison.
- Sommet Gabriel’s new Doppelmayr quad will be called La Laurentienne.
- The new triple at Dodge Ridge will be Triple Nugget.
- ORDA awards a $3.2 million contract to Skytrac for construction of the Bear Cub Quad at Gore Mountain.
- Snoqualmie and Doppelmayr conduct a heli mission to scope upcoming International triple construction.
- Vail Resorts completes its acquisition of a majority stake in Swiss ski resort Andermatt-Sedrun.
- Alta opts not to remove Albion until next year.
- Here are some pictures of an Epic Lift Upgrade project on track at Vail Mountain (thanks to reader Mark.)
News Roundup: Best Ever
- The Bud Light Seltzer SkyView gondola at Hard Rock Stadium becomes the Heineken High Line for the Miami Grand Prix.
- A chairlift which rotates between two fairs in California and one in Arizona now also goes to Texas.
- Granite Gorge is scheduled to be sold at a foreclosure auction next month.
- A Swiss paper interviews Roland Bartholet about his company being acquired by HTI. The brand will remain separate from Leitner and Poma, will focus on new products and help the group compete with Doppelmayr Garaventa.
- Indy Pass signs six more resorts as affiliate partners; redemptions totaled 125,000 this season.
- Gore Mountain signs with Leitner-Poma for the North Creek Ski Bowl detachable.
- Doppelmayr proposes a $200 million urban gondola system in Auckland, New Zealand.
- Bottineau Winter Park fundraises for a new T-Bar.
- Friends of the Tulsa Skyride say the only lift in Oklahoma may be removed in the next few weeks.
- The United States sets an all-time skier visit record – 61 million – with 11 more ski areas operating than last season.
- NSAA says offseason capital improvements will also set a record this year at $728 million.
- A big urban 3S opens in France.
- Doppelmayr’s latest Bike Clip carriers will make their North American debut at Loon Mountain.
- Mt. Rose’s first high speed quad will be called the
Tahoe Express. Update: Lakeview Express
- A tram breakdown makes the news in Palm Springs.
ORDA to Spend $38 Million on Lifts in ’23
Citing a tight supply chain and manufacturer consolidation, the staff of New York’s Olympic Regional Development Authority today requested board approval for seven major lift projects to be completed in 2023. Three state-run ski areas – Belleayre, Gore Mountain and Whiteface – each would receive new and upgraded lifts under the ambitious plan.
At Gore Mountain, bids are already in for replacing the Hudson triple with an extended detachable quad. The lowest bid came in at $8,761,520, though ORDA has not yet released the name of the winning manufacturer. This lift would operate year round and be accompanied by a new lodge. ORDA now also wants to replace Gore’s Bear Cub Poma in 2023. A replacement fixed grip chairlift would cost an estimated $3.5 million.
Four lift capital projects are proposed for Belleayre, the largest of which is a full replacement of Lift 7. A $6.5 million detachable quad would follow a modified alignment beginning near the top of the Lightning Quad. The Belleayre Express, a 16 year old detachable quad, would receive new operator houses and electrical systems at a cost of $1.7 million. Lift 8 is in line for a $400,000 upgrade and a new conveyor would round out $9+ million worth of lift projects at Belleayre.
The largest single project is at Whiteface, the largest vertical ski resort in the east. ORDA plans to build a two stage detachable quad from the Bear Den base area to mid mountain with an angle station along the way. This lift would cost a whopping $16.5 million due to the complex nature of the alignment.
The ORDA Board nearly unanimously approved resolutions for all projects to proceed as quickly as possible.
News Roundup: Quad For Sale
- In an op-ed, Vail Mountain Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Beth Howard says the company is evaluating wages for next season.
- Mike Goar pens a similar letter to the Park City community.
- New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu says his office is working to address complaints about Vail Resorts operations at state-owned Mt. Sunapee.
- Indy Pass adds Sunlight, Colorado.
- A 7 year old is expected to be okay after falling 35 feet from a chairlift at the Florida State Fair.
- New York State issues an RFP for the North Creek Ski Bowl detachable quad project at Gore Mountain.
- Here’s a preview of the Lookout Pass Eagle Peak expansion, set for a CTEC quad this summer:
- Hickory won’t reopen this winter due to lift inspection timing.
- Jackson Hole lists the Thunder chair for sale.
- With a new gondola costing up to $22 million after a two to three year wait, Eaglecrest looks at purchasing a used 15 passenger pulse gondola from Austria.
- A chairlift-served bike park is proposed near Evergreen, Colorado.
- Sierra at Tahoe shares its latest recovery update with a focus on the 12 different comm line patches needed on seven different lifts.
- The incident report from the Beech Mountain water line mishap is made public.
