- Massanutten takes down its Borvig J-Bar.
- Breckenridge posts a Freedom SuperChair progress report along with a new trail map.
- The Atlantic Gondola carries its first passengers in Nova Scotia.
- Kicking Horse shows how it feeds a captive grizzly bear by throwing food from the Golden Eagle Express.
- Heavenly ends summer operations early due to smoke and fire danger.
- The Caldor Fire threatens both Sierra at Tahoe and Kirkwood.
- Alta Sierra narrowly escapes being burned by a different fire.
- Environmentalists use balloons to demonstrate their opposition to gondola cabins and towers in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The last chance to comment on the gondola proposal is September 3rd.
- All remaining resorts in Australia and New Zealand close due to Covid and operators are devastated.
- Highlander Lift Services & Construction is hiring team members to help build the first two lifts at Utah’s Wasatch Peaks Ranch.
- Michigan’s Alpine Valley is under new ownership, widely rumored to be Wisconsin Resorts Inc., though I have been unable to independently confirm that.
- Holiday Valley makes progress on its self-installation of a new Doppelmayr detachable.
- A new lawsuit alleges the State of Vermont knew about and failed to protect investors from the fraud at Burke Mountain.
- County planners recommend rejection of the Pandora’s expansion proposal on Aspen Mountain.
- Parks Canada again says no to a Banff-Norquay gondola.
- The Forest Service seeks public comments on Whitefish Mountain Resort’s Chair 4 replacement project.
- The Mountain Collective adds four awesome resorts for 2020-21: Chamonix, Grand Targhee, Panorama and Sugarloaf.
- Kicking Horse celebrates 20 years of operation on the site of the former Whitetooth Ski Area.
- Sun Valley’s Cold Springs double is about to end a 50 year run but will live on at a resort in California.
- Arizona Snowbowl’s Agassiz reopens for one last hurrah after being down since January 18th with a gear issue.
- Hundreds of ski resorts in Austria, Italy and Switzerland are forced to close for the season due to coronavirus.
- Berkshire East, Catamount, Middlebury Snow Bowl and Mt. Abram become the first US ski resorts to shut down due to the virus.
- Belleayre, Gore, Whiteface and the Lake Placid Olympic Complex close gondolas for the season for the same reason. Snowbird’s tram is shut down until further notice. Aspen Snowmass will no longer load unrelated parties in the same gondola cabins.
- Indiana Beach, one of only four venues with an aerial lift in the Hoosier State, closes permanently.
- The two year old LST Ropeways detachable in France shuts down indefinitely again. Instead of the LST design, MND America will offer Bartholet detachables in the United States.
- Vail Resorts reports financial results: skier visits are down 5.3 percent percent this season through March 1st but lift revenue is up 0.8 percent. On a conference call, CEO Rob Katz addresses coronavirus, lift lines at Vail and possible future acquisitions.
- Timberline Mountain promises to make multiple big announcements at a media event Tuesday. All three existing lifts are in poor condition and being dismantled.
- Arctaris Impact Fund doesn’t expect to realize a profit on its Saddleback investment until it sells the resort in 7-10 years.
- An enterprising family is building the first Australian-designed and manufactured chairlift in 30 years for private use only.
- Alterra Mountain Company CEO Rusty Gregory will deliver a keynote address on Monday in Park City covering the rise of Alterra, industry consolidation and multi-resort pass products.
- For the second time in three weeks, a sudden stop on the Mont-Sainte-Anne gondola elicits an emergency response and the lift is once again closed indefinitely.
- Valemount Glacier Destinations says it’s in talks with both Leitner-Poma and Doppelmayr for construction of phase one lifts in 2018-19.
- SE Group to present nine alignment options for a new Lift 1A on Aspen Mountain.
- La Paz breaks ground on its 17th and 18th gondolas, set to open in 2019.
- The Saddleback sale still hasn’t closed and an update suggests a shift in focus from building new lifts to reopening with a limited number of existing ones.
- Here’s a great rundown of Sigma’s new Symphony 10 gondola cabin, which complements the Diamond series.
- In surprise announcement, Teton Pass says it won’t open this winter. This awesome but remote Montana resort has a 1973 SLI double and a number of used chairlifts in the parking lot for possible expansion.
- New Zealand’s longest chairlift will reopen December 5th, nine months after a wildfire burned chairs and ruined the haul rope.
- Forest Service releases draft draft Environmental Assessment for Alta’s Baldy tram, Flora lift and Wildcat/Sunnyside replacement projects. Final public comment is now open.
- World’s largest gold producer proposes building a ski resort with up to 18 lifts on a former mine site near Hope, BC.
- The Economist looks at why Latin American countries build so many urban gondolas.
- The Grand Canyon Escalade bill goes before the Navajo Nation Council on Tuesday and needs a two-thirds majority to pass.
- Squaw Alpine names 13,000-foot interconnect gondola California Express, plans 2019 opening.
A transformer failed yesterday afternoon at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, knocking two lifts out of service. Crews restarted the Catamount quad on auxiliary but the Golden Eagle Express Gondola sustained damage to its safety systems such that it could not operate. With nightfall approaching, some of the gondola’s 75 passengers were plucked out of cabins by helicopter at sunset, making for some pretty spectacular GoPro footage. The rest were roped down by ground teams over about five hours. The 8-passenger, 11,188′ Golden Eagle Express was built by Poma in 2000 and rises more than 3,500 vertical feet. The gondola remained closed today but the mountain hopes to have it back in business tomorrow.
Kicking Horse posted the following statement on Facebook this morning:
“Further to an electrical issue, the Golden Eagle Express Gondola was manually evacuated yesterday evening. With everyone safe, warm and fed, we apologize to each of you involved for the inconvenience. We are thankful that everyone is safe and credit to the talented team of professionals; Kicking Horse Mountain Resort teams, Golden and District Search and Rescue & Canadian Ski Patrol. We are hopeful that the Gondola will be spinning later today, though currently is still on standby. We are offering skiing and snowboarding via the Catamount Chair & Pioneer Chair. Stay tuned for further updates.”
North America’s top ten longest lifts are all gondolas or aerial tramways and only half of them are directly used for skiing. Silver Mountain’s Gondola is number one although it is no longer the world’s longest. Since 2014, that title has belonged to the Bursa Uludag Gondola in Turkey which is a ridiculous 28,871 feet. This list does not include systems which have multiple haul ropes, such as Blackcomb’s Excalibur, which I consider to be two separate gondolas.
1. Silver Mountain Gondola, Silver Mountain, Idaho – 1990 VonRoll 8-passenger gondola
16,350′ ride time 16.4 minutes
2. Sunshine Village Gondola, Sunshine Village, Alberta – 2001 Poma 8-passenger gondola
14,894′ ride time 12.4 minutes
3. Peak 2 Peak Gondola, Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia – 2008 Doppelmayr 3S tri-cable gondola
14,497′ ride time 9.8 minutes
4. Sandia Peak Tramway, Albuquerque, New Mexico – 1965 Bell 50-passenger tramway
5. Silver Queen Gondola, Aspen Mountain, Colorado – 1986 Poma 6-passenger gondola
13,216′ ride time 13.2 minutes