News Roundup: Ramping Up

News Roundup: Even Ten

Instagram Tuesday: Grand Gondolas

From beach to this 🗻#peak2peak #blackcomb #whistler #mountains

A photo posted by Haley Van Der Linden (@haley.vanderlinden) on

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Pulse Lifts

These days building a detachable lift means a capital investment of at least $3 million plus around $100,000 in annual maintenance.  A so-called ‘pulse’ lift offers the speed of a detachable system with similar infrastructure to a traditional fixed-grip lift.  Chairs or cabins are grouped together into ‘pulses’ and the entire lift slows down for loading and unloading.  When comparing types of aerial lifts there are always trade-offs; here they include low capacity and long headways.  Most pulse lifts can only move 300-600 passengers per hour and headway – the time a passenger has to wait for a carrier to show up – can be minutes instead of as low as six seconds.  Perfect for certain applications but unsuitable in most.

Pine Ridge lift at the Yellowstone Club, Montana.
Pine Ridge lift at the Yellowstone Club, Montana.

There are currently 17 pulse lifts operating in the US, Canada and Mexico; all but three are gondolas.  Nearly all were built in the last 15 years.  Panorama Mountain Village, Northstar California, Steamboat, Snowmass, Canyons Resort, and Le Massif all use pulse gondolas to connect village areas.  These lifts are usually less than 3,000 feet long and convenient for skiers and non-skiers alike.  Other pulse gondolas are attractions in their own right such the Iron Mountain Tramway at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, SkyTrail at Trees of Mystery, the Gondola at Royal Gorge Bridge Bridge & Park and the Riverfront Park SkyRide in Spokane.  There is also a new Leitner-Poma pulse gondola in Orizaba, Mexico with tripod towers that are hundreds of feet tall.

Spokane Falls SkyRide, built by Doppelmayr.
Riverfront Park SkyRide, built by Doppelmayr.

Snow Valley in Edmonton, Alberta has a very unique pulse chairlift built by Doppelmayr in 2008.  Instead of having groups of 3-5 chairs, it has just two groups of 20 closely-spaced quad chairs.  Because it is only 850 feet long, the lift can move 1,378 skiers per hour at up to 5 m/s, the same speed as most detachable lifts.  In fact the ride is only about a minute.  The lift slows to a beginner-friendly 0.8 m/s for loading and unloading.  Because of the low speed, skiers ride around the bullwheel at the top and unload facing down the hill.  It’s the only lift I know of with 180-degree unloading.

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