News Roundup: Ramping Up
- As of the January 3rd Utah Passenger Ropeway Safety Committee meeting, Doppelmayr USA had sold approximately 30 lifts for 2022.
- Skytrac is already hiring construction employees for the upcoming build season.
- Sierra at Tahoe installs and splices a new rope on the fire-damaged Grandview Express, a key milestone toward reopening.
- An Italian maintenance technician succumbs to injuries sustained from being hit by a gondola cabin.
- Whaleback closes its chairlift due to a motor issue.
- The New York Times explores why some resorts are experiencing more staff shortages than others, the Denver Post talks with Epic Pass customers from across the country about their experiences this season.
- A number of lifts haven’t opened at Park City this year due to staff shortages; one of Crotched Mountain’s four chairlifts has no chairs on it.
- Vail Resorts Executive Chairperson Rob Katz joins the Storm Skiing Podcast to talk about remarkable growth of the company and this season’s challenges.
- Passholders at Stevens Pass are offered $150 off next year’s pass or the same amount in resort credit as a result of operational difficulties.
- Vail offers $13.1 million to settle lawsuits alleging labor violations.
- Le Massif introduces a Kevin Mastin trail map showing its new lift and removal of a disused gondola.
- Poma provides an update on the world’s largest current 3S project.
- Another insightful podcast: Indy Pass founder Doug Fish on the growth of that product.
- Lake Louise says testing of the Juniper Express is underway with a delayed opening now planned for February.
- The agency operating three New York State ski areas proposes a $105 million capital budget for 2023.
- Gore Mountain unveils a $30 million redevelopment plan for the North Creek Ski Bowl including replacing the Hudson triple with a longer detachable quad.
- A Colorado county passes on partnering with Florida developers to reopen Cuchara.
- Big Snow American Dream still doesn’t know when it will reopen.
- The City of Burnaby, British Columbia officially endorses the Burnaby Mountain Gondola proposal.
- Alaska’s newest ski area will need at least $10 million to install its next lift.
News Roundup: On the Map
- Sugarloaf’s forthcoming West Mountain expansion makes the trail map.
- Disney blogs report some recent downtime on the Skyliner.
- Pine Knob removes Chair 4 and puts a rope tow in its place.
- Four mountains get new trail maps from VistaMap: Granite Peak, Loon Mountain, Sunrise Park and West Mountain.
- Winter Park renames Eskimo Express Explorer Express with the following reason behind it:
Last summer, we examined the names of our trails and lifts, and recognized that the name “Eskimo” is considered derogatory and offensive by many. Through research we learned people in many parts of the Arctic consider Eskimo a derogatory term because it was widely used by racist, non-native colonizers. Many people also thought it meant eater of raw meat, which connoted barbarism and violence. Brands with longer histories than Winter Park’s have also decided to abandon the term. The iconic Eskimo Pie dropped the name in 2020, and the Edmonton Canadian football team announced it would no longer use the name as well.
Winter Park is a place for all people to Venture Out, to escape and retreat, to transform and trailblaze. Winter Park is an inclusive place and that’s why we moved to change the name of the Eskimo Express Lift to the Explorer Express Lift. The name “Explorer” more accurately represents our resort, our brand, our team, and our guests.
- Both Gore Mountain’s new lifts run in somewhat new locations.
- You can virtually tour the new 3K K-onnection 3S gondola, including on top of towers and inside stations.
- Europe’s longest 3S opens tomorrow.
- New ski area alert! Skeetawk sends first chair tomorrow after decades of dreaming.
- Paul Bunyan, Wisconsin to reopen this month after 25 years shuttered.
- Mt. Baldy, Ontario’s new quad chair isn’t finished so the ski area is closing for an hour to teach people how to ride the T-Bar.
- Austria and Switzerland say yes to skiing while France, Germany, and Italy continue to keep lifts closed.
- BousquetMountain.com goes live with a new trail map.
- Liftopia will likely be sold with proceeds going to creditors.
- Saddleback secures $1.3 million in new funding to support redevelopment.
- Mountain Capital Partners’ bet that Texans would love lift-served mountain biking is paying off.
- This fact sheet outlines the five transportation options for Little Cottonwood Canyon, two of which include a gondola.
News Roundup: Suits
- Skeetawk secures a 40 year lease to operate on public land in Alaska.
- The Salt Lake Tribune features a pro-Little Cottonwood Gondola op-ed by Ski Utah CEO Nathan Rafferty.
- D-Line stations, cabins and chairs and are now available as HO scale models.
- A disabled skier sues Aspen Snowmass over a 2019 lift fall.
- The haul rope is on North America’s third D-Line lift system.
- A helicopter flies concrete for tower foundations at Saddleback.
- The ever-growing Indy Pass adds Snow King Mountain, White Pine and Winterplace.
