- 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: Gunstock & More
- Indy Pass signs its largest partner yet by skier visits: Mt. Hood Meadows.
- Former Indy Pass resort Marmot Basin joins the Mountain Collective.
- Some 300 people show up to what was intended to be an executive session of the Gunstock Area Commission to discuss legal, financial and employment matters. Two commissioners end up walking out. Another meeting is scheduled for today.
- Resigned Gunstock Area Commissioner and former Stowe CEO Gary Kiedaisch attempts to un-resign.
- A New Hampshire State Representative alleges former Gunstock General Manager Tom Day improperly donated $500 in public money to Governor Sununu’s 2020 re-election campaign.
- Organizers of a music festival set to take place at Gunstock next weekend threaten legal action if the Panorama high speed quad doesn’t run as contracted.
- Deer Valley and Mayflower work toward an operating agreement.
- Eaglecrest General Manager Dave Scanlan goes on the radio to talk about the gondola project.
- Skytrac is still hiring folks to build ski lifts, particularly at Jack Frost and Big Boulder in Pennsylvania.
- Smugglers’ Notch gives a rundown of all the work that goes into servicing a bullwheel.
- Sierra at Tahoe completes haul rope replacements on two more lifts.
- A bolt tightening contractor is hit by a tram carriage and seriously injured at Jackson Hole.
- Skytrac begins building on Eagle Peak at Lookout Pass.
- Greek Peak starts construction of a new Chair 3.
- Utah Olympic Park’s big expansion won’t be open to public skiing with limited exceptions.
- The first D-Line in California is approved, will feature unique angle stations.
- Closed Connecticut ski area Woodbury goes back up for sale.
- The company seeking to build a gondola in Edmonton, Alberta would pay $1.1 million a year to lease city right of way.
- A woman found dead under Anakeesta’s chondola last night is believed to have fallen from the lift, which remains closed today.
- Two men are killed while working to build a Doppelmayr gondola in France.
- Below is the July 8th Notice of Noncompliance the Forest Service sent Keystone regarding unauthorized road construction in Bergman Bowl. Since the letter is three weeks old, Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams sent an update on where things stand.
News Roundup: Contract Awards
- Indy Pass adds Meadowlark, Wyoming and Black Mountain of Maine, teases a big West Coast addition coming next week.
- The Boston Globe visits Gunstock, finds employees refusing to work without managers, a locksmith changing locks and politicians advocating for the resort to be leased to a private operator.
- New England Ski Journal gets former Gunstock GM Tom Day’s side of the story.
- A local architecture firm wins the contract to design and engineer the Eaglecrest Gondola relocation.
- The Maine Land Use Planning Commission wants more information before voting on the Moosehead Lake ski area rebuild.
- Dozens of ski areas reach out to help Plattekill Mountain following last week’s fire with Snowbasin offering a used drive system.
- One lift becomes fully operational at long-closed Cuchara.
- Busch Gardens Tampa Bay delays reopening its VonRoll gondola, citing the scope of work and delays in supplies.
- ORDA seeks public comment on a proposed Lift 7 replacement and gondola maintenance facility at Belleayre.
- ORDA also awards an $11.2 million contract to Doppelmayr for the Bear Den detachable quad at Whiteface.
- Pennsylvania’s first D-Line goes above ground at Camelback. Thanks to Ben Ta for the photos.
Gunstock Shuts Down Following Management Resignations
New Hampshire ski area Gunstock ceased most operations today following a contentious public meeting last night. The county-owned resort’s management resigned en masse, citing treatment by a group of citizens appointed to oversee the ski area. Tom Day, Gunstock’s President and General Manager, tendered his resignation along with other managers including the Chief Financial Officer, Director of Human Resources, Director of Marketing, Director of Resort Services, Director of Snow Sports and Director of Facilities. One of five Gunstock Area Commissioners also resigned. The Laconia Daily Sun reported employees’ exits from the property were overseen by the Belknap County Sheriff’s Department this morning.
The five Gunstock Area Commissioners are appointed by Belknap County’s State Representatives. The Commission has become increasingly involved in day-to-day operations of the ski area in recent years. “Obviously there’s been a lot of change and a lot of you think you can do the job to be able to run the resort,” said Day at the beginning of the meeting. “I know there’s been some discussion about what my role is as far as who runs the ski area and who doesn’t. I feel that my role here is diminished and you probably don’t need me,” he said, offering to stay for two weeks to facilitate a transition.
