News Roundup: Under the Radar

  • Chinese investment firm acquires a majority stake in Swiss ropeway manufacturer BMF, which also owns Gangloff.
  • Wolf Creek will build a third high-speed quad called Meadow in 2018.
  • Aspen Skiing Company settles with a woman who sued after falling in the loading area of the Village Express.
  • Private operator of Val Bialas Ski Center in New York resigns, citing continued financial losses.  The publicly-owned mountain has a 1973 Borvig.
  • Check out these architectural drawings of Disney World’s Skyliner gondola network.
  • No real news but this recent drone video shows the current state of lifts and why Saddleback is worth saving.
  • The Skytracs in St. Maarten open this week and are expected to draw some 135,000 cruise passengers a year.
  • Here’s a Mt. Spokane expansion construction update.
  • Adanac Ski Hill in Ontario replaced its 1950s Poma double with an Alpen Star quad this summer, bringing Doppelmayr to 15 new lifts for 2017 in North America.
Advertisements

Mt. Spokane Backside Expansion is Finally a Go

EXPANSION-web-Protecting

This one’s a long time coming.  The Washington State Supreme Court this afternoon upheld two lower courts’ decisions to allow Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park to add a sixth chairlift and seven new runs on the northwest side of the mountain, a project first proposed circa 2005.  Ever since then, the nonprofit that operates the ski area has fought the Spokane Tribe, Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Spokane Mountaineers, Conservation Northwest, Native Plant Society, Lands Council and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to move the project forward.  At issue were 279 acres of old growth forest and alpine meadows popular with backcountry skiers that are now poised to become part of the ski area, one of only a handful nationwide located in a state park. The expansion will allow the nonprofit mountain to open more reliable northwest-facing terrain in lean snow years and meet growing demand for outdoor winter recreation in the Inland Northwest.  “This is a very exciting day for every skier in our region,” Mt. Spokane general manager Brad McQuarrie celebrated in a press release. “We can now turn our vision into a reality so that more skiers can enjoy more of the mountain.”

When I visited Mt. Spokane this spring, logging equipment was staged near the summit awaiting the court’s decision.  A double chair removed from Bridger Bowl in 2013 sat in the main parking lot undergoing modifications for its new home.  The Riblet will be called Red Chair for obvious reasons and has upgraded CTEC components including its bottom tension terminal.  “This chairlift has a long and storied history, including ties to the Spokane community from its inception, as Riblet Tramway Company was the original builder of this chairlift based in Spokane,” the mountain’s release noted.  Mt. Spokane’s existing chairlifts will also get new names this fall to replace numbers one through five.

 

Construction begins tomorrow morning and the ropes are expected to drop for the 2018-19 season.

News Roundup: Opponents

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.)

IMG_9529
Chair one at White Pass lives on despite an adjacent high speed quad.

Continue reading