- Keystone shows the process for creating a new trail map with next winter’s Bergman Bowl expansion.
- The Balsams redevelopment notches another necessary approval.
- Alta Sierra closes for weeks due to storm impacts.
- Salt Lake City prefers a 2034 Olympics over 2030.
- Troll, BC shows off 30 new runs to be serviced by a new T-Bar.
- Loon previews its expansion on South Peak.
- A man dies after falling from Breckenridge’s Zendo quad.
- Granite Peak rope evacuates the Blitzen triple.
- Heavenly offers a look into wind hold decision making.
- Snowbasin cancels construction of a Club Med, calling into question associated lift projects.
- Great Bear considers building a second chairlift.
- Steamboat again floats replacing the Wildhorse Gondola with a detachable version.
- Still no deal between Deer Valley and Mayflower although talks continue.
- Here’s a Cascade Skyline Gondola update.
- Vail settles a lawsuit with the family of a man who died while dangling from a chairlift in 2020.
- Doppelmayr is one of three finalists to replace Newark Airport’s automated people mover.
News Roundup: Doubles Save the Day
- Many big openings this weekend including Lenawee Express at Arapahoe Basin, Big Red at Whistler, Seven Brothers at Loon Mountain, North Bowl Express at Heavenly, Eagle Peak at Lookout Pass and Black Bear 6 at Camelback.
- Palisades Tahoe launches the Base to Base Gondola tomorrow but it will operate as two separate lifts and close Sunday for more work.
- Vail waits for a weather window to fly the pilot line for Sun Down Express, nears the finish line on Game Creek Express.
- Doppelmayr and Steamboat unwrap Wild Blue cabins.
- Kimberley load tests the Northstar Express following a year of repairs.
- New Sunnyside at Alta won’t be finished by Christmas; the Albion double will spin until it opens.
- The new high speed quad at Telluride won’t open until late January due to labor challenges.
- FourRunner goes down at Stowe and the nearby Sunrise Six isn’t finished yet. Lookout saves the week.
- A “series of setbacks to electrical infrastructure” delays opening of new lifts and the entire Big Boulder ski area.
- Cuchara won’t reopen lift-served skiing this year after all.
- Giants Ridge debuts a new VistaMap.
- Sun Valley launches a website dedicated to next summer’s lift projects.
- As the investigation continues into the Mont-Sainte-Anne gondola incident and the mountain remains closed this weekend, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies seeks a public-private partnership to renew its Quebec infrastructure. Quebec’s Premier isn’t sold on giving public money to RCR.
- The Governor of New Hampshire wants replacement of the Cannon Tram to be voted on by the legislature, a funding mechanism could be selected this year with the earliest possible opening in late 2024.
- Ski Utah previews the upcoming Burns Express at Deer Valley.
- Wisconsin approves a pared down master plan for Granite Peak with two expansion lifts, one on each side of existing terrain.
- Homewood forges ahead with plans to go private for homeowners only.
- The sightseeing gondola proposal in Vernon, British Columbia moves forward.
- An idea to connect Detroit with Windsor, Ontario by 3S gondola is back.
- Construction begins on the new D-Line gondola at a California vineyard.
Charles Skinner to Acquire Michigan’s Big Snow
The owner of the largest ski resorts in Minnesota and Wisconsin will expand his portfolio to include one of the biggest ski areas in Michigan. Located in the Upper Peninsula, Big Snow Resort’s Blackjack and Indianhead mountains together feature more than a dozen lifts across 1,000 acres of land. Wisconsin developer Art Dumke has owned the mountains since 2014.
There’s no word yet whether Lutsen Mountains, Granite Peak and Big Snow will be combined onto a single pass product but that seems likely. “We are thrilled that these two historical, Upper Michigan ski areas, known for their prodigious powder snow, will be joining our legendary family of resorts in Minnesota and Wisconsin,” said Charles Skinner in a press release. “The current owner and his excellent staff have done a terrific job honoring the legacy of Indianhead and Blackjack and combining them into the largest ski area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We intend to build upon this work by investing in new lifts, snowmaking, and base area infrastructure at Big Snow.” Specific plans for investments at Big Snow will be announced later this summer. The two mountains currently feel like museums with most lifts and buildings dating back to the 1960s and ’70s.
