Grouse Mountain to Replace Blue Tram with a Gondola

Northland Properties has announced a CA$30+ million investment to transform the arrival experience at Grouse Mountain. If approved, a modern eight passenger gondola would replace the 1966 jig back affectionately known as the Blue Skyride. The state-of-the-art gondola will provide continuous loading and a more comfortable experience for up to 2,000 guests per hour (1,000 per direction). The lift is planned to cross under the Red Skyride, which today provides the only public access from the parking lot to the mountain. The 100 passenger Garaventa-built tramway will remain in service for additional capacity and redundancy.

Northland, which also owns Revelstoke Mountain Resort, has partnered with Leitner-Poma to supply the gondola. The 27 cabin, 13 tower machine would travel at 5.1 meters per second, achieving a ride time under six minutes. Gondola cabins would be parked when not in use beneath the upper terminal. The estimated CA$30-35 million project also includes a reconfigured drop off area and 193 new parking spaces. Visitors would see reduced wait times and Grouse would be able to operate year round with no maintenance closures.

“Grouse Mountain is proud to be an integral pillar of the North Vancouver community since 1926 and we look forward to upgrading our facilities leading up to our 100-year anniversary,” notes the project website. The public is invited to learn more about the plan via a virtual public meeting taking place now through September 27th. The District of North Vancouver welcomes public comments as it considers approval. If given the green light, construction on the gondola is expected to last 18 months with an opening targeted for December 2023.

News Roundup: Valleys

Another Six Pack for Snowbasin

Utah’s Snowbasin Resort has partnered with Leitner-Poma of America for its next big project, a six place chair in Middle Bowl. The lift will replace Snowbasin’s oldest fixed grip, a 1979 CTEC triple. Together with the recently-built Wildcat Express, the new six pack will offer an attractive alternate route up the mountain to the Needles Gondola. Middle Bowl Express will be the first Leitner-Poma lift for Sinclair Oil Corporation, the parent of Snowbasin and Sun Valley.

“Middle Bowl is a legendary lift that runs through the heart of Snowbasin,” said Davy Ratchford, General Manager of Snowbasin Resort. “We are committed to our guest experience and advanced lift infrastructure, so we’re thrilled to provide this upgrade to improve our guests’ access to upper mountain skiing.”

According to planning documents submitted to Weber County, the new Middle Bowl will load to the north of the current base station and terminate above Needles Lodge, allowing more room for egress. It will rise 1,190 vertical feet over 4,803 feet of slope length and 18 towers. Initial capacity is planned at 1,800 passengers per hour with 51 chairs on the line. In the future, 17 carriers could be added to reach 2,400 skiers per hour. A ride up Middle Bowl will last just 4.9 minutes compared with 9.2 minutes on the old lift at full speed.

Leitner-Poma is currently looking for employees to help build the six pack beginning in mid-July through November.

News Roundup: Watch Live

B2B Gondola to Unite Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows will become one this summer with construction of an interconnect gondola to coincide with the renaming of the resort. The innovative three section gondola will follow in the footsteps of other great interconnect lifts: the Quicksilver Gondola unifying Park City and The Canyons, the Peak 2 Peak Gondola linking Whistler and Blackcomb and the Slide Brook Express connecting Mt. Ellen to Sugarbush. Leitner-Poma of America will build the 2.2 mile B2B (base to base) gondola, comprising of four stations, more than 30 towers and two drive systems.

The current Red Dog triple will be shortened to make way for the Olympic Valley station. Cabins departing this terminal will cross over the Exhibition and KT-22 lifts before arriving at the first angle station on Olympic Ridge. This section of the lift could operate independently without the other two segments in operation. At most times, cabins will continue to a middle segment. A second angle station will then redirect cabins toward Alpine Meadows without offering unloading for the general public. Alpine Meadows’ base station will sit near the new Treeline Cirque detachable quad, offering guests easy access to all of Alpine’s base area lifts. The system will transport 1,400 passengers per hour in each direction with a ride time of 16 minutes.

