Replacing a fixed-grip quad with another fixed-grip quad might not seem like much of a change, but Mt. Baker took a significant step forward this summer building an all-new Chair 7 with loads of upgrades. The only lift out of the White Salmon base area is now a Skytrac, the first for this Pacific Northwest favorite with seven fixed-grip quads.
The Riblet Chair 7 opened in 1990 to serve an eastward expansion along with Chair 8 in 1992. The last of Baker’s seven Riblets went in for the 2001-02, the second to last Riblet lift built anywhere in the world. Beginning the following year, a series of four Doppelmayr CTEC quad chairs replaced lifts 1, 3, 5 and 6. All of these lifts were powered directly with diesel engines.
Mt. Baker Ski Area’s new Chair 7 is the first on the mountain with an electric prime mover.
What if you could build two lifts for the price of one longer lift? A handful of ski areas have done it with “up and over” lifts. With this setup, riders load at each end and unload at a ridgetop mid-station. There are obvious cost advantages but also limited locations where such a lift makes sense. Due to multiple load/unload areas more stops and slows can occur. Another disadvantage is that the entire system has to run even if only one side is open. Most up and over lifts are located in the Pacific Northwest.
Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort built a CTEC up and over quad in 1995 to replace two lifts. Skiers who load Ray’s Lift in the main village can unload at the Mont Mountain summit or continue down the other side to the base of the Arrowhead lift. Guests can also load at this end to ride back up to the mid-station. Ray’s lift is a beast – depending on the season it has eight different load/unload points, five lift shacks with controls and 33 towers.
Stevens Pass considers its Double Diamond/Southern Cross system as two separate lifts. Skiers load at both ends and unload on two ramps at the summit which are monitored by one operator. The front side portion, called Double Diamond, is short and steep while the rest of the lift is on the Mill Valley side and dubbed Southern Cross. This system was also built by CTEC in 1987. The combined lift is 5,700 feet long and moves 1,200 people per hour up each side.
Perhaps the most famous of the up and over lifts is the Dinosaur at Snoqualmie’s Hyak. It was built by Murray-Latta in 1965. Over 5,000 feet long, it started at the base of Hyak, crossed the summit and continued down into Hidden Valley. This one lift accessed 100% of the resort’s terrain on both sides of Mt. Hyak. The lift had a rollback in 1971 that injured dozens of skiers. The Dinosaur continued to run until 1988. When it closed, large portions of Hyak became abandoned. The Dinosaur sat idle until was removed in 2009 and replaced with two used Riblet lifts, a triple on the front side and a double in Hidden Valley.