The ski area, which features five chairlifts and a 1,600 foot vertical drop, has not required taxpayer funds for operations the last 12 years and remits 1.75 percent of its revenue to the county. Just last year Gunstock reported record revenue and season pass sales and announced a major expansion project including new terrain and lifts.
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, himself a former ski resort general manager, criticized the commission and offered support to employees. “Gunstock is truly one of the jewels of the lakes region, but what has been happening over the last year surrounding the Gunstock Area Commission’s inability and unwillingness to work collaboratively with the management team at Gunstock is deeply concerning,” the Governor wrote. He went on to offer employees jobs at state-owned Cannon Mountain or the Parks Department should a resolution not be reached at Gunstock.
The mountain’s summer activities, which include lift rides on the Panorama Express, a mountain coaster and zip line, are closed until further notice. “We truly apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our guests,” said a notice posted on Gunstock’s social channels and signed by Gunstock Mountain Resort Employees.
Update: Thursday afternoon the Gunstock Area Commission issued a statement condemning staff members for resigning and pledging to reopen as soon as possible. “At the Gunstock Area Commission’s monthly meeting last night, the GAC planned discussions with management about ongoing expansion plans. Instead of discussing those plans, the GAC was met with an unsolicited and spontaneous resignation by senior managers and a commissioner,” the statement read. “In light of last night’s unprecedented actions, the GAC is developing plans to ensure Gunstock’s continued operations as seamlessly as possible. Gunstock has an important legacy in the ski industry’s history and the GAC intends to maintain that legacy,” the Commission wrote.
News Roundup: Any Day Now
- British Columbia’s Troll Resort proposes an expansion serviced by a 2,600 foot T-Bar.
- Loon Mountain is selling a 1985 CTEC triple chair.
- White Pass’ former Doppelmayr platter is up for sale again.
- The Forest Service accepts Tamarack’s expansion proposal, which now moves to an environmental review.
- UDOT will announce soon whether it will pursue a gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
- Kendall Mountain rope evacuates its only chairlift.
- Vail Resorts reports improving financial results with skier visits up 11.7% from last year and +2.8% from pre-Covid 2019/20.
- Vail will invest an extra $175 million in employees next year including implementing a $20 per hour minimum wage ($21 for maintenance technicians.)
- A child is uninjured after falling from the only chairlift in the Yukon Territory.
- Juneau moves ahead with its used gondola purchase.
- Keystone shows off a map of the Bergman Bowl expansion.
- The owner of Big Squaw appeals millions of dollars in fines.
- A dispute over whether to expand Gunstock Mountain gets very nasty.
- A new gondola has revitalized an entire community in Eastern Canada.
- Bill Jensen talks about the transformation of Sundance and teases a soon-to-be-announced terrain expansion.
- The lift line is cut for Mayflower’s first lift adjacent to Deer Valley.
News Roundup: Flying High
- Sun Valley and Snowbasin ditch the Epic Pass, will be Ikon Pass and Mountain Collective partners beginning next season.
- Also for next season, Alterra pulls Mammoth, Palisades Tahoe and Sugarbush from the Mountain Collective Pass.
- Cascade Mountain lists the Mogul Monster triple for sale.
- New York State ski areas report a 26 percent increase in revenue so far this season.
- Newly nonprofit Skiland Alaska looks to raise $100,000 for upgrades to its chairlift.
- Jay Peak says it has two viable suitors currently.
- A great podcast features Andy Shepard of Saddleback taking listeners through the mountain’s closure, sale and reopening.
- The team behind Edmonton’s Prairie Sky Gondola says it’s working on another gondola in a different Canadian city.
- Fast Company features a story on gondolas as urban transportation gap fillers.
- Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory is quoted saying this season has gone “shockingly well” despite “pinch points.”
- Leaders in Alaska’s capital city vote to spend $2 million on a used pulse gondola for Eaglecrest Ski Area.
- Big Squaw owner James Confalone is ordered to pay $4.5 million in penalties for timber violations and failure to maintain the ski area.
- Alpine-X proposes a second indoor ski area in Dallas.
- Officials pause pursuit of a Gunstock expansion.
- Flying Yankee at Attitash will be down for the foreseeable future due to an issue with the tension system.
- The Colorado Sun catches up with me to talk about visiting every US ski area.
- A Panorama guest is helicoptered to a hospital after falling off the Mile 1 quad.
- Crystal Mountain confirms a $100 million capital plan will include new lift(s) and expanded terrain in 2023-24.
