- Cloudchaser construction begins July 1 at Mt. Bachelor.
- La Paz’s gondola network sets a new daily ridership record – 180,000 passengers on three lines last Monday.
- Poma signs three year partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to promote environmentally-friendly urban cable transport.
- Doppelmayr sponsors exhibition at the Vienna Technical Museum showcasing ropeways in cities.
- Vista Ridge lost a carpet lift and might have to do some extra NDT but came away from the Fort McMurray wildfire relatively unscathed.
- It’s still not entirely clear when Vermont’s only aerial tram will reopen.
- The first LST lift in North America is under construction at Cannon Mountain.
- Local paper gives a progress report on Wilmot Mountain’s Vail makeover.
- Powdr announces Woodward Park City with lift-served downhill mountain biking and terrain parks to be built on 126 acres at Gorgoza Park.
- Powdr also commits to building a new lift at Eldora next summer, most likely the Cannonball six-pack.
- Laurel Mountain hosts a tower flying party.
- The President of Simon Fraser University puts the Burnaby Mountain Gondola back on the table in hopes of replacing 25,000 daily bus trips between campus and Vancouver’s SkyTrain Millenium Line with a 3S.
Mt. Bachelor will open the long-awaited east side expansion served by a new high speed quad called Cloudchaser in time for Christmas. Powdr Corp. has signed a nearly $6 million contract with Doppelmayr to install the lift this summer. The project will add 635 acres of skiable terrain to Mt. Bachelor, making it the 5th largest ski area in the United States. This will be the first new terrain serviced by a new lift since the Northwest Express was added in 1996. With the addition of Cloudchaser, Mt. Bachelor will have eight detachable quad chairs serving more than 4,300 acres. The new lift will rise 1,448 vertical feet with a slope length of 6,576 feet and 21 towers.
Mt. Bachelor will host a Cloudchaser launch party on May 7th with free skiing and entertainment. “This is an exciting milestone for the entire team here at Mt. Bachelor and for you, our loyal pass holders,” interim General Manager John McCleod wrote in an email to season pass holders. “Powdr’s investment in this lift underscores a commitment to Mt. Bachelor and provides us a new way to enjoy our favorite mountain.”
The average detachable chairlift has 108 carriers while the average fixed grip lift has 103. Most people would assume the longest lifts have the most carriers but that’s usually not the case. One of the reasons is longer spacing on detachable chairlifts and gondolas. Also many long fixed-grip lifts get designed with lower hourly capacities and bigger spacing to save money. In fact, only one of the top ten lifts with the most chairs is also among the ten longest. Each of the lifts below has more than 200 chairs and, not surprisingly, all but two are fixed-grips.
- Cyclone – Sunrise Park Resort, AZ – 352 Yan triple chairs
- West Mountain – Sugarloaf, ME – 280 Borvig double chairs
- edited to add later: Town – Park City, UT – 264 CTEC triple chairs
- Alpine – Copper Mountain, CA – 218 Yan double chairs
- Porcupine – Snowbasin, UT – 212 Stadeli triple chairs
- Summit – Attitash, NH – 207 CTEC triple chairs
- C-Chair – Breckenridge, CO – 206 Riblet triple chairs
- A-Chair – Breckenridge, CO – 206 Riblet triple chairs
- Snowflake – Breckenridge, CO – 205 Poma double chairs
- Northwest Express – Mt. Bachelor, OR – 204 Doppelmayr quad chairs
- American Flyer – Copper Mountain, CO – 203 Poma quad chairs
What about gondolas? There are a bunch of them that stretch two-plus miles. Even so, no gondolas come close to making this list. The Sunshine Village Gondola has the most cabins in North America with approximately 175 CWA Omegas and the Whistler Village Gondola comes in at number two with 160 Sigma Diamond cabins. The average North American gondola has just 74 cabins.
Now, who can guess which lift has the most towers?
Vertical transport feet per hour (VTFH) is the best way to measure how lifts move people up mountains. VTFH combines hourly capacity and vertical rise into one number, usually measured in millions. Ski Area Management uses this metric each fall when they look at how good of a year it was for the lift-building business.
For a lift to score big it has to have a high hourly capacity (think lots of carriers, high speed) and large vertical rise (think big slope length with many towers.) The Jackson Hole tram has a huge vertical (over 4,000′) but very low capacity so its VTFH is only 2,654,600 – not even in the top 400. The Peak 2 Peak Gondola has a huge capacity but only rises 119 feet for a dismal VTFH of 243,950. There are 49 lifts in the US and Canada that move enough people high enough to achieve a VTFH over five million. Below are the top ten.
1. Revelation Gondola Stage II, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, British Columbia
2007 Leitner-Poma 8-passenger gondola
2,952′ vertical x 2,800 passengers per hour = 8,265,600 VTFH
2. Gold Coast Funitel, Squaw Valley, California
1998 Garaventa CTEC 28-passenger funitel
2,000′ vertical x 4,032 passengers per hour = 8,064,000 VTFH
3. Heavenly Gondola, Heavenly Mountain Resort, California
2000 Doppelmayr 8-passenger gondola
2,874′ vertical x 2,800 passengers per hour = 8,047,200 VTFH
4. Gondola One, Vail Mountain, Colorado
2012 Leitner-Poma 10-passenger gondola
1,996′ vertical x 3,600 passengers per hour = 7,185,600 VTFH
5. Centennial Express, Beaver Creek Resort, Colorado
2014 Doppelmayr 6/10 chondola combination lift
2,102′ vertical x 3,400 passengers per hour = 7,146,800 VTFH