News Roundup: Wish Lists

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News Roundup: Norway

  • Arctaris Impact Fund still wants to buy Saddleback but no deal has been reached after more than a year.
  • The Banff-Norquay gondola project faces stiff headwinds from Parks Canada.
  • The latest podcast from Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz highlights how the company takes over operations at newly-acquired resorts.
  • A judge rejects the Hermitage Club’s proposed restructuring plan as members look to reopen under new management.
  • In other Hermitage news, a New Jersey bank seeks to repossess 46 snow guns.
  • Here is the complete incident narrative from the February SeaWorld gondola deropement.
  • Lift construction gets underway at Skeetawk, America’s first all-new ski area since Cherry Peak in 2015.
  • Village construction resumes at Tamarack with Wildwood Express installation to follow this fall.
  • A helicopter delivers most of the new Steamboat gondola towers.
  • Last week’s gondola incident at Vail was not a result of tampering or sabotage.
  • Medellín’s sixth urban gondola, Line P, is on track to open in December.
  • After 1,231 days as Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area, the Badger Pass name returns thanks to a $12 million settlement between the National Park Service and two competing concession companies.
  • I spoke too soon on Eaglecrest possibly building Alaska’s first gondola.  Icy Strait Point on Chichagof Island is planning a gondola project to open as soon as next summer.
  • The haul rope is spliced for a rare fixed grip chondola in Illinois.
  • Mi Teleférico in La Paz broke its own daily record again on Monday with 583,841 riders, more than average weekday ridership for Boston’s three subway lines combined.

  • Municipally-owned Great Bear resorts to private fundraising in hopes of replacing its Borvig chairlift.
  • Placer County leaders will vote Tuesday on the Squaw-Alpine gondola.
  • Simon Fraser University steps up its Burnaby Mountain gondola marketing.
  • The Los Angeles Griffith Park gondola study is underway.
  • Eagle’s Rest 2.0 nears completion at Jackson Hole.

News Roundup: Win-Win

News Roundup: Skier Days

  • After missing last season, Mt. Timothy gears up to reopen under new ownership.
  • Tariffs on imported Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum are history as of last weekend.
  • The “Balsams Bill” becomes law in New Hampshire.
  • Creditors seek an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy of the Hermitage Club.
  • Jackson Hole wants to increase clearance under the aerial tramway for big snow years.
  • The first indoor chairlift in America should finally open this fall in New Jersey.
  • Utah crushes its previous skier visit record, hosting more than five million skiers for the first time in history.
  • Jay Peak and Burke Mountain’s former owner and ex-CEO are indicted by a federal grand jury on 14 counts.
  • As of April 30th, 26 potential Jay Peak buyers had signed non-disclosure agreements.  The resort says revenue was up 4 percent this season, skier visits increased 3.5 percent and room nights shot up 11 percent.
  • Burke Mountain is still losing money but revenue increased by 26 percent this season, skier visits were up 20 percent and room nights 47 percent.
  • With the Forest Service’s blessing, Ski Cooper embarks on adding 71 acres and a Leitner-Poma T-Bar for next season.
  • The Poma-built urban cable car in the Dominican Republic capital transported over four million passengers in its first year.
  • Mexico City’s transportation authority rejects all three Cablebus bids from Leitner, Bartholet and Doppelmayr.
  • A Loveland, Colorado developer still wants to build a gondola as part of an amusement complex.
  • The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority selects Elon Musk’s Boring Company to build a new people mover over Doppelmayr.
  • Still no opening date for the Disney Skyliner but gondola merchandise has arrived.
  • In a few years, you may be able to ride twin tramways between Russia and China with immigration and customs facilities at each end.

Eagle’s Rest Lift Returning to Jackson Hole

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The Bridger-Teton National Forest approved construction of a new Eagle’s Rest chairlift along with two possible alignments for Sweetwater in 2015.

The list of firms which have supplied ski lifts to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is impressive: Hall, Willamette, Murray-Latta, Mueller, Riblet, Heron, Doppelmayr, Garaventa CTEC, Lift Engineering, Poma, Doppelmayr CTEC, Garaventa and Leitner-Poma.  This fall, Skytrac Lifts will join the club as it builds a new version of one of Jackson Hole’s inaugural chairlifts from 1965.  The new Eagle’s Rest quad will follow a revised alignment from the original, which was removed to make way for the three station Sweetwater Gondola in 2016.  Running across six towers between the Sweetwater and Bridger gondolas, the new top station will be located near the bottom of Sundance Gully.  Beginner skiers and snowboarders will also be able to reach the lift from the new Solitude Station learning center.

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The new lift will travel just south and uphill of the old one, which was retired in 2016.

Eagle’s Rest will become the third new lift in five years for Jackson Hole, which just concluded its busiest season ever with more than 715,000 skier visits.  The Ikon Pass partner mountain will also add 14 new cabins to Sweetwater, increasing capacity between the base area, Solitude Station and Casper Restaurant by nearly 30 percent.  The new cabins will match the 48 Omega IV 8 LWI models currently in service.  Both the Skytrac quad chair and CWA cabins will be ready for guests this November.