Skinner also announced construction of a Leitner-Poma six place chairlift at Lutsen Mountains for the 2023-24 season. The second such lift there will run alongside Bridge chair, a 1972 Riblet double on Eagle Mountain.
The Big Snow sale is expected to close by the end of July, subject to financing and due diligence completion.
News Roundup: First Load Test
- Vail-owned Wilmot Mountain takes down Lift 7 with no immediate replacement planned.
- A monument is unveiled honoring Byron Riblet, who founded Riblet Tramway Company in 1896.
- Kirkwood and Heavenly both utilize snowmaking systems for protection from the Caldor Fire.
- The Forest Service closes all National Forests in California due to the fire emergency, affecting summer operations at numerous resorts.
- The Palm Springs Tramway is set to close for a month of maintenance.
- Skytrac completes the first new lift of the year at Great Bear. Already in the Lift Blog database!
- Steamboat raises more than $200,000 for local nonprofits selling Priest Creek chairs.
- Alterra buys another heli ski operation, adds Dolomiti Superski and Kitzbühel as Ikon Pass international partners.
- Mexico City’s Cablebús Line 2 is certified by Guinness World Records as the longest urban gondola.
- The Storm Skiing Podcast features Charles Skinner, owner of Granite Peak and Lutsen Mountains, to talk lift upgrades and expansion plans at both resorts.
- Copper Mountain will host a State of the Resort presentation and capital plan update tomorrow.
Granite Peak Expansion Options Unveiled
A big time mountain in a state full of mostly small ski areas, Granite Peak features three high speed lifts serving 700 vertical feet of diverse terrain. As Wisconsin’s largest ski area, Granite serves both the local community of Wausau and regional visitors seeking a big mountain experience. Under a new vision developed by the Greater Wausau Prosperity Partnership and SE Group, the resort could see up to six new chairlifts, a gondola, 139 acres of new terrain, a second base area and year-round downhill mountain biking.
Like hundreds of other resorts in the United States, Granite Peak occupies public land leased to a private operator. In this case, development would be a partnership between Granite Peak owner Charles Skinner and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (Skinner also co-owns Lutsen Mountains, the Midwest’s largest ski area with an ambitious expansion playbook of its own in partnership with the US Forest Service.) The plan notes that unlike most ski areas in the Midwest, Granite Peak has significant access to capital to make transformational improvements.
SE Group developed four alternatives, the first of which is the usual no action option. Granite Peak would remain a winter-focused operation with skiing and seasonal chairlift rides. Under this scenario, the ski area would expect to see fewer winter visitors over time consistent with current trends. Downhill mountain biking could be added but would be limited to about 12,500 visits a year.
Alternative 2 adds a new ski lift east of the existing Cupid lift servicing five new low intermediate trails. The Blitzen triple would become a detachable quad and Santa would be realigned to better service novice terrain alongside a new lodge. Blitzen Express would service summer downhill biking and chairlift rides. This alternative would attract some additional summer visitors and likely keep skier visits neutral.
A more ambitious Alternative 3 includes all of the projects from Alternative 2 plus a westward expansion with parking, a day lodge, gondola, chairlift and three surface lifts. Two of the new lifts would serve beginner runs from the summit, a key differentiator from the Granite Peak of today where novices are limited to mid-mountain and below. Summer operations would live here and include a zip line plus mountain coaster. Winter could see a total of 121 new skiable acres and an estimated 136,000 additional annual visits.
Alternative 4 adds a third westward expansion lift plus a year-round mountain biking chair on the south side of the mountain (yes, a lift dedicated to fat bikes instead of skiers all winter). Total visitation in winter and summer could reach 744,000 with the most diverse recreational offerings in the region.