- The proposed Okanagan Gondola is already moving forward.
- Belleayre and Doppelmayr organize a major gearbox repair operation on the Belleayre Express.
- Skiers criticize staffing and operations at Hunter Mountain.
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
- Leitner unveils a prototype dual mode transport system which combines ropeway technology with autonomous driving.
- Developer Perry Williams still expects to purchase Big Squaw, Maine in the coming months and will change the mountain’s name. Chairs from the former Thompson double are being auctioned.
- New York State resorts saw a 27 percent increase in visits last season with four million skier days.
- Interior BC ski areas again face being cut off from their largest markets, this time due to floods. Sasquatch Mountain Resorts postpones its opening day due to the State of Emergency.
- More than 12,000 people sign a petition asking Whistler Blackcomb to require proof of vaccination for riding gondolas.
- Park City won’t run Eaglet this winter.
- The State of New Hampshire says a replacement Cannon Tram could carry 100 passengers and cost between $24 and 32 million.
- Wachusett’s owners explored purchasing a bubble six pack and made an offer for Jay Peak last year.
- Another great podcast with the legend himself – James Niehues.
- A local newspaper traces the history of the first chairlift and gondola on the West Coast, both located at Sugar Bowl.
- Catamount’s new trail map shows the locations of two new lifts.
- The new Grand Targhee map shows where the Peaked Mountain lift will go next year.
- Attitash introduces a completely new trail map.
- Gunstock will host an open house tomorrow to unveil its new master plan.
- Florida investors propose leasing and operating long-closed Cuchara in Colorado.
News Roundup: Life Behind Lifts
- Gunstock teases a multi-lift expansion with details to come in December.
- Magic Mountain won’t have summit access until at least December 18th due to ongoing lift projects.
- A CBS primetime reality show features an hour of ski area maintenance!
- Kirsten Lynch takes over as CEO of Vail Resorts.
- Sierra-at-Tahoe eyes an early 2022 reopening.
- A Mayflower construction update.
- Doppelmayr releases a new Wir magazine.
- The Cascade Skyline Gondola proposal gains a key endorsement.
- The final logging take place for the Eagle Peak expansion at Lookout Pass.
- Whistler Blackcomb highlights this summer’s big ticket lift maintenance projects.
- Sundance names two new quads Outlaw Express and Stairway.
- MND reports improved results with lift and snowmaking sales up 32 percent.
- Alberta Parks says it will open Hidden Valley this season in the absence of a private operator.
- Hickory, NY looks likely to reopen after six seasons.
- Big Sky’s new map is out showing Swift Current 6.
News Roundup: Settling Up
- Doppelmayr and the Government of Bolivia settle a multi-million dollar dispute over payment for urban gondola lines already completed.
- A small child falls from a lift at Ski Sundown.
- The world’s longest multi-section gondola opens in Serbia.
- Les Otten’s company takes 100 percent ownership of The Balsams.
- Brundage Mountain temporarily closes a lift due to Covid-related staffing issues.
- A shutdown of skiing has cost 9,000 jobs and CA$90 million in Ontario.
- The Wenatchee Express won’t open January 15th and a new date is TBD.
- Laurel Mountain closes for a week due to lift issues but will reopen today.
- French ski resorts remain closed through at least next week.
- Bartholet opens a new production site and teases an autonomous ropeway solution coming soon.
- The Sea to Sky Gondola sues insurance brokers over business interruption coverage and claims. The company has also ordered a fourth batch of cabins from CWA and intends to reopen late spring or early summer.
- Vail Resorts acknowledges a rough start to the season with skier visits down 16.6 percent, lift ticket revenue down 20.9 percent, retail/rental down 39.2 percent, ski school down 52.6 percent and dining down 66.2 percent through January 3rd.
- Cuchara gets close to reopening with one of four chairlifts.
- A Colorado appeals court upholds that waivers broadly protect ski resorts from chairlift-related injury claims.
- The Province of British Columbia and Big White will host a virtual public meeting regarding the resort’s ambitious master plan on January 26th.
- Spirit Mountain remains at a financial crossroads.
- Gunstock President Tom Day discusses what lift projects he’d like to see in the future and much more.
- With a part fast-tracked from Italy, Kimberley’s lone detachable chairlift could reopen as early as Sunday.
- A New York ski club fundraises for a new T-Bar cable.
- Parts are already arriving for Catamount’s new Glade triple.