The $60 million project is part of Alterra’s $207 million capital plan announced today for 2021-22. The commitment includes $111 million in significant resort projects, $31 million for enterprise technology systems and $65 million worth of resort maintenance. “This past season has proven that our guests are loyal, passionate and looking forward to the many seasons ahead, and we plan to provide them with a premier guest experience as we focus on the long-term future of our mountain destinations,” said Rusty Gregory, CEO of Alterra. “Alterra Mountain Company has exceeded our initial five-year goal to invest over half a billion dollars into our destinations, in just four years. We continue to be committed to infusing meaningful capital into on-mountain enhancements, base area development, and advanced technology that will elevate the mountain experience for all who visit.” In addition to the B2B Gondola, the company announced a transformation of Steamboat’s Gondola Square, which will include moving the Steamboat Gondola base terminal. The first section of the proposed Wild Blue Gondola is planned for installation next year, subject to Forest Service approval.

Whitefish Orders a Sizable Six Pack

With strong visitation and record season pass sales, Whitefish Mountain Resort today announced major lift projects for each of the next two summers. The big news is a deal with Leitner-Poma for a six place lift replacing Chair 4. The 1978 Stadeli triple had a great run but boosting out-of-base capacity and relieving pressure from the Big Mountain Express became top priorities for the resort. The new flagship will lift guests from the base lodge to Inspiration Ridge along a 5,700 foot alignment. Rising 2,200 vertical feet in less than seven minutes, it will be the largest lift investment in resort history and the first Leitner-Poma installation in the state of Montana. Preliminary work will begin this summer with completion scheduled for late 2022.

This summer, Leitner-Poma subsidiary Skytrac will complete the planned move of Chair 8 to higher elevation terrain in Hellroaring Basin. This will allow the basin to open earlier in the season and create a new pod of defined runs.

Another planned project already approved by the Forest Service is a third new lift to Hellroaring Peak. The timeline for that one has not yet been determined.

“I think it is important for passholders to know that the resort continues to reinvest into its infrastructure each year providing more value to the season pass,” said Dan Graves, Chief Executive Officer for Whitefish. “These are truly exciting times at Whitefish Mountain Resort.”

News Roundup: Good Friday

News Roundup: No Reservations

Wasatch Peaks Ranch to Debut with Two Bubble Chairlifts

Leitner-Poma of America has been selected to build the chairlifts at Wasatch Peaks Ranch, a private Utah ski community scheduled to open for the 2021-2022 season. The first two of nine planned lifts will service approximately 55 percent of the mountain’s 3,000-plus acres of terrain and are planned to feature both bubbles and heated seats. “We are honored to be working with the team at Wasatch Peaks Ranch to help make their vision come to life,” said Daren Cole, President of Leitner-Poma. “We developed a custom plan for the chairlifts to ensure the uphill amenities are in line with the elevated guest experience at this new community.”

Wasatch Peaks Ranch is located in Morgan County, 37 miles northeast of Salt Lake City on the backside of the Wasatch Range. The private mountain will offer one of the longest vertical drops in the west at 3,600 feet. Skiers and snowboarders will have access to pristine, groomed terrain along with natural, untracked peaks and chutes for an intermediate and advanced experience.

The initial two lifts Leitner-Poma is building in 2021 will provide access to 1,650 acres. The first lift is a high speed quad that will take skiers and snowboarders out of the base area and is more than 8,000 feet long, providing access to most of the ski mountain’s intermediate and advanced terrain. The second lift, also a high-speed quad, will provide access to expert open bowl terrain with ridge top views of the surrounding area.

“We selected LPOA to build our chairlifts not only because of their excellent track record and years of industry experience, but also because they were willing to work with us to design and customize a lift experience that mirrors the luxury guest experience that our members will have,” said Bob Wheaton, president and chief executive officer of Wasatch Peaks Ranch. “This included everything from technical specifications to thoughtful applications like selecting lifts to provide more space for our members as well as identifying comforts such as heated seats and bubbles.”

Approximately 80 percent of the components for the Wasatch Peaks Ranch lifts will be produced in the United States at LPOA’s Grand Junction, Colorado facility. Both phase one lifts are expected to be operational by December.

News Roundup: Next Up