News Roundup: Northward

  • Sun Peaks considers four possible lift projects for summer 2018, most likely being a CAD$8 million replacement of Crystal with an extended detachable.  The world’s longest fixed-grip chairlift, Burfield, could be shortened with a corresponding capacity increase or new lifts added to Orient Ridge or West Morrisey.
  • Ski Magazine updates us on Big Sky 2025 and plans for a new tram or south side lift on Lone Peak.
  • A power outage closes Lake Louise to the public on World Cup Saturday.
  • Burke Mountain says goodbye to Willoughby, a 1988 CTEC quad.
  • The Florida Department of Transportation studies possible gondola routes from Sarasota to nearby barrier islands.
  • Mad River Glen launches $6.5 million Preserve our Paradise capital campaign which includes replacing the 1966 Mueller Birdland with a newer used chairlift.
  • Upcoming Aspen Mountain master plan update likely to include new Pandora’s, Gent’s Ridge and Bell Mountain lifts.
  • Ski Apache is replacing its 1981 Riblet Chair 6 with a brand new Doppelmayr.
  • Less than two years after opening a $7.3 million chairlift, the Hermitage Club falls behind on water and sewer payments.
  • Enjoy these sneak peak photos of two new quad chairs at Giants Ridge courtesy of Benjamin B.

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Rebuilding Mad River Glen’s Single Chair

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The single chair at Mad River Glen in Vermont is not the only single chair around but it’s certainly the newest, nicest and most famous.  Originally built in 1947-48 by American Steel & Wire Company, it has hauled skiers up Stark Mountain for the past 65 years.  The chair at MRG was AS&W’s 15th and cost $75,000 not including installation. Originally powered by a diesel motor, it had no electrical circuit at all during the early years.  Safety systems on towers and bullwheels were added later.  In 1995, Mad River Glen became the first ski area member-owned co-operative in the United States and it still does not have any slopeside lodging nor does it allow snowboarding.

The Single Chair during fall foliage season.
The Single Chair during fall foliage season.

By 2005, the diesel-powered single chair had become too expensive to maintain.  Chairs were failing NDT, the lift had no cable catchers or bullwheel retention and replacement parts were no longer available (except ones cannibalized from the AS&W single that had been replaced at nearby Stowe.)  Doppelmayr CTEC was brought in by the co-operative’s Board of Directors and developed two proposals – a $1.54 million rebuild of the single chair or an all-new double chair for $300,000 less.

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Oldest Operating Lifts in the US & Canada

1. Single Chair, Mad River Glen, VT – 1948 American Steel & Wire Single Chair

The single chair at MRG still has its original towers and terminal structures but everything else was replaced by Doppelmayr CTEC in 2007.  As part of that project, towers were removed, sandblasted and repainted before being flown back to new foundations with new line gear.  Doppelmayr also replaced the bullwheels, chairs, grips, drive and haul rope.  This begs the question of ‘when is an old lift a new lift?’

2. Gatlinburg Sky Lift, Gatlinburg, TN – 1954 Riblet double

Everett Kircher of Boyne fame bought this chairlift from Sugar Bowl, CA for $3,000 in 1954.  Originally it was a single chair built in 1939.  Modified sheave assemblies were machined at the Kircher’s car dealership in Michigan when the lift went to Tennessee.  At some point it appears to have gotten newer-style Riblet towers.  Boyne Resorts still operates this lift 800 miles from their nearest ski resort. (edit: JP notes in the comments below that this version was replaced by a Riblet double in 1991.  Thanks JP!)

3. Chair 1, White Pass, WA – 1955 1962 Riblet double

This lift only operates on busy weekends and holidays but it’s an old one and a good one .  A classic Pacific Northwest center-pole double with very few modifications from its original design and no safety bars! (edit: Brian notes in the comments that this lift was actually installed as Chair 2 in 1962.  The original chair 1 operated 1955-1994.)

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Chair one at White Pass lives on despite an adjacent high speed quad.

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