- Closed Crystal Mountain, BC still faces lawsuits more than six years after a lift deropement.
- Arapahoe Basin presses ahead with new lift projects despite taking a big Covid hit.
- China Peak bids farewell to the mighty Chair 3.
- Gore Mountain formally announces construction of two new quads.
- Court documents reveal more details on the Liftopia-Mountain Collective dispute.
- All new Whiteface gondola cabins arrive stateside.
News Roundup: Shovel Ready
- Lift construction resumes in New Zealand, where resorts are optimistic they can open next month with social distancing.
- The Forest Service commences scoping for Lutsen Mountains’ big expansion, which would include seven new chairlifts.
- You can also submit comments on Keystone’s Bergman Bowl project starting today.
- The State of New York partners with Skytrac and Leitner-Poma for three fixed grip quads – two for Gore and one at Whiteface.
- Vail Resorts provides last season’s Epic Pass holders with 20-80 percent credits and introduces free refund coverage for next winter.
- Silver Mountain joins the Powder Alliance, Schweitzer exits.
- Vail Resorts says goodbye to many Peak Resorts employees as planned before COVID-19.
- The Burnaby Mountain Gondola project could benefit from an infrastructure push in Canada.
- Wolf Creek planned to reopen this weekend but an executive order late last night extended the closure of Colorado ski areas through May 23rd.
- Valemount, BC considers building a community ski hill.
- I’m not an accountant but I think this filing reveals Vail Resorts has agreed with creditors not to make capital improvements of more than $200 million per year or undertake any mergers/acquisitions through January 2022.
- Vail is also borrowing $600 million through the sale of bonds.
New York State Ski Areas Plan New Lifts for 2020-21
New York’s state-owned Olympic Regional Development Authority plans to spend a whopping $147 million to upgrade its facilities during 2020 and 2021. Those venues include Belleayre, Gore Mountain, the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex and Whiteface, which together saw three new lifts over the last three years. On Friday, the agency issued a formal request for proposal for three more fixed-grip quad chairlifts to be built over two years.
This summer, both Gore and Whiteface would see new lifts replacing Riblet models. Gore proposes replacing the Sunway double with a fixed quad capable of moving 2,400 guests per hour. The previous lift dates back to 1986. The new alignment would end slightly higher than the current lift, with a 566 foot vertical rise and 3,102 foot slope length. This machine would be bottom drive, bottom tension with a loading carpet.
Also in 2020, Whiteface plans to replace the Bunny Hutch triple with a quad. The current lift opened in 1997 with used Riblet equipment. The new lift would be about 450 feet longer with a vertical rise of 364 feet. This quad would also be bottom drive/bottom tension and may include a loading conveyor.
Following in 2021, Gore would see a replacement for the High Peaks double. The existing lift is a quirky Riblet-CTEC hybrid that experiences long lines during peak times. The new lift would be a bottom drive fixed-grip quad with a design capacity of 2,400 skiers per hour.
No new lifts are planned for Belleayre, understandable considering the Catskills mountain got two of the last three projects. There’s no guarantee ORDA will follow through on these specific plans but the RFP gives us a pretty good idea of the authority’s wish list. Potential suppliers have until March 5th to bid and, if funded and approved, construction would be complete by November 15th of 2020 and 2021.
News Roundup: Beyond Skiing
- According to the New York State contracting website, the Gore Mountain Sunway, High Peaks, Hudson and Whiteface Bear Den lift replacement projects that went out to bid last fall are all on hold. Two bids were received for the Olympic Jumping Complex gondola in Lake Placid but no builder has been selected as of January 18th.
- A chair falls off a 1993 Yan detachable quad in Spain, closing an entire ski resort indefinitely.
- Lift service returns to Killington’s South Ridge for the first time in a decade as of yesterday.
- Bartholet completes its first 10 passenger gondola lift in Norway.
- Les Otten lobbies for a new bill that would permit public financing for The Balsams redevelopment.
- The proposed gondola in Idaho Springs, Colorado would be modeled after the Sea to Sky Gondola, which now carries more than 400,000 riders a year in British Culumbia. The 1.2 mile Colorado version would rise 1,100 feet above Interstate 70.
- The largest lost ski resort in Canada, Fortress Mountain, could reopen with a mix of new and refurbished lifts in 2020.
- Sun Valley and Snowbasin ditch the Mountain Collective Pass for a partnership with Vail Resorts and the Epic Pass starting next winter.
- The Laconia Daily Sun explains how Highland Mountain Bike Park finds success on the grounds of a long lost New Hampshire ski area.
- The former longtime operator of Timberline Four Seasons Resort is indicted, accused of illegally prescribing pain drugs. The ski area suffered a major lift accident in 2016 and has operated only sporadically this winter.