News Roundup: Any Day Now

News Roundup: Flying High

Gunstock Presents Ambitious Expansion Plan

New Hampshire’s Gunstock Mountain Resort started December with a bang, unveiling a major expansion proposal last night. Gunstock worked with SE Group on the master plan for up to five new chairlifts servicing more than 30 new trails. The resort also wants to build its first hotel, upgrade lodges and develop more parking to serve an increasing volume of guests. Claire Humber, Director of Resort Planning for SE Group, told the Gunstock Area Commission and gathered crowd the plan would boost the 85 year old ski area’s comfortable carrying capacity by 70 percent to 6,360 skiers.

County-owned Gunstock saw its highest-ever skier visits, season pass sales and revenue last season with signs pointing to further growth in 21-22. Despite the success, Gunstock leadership noted the mountain faces significant competition from the likes of Waterville Valley, Loon Mountain, Bretton Woods and Mt. Sunapee, all of which are privately operated with significant capital improvement plans. “In order for Gunstock to remain competitive, continuous capital investment in ski improvements is essential for attracting and maintaining a loyal customer base,” said Tom Day, Gunstock’s President and General Manager. “We want to protect and grow our market share in a very competitive New England marketplace while at the same time preserving the natural beauty of the area.”

The likely first phase would see the installation of a detachable quad running from the bottom of the current Ramrod quad to the top of the Tiger triple. Consolidating these lifts would create a more attractive alternative to the Panorama Express, which sees a disproportionate level of ridership due to its status as Gunstock’s only detachable.

Next could be an Eastside expansion with a second summit detachable. This lift would service 70 acres of new intermediate terrain on the Pistol side of the mountain. Lift, trail and snowmaking development for this pod would cost an estimated $15.3 million if built today.

Another expansion opportunity is Alpine Ridge, once home to a small ski area separate from Gunstock. This advanced-intermediate pod would include a fixed grip triple chair and require the extension of the Penny Pitou quad for access. Because the trails would be shorter than the Eastside and serviced by fixed grip lifts, this expansion would only cost about $7.4 million to construct.

The third expansion area lies beyond Gunstock’s existing property line on the backside of the mountain. Dubbed Weeks, eight new trails would be serviced by a fourth detachable quad. The lift would combine with the new Ramrod-Tiger chair to create a third summit access route. This big ticket project would cost an estimated $17.3 million.

While the room was filled with optimism, officials noted none of these major projects are going to happen tomorrow. For one thing, Tom Day noted Vail’s huge 2022 lift plan and said there are “no lifts available” for next year. “If we are thinking about doing this, we need to think about making plans to move in a year or so when we can put our order in,” he added.

News Roundup: ConnX

News Roundup: Life Behind Lifts

News Roundup: Settling Up

News Roundup: Cold Front

  • Sunday River releases maps of the upcoming Merrill Hill project.
  • Updated stats from NSAA show how many ski areas operated in each state last winter.
  • Las Vegas’ decision to go with Teslas in a tunnel rather than a Doppelmayr automated people mover may have been short sighted.
  • Jay Peak President Steve Wright discusses joining the Indy Pass, limited winter tram operations and potential future lift upgrades.
  • Mission Ridge begins erecting terminals for the new Liberator Express, which load and unload inside buildings.
  • Whiteface’s new beginner quad will be called Owl Express.
  • A new lift at Sun Valley will also get a fresh name, to be announced soon.
  • Gunstock burns down an old T-Bar station for firefighter training.
  • An Ontario ski area worries about lift safety following a rash of vandalism.
  • With the launch of a gondola up Hoonah Mountain next year, an Alaska Native corporation sees new opportunities for development.
  • Despite a 30 percent drop in business last winter, at least two New Zealand resorts plan to build new lifts this offseason.
  • As Smartwool moves headquarters from Steamboat to Denver, the company gifts $1.5 million to Howelsen Hill for a new Barrows chairlift, to be built by Skytrac.
  • A Michigan ski area with 12 lifts won’t make snow and will operate weekends only due to Coronavirus.
  • Mont-Sainte-Anne is no longer certain its base-to-summit gondola will be functional by December.
  • Big Sky wraps up a busy season of preparation for the Swift Current 6 top terminal and carrier storage facility.

News Roundup: Master Planning

News Roundup: Graduation Season


News Roundup: Flames

  • Purgatory Resort closes indefinitely and is under a mandatory evacuation order due to the nearby 416 Fire.
  • Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz tells analysts in a conference call there are still select acquisition opportunities in North America (with more elsewhere) and that there are no specific plans yet for the $35 million in capital earmarked for Okemo, Mt. Sunapee, Crested Butte and Stevens Pass.
  • Swiss manufacturer BMF and French competitor LST team up to sell urban ropeways in France.
  • The Forest Service tentatively approves Steamboat’s Pioneer Ridge expansion, Bashor Gondola and other new lifts.
  • A plan for the complete rebuild and reopening of Denton Hill, Pennsylvania is now online.
  • Less than a month after opening its first two urban gondolas, the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo unveils plans for a massive 6.8 mile, six station 3S gondola line.
  • Politicians block Gunstock from borrowing $600,000 for lift maintenance and other offseason projects as some call for a private takeover of the county-owned ski resort.
  • French lift website interviews Sigma CEO Yannick Morand about premium Evo & Symphony gondola cabins, air conditioning and why ten passengers are the new eight.
  • Non-Vail Colorado resorts tallied 7.1 million skier visits last season, only 2 percent below 2016-17.
  • The Balsams developers request that the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority delay consideration of its $28 million state-backed loan application.