News Roundup: A Long Time Coming

News Roundup: Ahead

  • Doppelmayr and CWA unveil world’s most luxurious gondola cabin with air conditioning, a fridge and more powered by carriage wheel generators.
  • The five chairlift Hermitage Club lays off 50 to 80 employees and cuts ski operations to weekends only, a result of significant financial challenges.
  • Children fall from lifts at West Mountain and Windham Mountain.
  • 2022 Winter Olympics host China is up to an impressive 236 ski areas with at least one chairlift.
  • Woodward Park City remains in limbo pending the outcome of three appeals.
  • Theme park projects such as the Doppelmayr-supplied Hogwarts Express and Disney Skyliner drive record revenue for PCL Construction of Edmonton.
  • There was a deropement followed by partial rope evac of the triple chair at Red Lodge Mountain over Presidents’ weekend.
  • Apres Vous at Jackson Hole was evacuated yesterday following a gearbox issue.
  • Sunday River reveals why it takes 3.5 hours to put cabins back on the Chondola after a windstorm.
  • Here’s more construction eye candy from Disney World.
  • Stella, the only six-pack in Idaho, was named and themed by a former Disney imagineer.
  • Catch up on the upcoming season pass battle and what else lies ahead for Alterra with company President Dave Perry.
  • Speaking of the Ikon Pass, it now includes 400 lifts with new partners Revelstoke, Sugarbush, Sunshine Village, Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay for $899.

Instagram Tuesday: Reversible

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

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Inside the Sweetest Parking Around

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For the first time since their journey across the Atlantic, Jackson Hole’s newest gondola cabins slept inside last night.  With a parking and storage facility officially commissioned at Sweetwater‘s Solitude Station, 48 luxury vehicles that cost tens of thousands of dollars each now have a world-class home that brings together the latest lift technology with proven principles.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort opened its Bridger Gondola barn in 1998 and 84 cabins have been going inside for twenty years there.  The CWA X models are in incredible shape for their age and number of hours, a testament to their quality construction, dedicated maintenance staff and indoor storage.

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Sweetwater’s new cabin storage building is located in an underutilized area adjacent to the middle station.

JHMR launched gondola number two in December 2016 and its CWA Omega IV cabins remained on the line continuously until yesterday.  The winter of 2016-17 proved to be a monster in the Tetons and while the cabins performed well, fifty feet of snow often turned to ice on flat roofs.  Frozen chunks would bounce up and down, making sounds that mimicked falling metal.  Jackson Hole sometimes goes weeks or even months without a thaw and ice would also accumulate on the cabin floors and in ski racks (other fun liquids would freeze too!)  Ice storms that can cripple door mechanisms and plague detachable grips thankfully never materialized last year and the days of worrying that storm would come are now over.

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Game-Changing Ikon Pass to Launch with 23 Mountain Resorts

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Alterra Mountain Company dropped a bomb at the Outdoor Retailer/SIA show this morning, announcing the forthcoming Ikon Pass will bring together its dozen North American resorts along with eleven other major mountains.  Aspen Skiing Company, Boyne Resorts, Powdr Co. and more have partnered with Alterra to add destinations such as Aspen Snowmass, Alta, Snowbird, Big Sky, Killington and Jackson Hole.  “The Ikon Pass is a collaboration of like-minded mountain destinations across North America where incredible terrain, unique character and local traditions are celebrated,” said Erik Forsell, Chief Marketing Officer for Alterra Mountain Company. “We’ve curated a community of iconic destinations. We believe this new pass offers tremendous opportunity and appeal to mountain enthusiasts who have a passion for outdoor adventure.”

Pass options will range from a set number of days at varying destinations to an ultimate, unlimited season pass.  I can’t stress enough how much this changes big mountain skiing in North America.  For years now, Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass has been the largest and most successful season pass product in the world, now offering access to 272 lifts and 44,000 acres at 15 mountains in North America and Australia to some 750,000 passholders.  Ikon will one-up Vail’s terrain offering with access to 23 top-tier North American resorts, a ridiculous 363 lifts and 48,840 acres (for both passes, I am counting gondolas, chairlifts and surface lifts with towers.  If carpets and rope tows are included, the Epic Pass offers 340 lifts while Ikon has 434.)

Ikon Pass resorts for 2018-19 will be:

  • Alta, Utah
  • Alpine Meadows, California
  • Aspen Highlands, Colorado
  • Aspen Mountain, Colorado
  • Bear Mountain, California
  • Blue Mountain, Ontario
  • Big Sky, Montana
  • Buttermilk, Colorado
  • Copper Mountain, Colorado
  • Deer Valley, Utah
  • Eldora, Colorado
  • Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  • June Mountain, California
  • Killington, Vermont
  • Loon Mountain, New Hampshire
  • Mammoth Mountain, California
  • Snowbird, Utah
  • Snowmass, Colorado
  • Snowshoe, West Virginia
  • Snow Summit, California
  • Squaw Valley, California
  • Steamboat, Colorado
  • Stratton, Vermont
  • Sugarloaf, Maine
  • Sunday River, Maine
  • Tremblant, Quebec
  • Winter Park, Colorado

Ikon passholders will also receive discounts and special offers at CMH heli-skiing in British Columbia.  Epic holders already enjoy limited access to 30 European resorts. The Liftopia-powered Mountain Collective Pass, which allows destination skiers to sample many large resorts, will remain an option in its current form and also go on sale in March.  The M.A.X. Pass, founded by Intrawest, Powdr and Boyne, will sunset.  Specific Ikon tiers and prices will be released in the coming weeks.

As an employee of one of the independent resorts on the MCP and now Ikon Pass, I watched first hand the worry of consolidation last spring turn to optimism in the fall.  Now I know why.