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.”

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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.

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Leitner-Poma to Build New Snow King Lifts

Jackson Hole will soon be a three gondola valley with the addition of an enclosed lift on what locals affectionately call the Town Hill. Leitner-Poma will not only supply Snow King Mountain’s new 8 passenger gondola but also a Skytrac chairlift servicing new backside terrain. The projects were recently green lighted by both the Town of Jackson and United States Forest Service. The approval is still subject to a 45 day objection period, but the ski area wanted to get in line early with Leitner-Poma and Skytrac with the goal of completion for the 2021-22 season.

“We are extremely excited to take this leap forward for Snow King to ensure that the historic ski area can be economically viable and sustainable long into the future,” said Snow King Mountain President Ryan Stanley.  “We have gone through a very extensive review process with both the Town of Jackson and USFS over the past five years and are now looking forward to making some exceptional improvements to the Town Hill that the community will be able to enjoy for decades to come.” The gondola will be the first detachable lift for 82 year old Snow King and will replace a 1981 CTEC double. To make room for the bottom gondola terminal, the Cougar triple‘s drive station will be moved 250 feet uphill.

A ride on the gondola will end at a new summit lodge featuring panoramic views of the Town of Jackson and Teton Range. The gondola will operate year round for skiers, sightseers and mountain bikers. In winter, a mountaintop learning area will feature three new surface lifts in a scenic setting. More advanced riders can look forward to new trails and glades on the southern flank of Snow King.

The two lift order is one of the first major projects announced for 2021, which could be a busy one for lift companies. More than a dozen North American 2020 projects were delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic and hopefully will be completed next year.

Nordic Valley to Debut Six Passenger Lift

The once sleepy ski area in Eden, Utah will grow dramatically this winter with the addition of a high speed lift and new terrain. Leitner-Poma of America will supply the yet-to-be-named six place chair, which will move 2,500 skiers per hour and service approximately 50 acres of terrain the first season.  When completed, the expansion will more than triple skiable terrain with 300 new acres. “The pioneers who started Nordic Valley dreamed of sharing this amazing terrain,” said Brandon Fessler, Nordic Valley general manager. “Our team has worked hard to realize that dream, and we cannot wait to share it with our guests, our friends and our neighbors this winter.” The lift will rise 1,400 vertical feet in just 4.2 minutes with a slope length of 4,213 feet. It will become the first six passenger lift built by Leitner-Poma in Utah.

Fast-growing Mountain Capital Partners took over operations of Nordic Valley in 2018. This expansion project will be located entirely on private property, though more lifts could eventually be added on Forest Service land at higher elevation.

MCP is also partnering with Leitner-Poma to add a base-to-summit Telemix at Arizona Snowbowl this summer.  The two projects combine to form the largest lift investment in North American skiing for the 2020/21 season.  While some resort groups have paused expansion capital due to the pandemic, Mountain Capital Partners and select others continue to forge ahead.

Nordic Valley expects to open the new six passenger lift early this winter, increasing its vertical drop by 65 percent.