Not surprisingly, Granite Peak supports Alternative 4, which provides the most flexibility for expanded terrain and services. “This is exciting,” noted General Manager Greg Fisher in a blog post today. “Of course as an operator and outdoor enthusiast I want to go big and Option 4 is awesome. It gives us the most opportunity to utilize so much of the natural resources we have here within the park boundary.”
I personally have never had the chance to ski at Granite Peak but have hiked up and down to photograph the existing lifts. It really is unique in Wisconsin and I would love to see it grow. The State is accepting public comments here through July 14th if you’d like to weigh in.
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: That Was Fast
- After just three weeks being open, the Disney Skyliner flies its one millionth guest.
- The new Park City trail map shows exactly where Over and Out goes.
- Poma inaugurates a lift full of superlatives in South Korea: the longest span between towers (4,000 feet) and tallest concrete tower (492 feet) for a monocable gondola.
- The Boston Seaport Gondola project is officially dead.
- Timberline Four Seasons Resort is scheduled to be auctioned November 19th.
- Aspen Skiing Company will try again for approval of the Ajax Pandora expansion.
- With an expansion coming, a dispute arises between Idaho and Montana over how much of Lookout Pass Ski Area each can lay claim to.
- The Forest Service approves Timberline Lodge’s request to replace Pucci with a high speed quad.
- In what could be a preview of an eventual lift sale, Alterra, Vail Resorts and Seven Springs all bid to buy the Hermitage Club’s snowmaking guns (Vail won.)
- The latest Pomalink newsletter previews Téléo, the first 3S urban gondola in France.
- Tampa Bay will study gondola transportation.
- Park City elected leaders discuss the same topic.
- Grafton SkyTour is now open.
- Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers visits Granite Peak to see how lifts are inspected and learn about a proposed expansion.
- The Sea to Sky Gondola replacement haul rope is spliced.
- A guy BASE jumps off a tram tower in Germany.
- The urban gondola promoter in Edmonton unveils its first proposed station location.
- The new Gould Academy T-Bar at Sunday River will be open to the public whenever four or more major chairlifts go on hold.
- The name of Manning Park Resort’s new Doppelmayr quad is Bear.
- Steamboat’s new gondola completes acceptance tests.
- The Swiss gondola which lost a cabin on October 20th reopens.
News Roundup: Six-Pack
- Granite Peak will announce a plan this fall for new runs and multiple new lifts.
- Crystal Mountain pushes back Kelly’s Gap high speed quad to 2021.
- James Coleman purchases Hesperus, adding to his collective that includes Arizona Snowbowl, Pajarito, Purgatory and Sipapu. A 1961 Riblet double from Mt. Bachelor is Hesperus’ only lift.
- Fatzer opens a new production plant.
- The United States overtakes France as the world’s most popular ski destination. The U.S. is the fourth largest lift market.
- Austin’s NPR station dedicates more than seven minutes to a discussion about urban cable. “Once we went to La Paz, we were up and running within 12 months,” Doppelmayr’s Randy Woolwine tells listeners.
- A six-pack rises at Arizona Snowbowl.
- Eagle Point unveils Vision 2020 with new lifts and expanded terrain planned.
- Next season might be the last for Blackcomb’s Horstman T-Bar due to glacial recession. This video demonstrates one of the pitfalls of the sinking T-Bar.
- SAM reports how Jay Peak employees have made the most of a bad situation amidst a federal fraud investigation.
- Mont Bellevue gets a Doppelmayr Eco quad with a return station design we haven’t seen before and two different-style bullwheels.
- Le Relais’ $5 million six-place chair is just about finished.
- Vail Resorts loses $65.3 million in the fourth quarter.
- Big Sky’s new six-pack will be named Powder Seeker.
- The first Poma EEZII-model compact detachable terminal is assembled in France.
- Whistler-Blackcomb releases Conflicted Obsessions documentary about climate change. “The gorilla in the room is the long-distance travel required to get to these special places,” admits W-B’s environmental resource manager.