- Beaver Creek relocates an entire Birds of Prey Express tower, foundation and all, eight inches due to ground movement.
- Someone made off with a chair from Aspen’s Bell Mountain lift. After a public plea from SkiCo, it returns within hours.
- Franklin County, Maine wants an electric utility to contribute $100,000 to support Saddleback redevelopment as part of a mitigation package for a $950 million power line project.
- Cockaigne, NY will open this winter for the first time in seven following an investment of $6.2 million, demonstrating it takes a boatload of cash to reopen a lapsed ski resort.
- The always awesome French lift website Remontées Mécaniques reports on two remarkable new lifts in Asia: the Fansipan Legend 3S and Wynn Palace Skycab.
- Two late additions to the 2018 new lift roster: Boreal, California and Vallée du Parc, Quebec, which are both adding Doppelmayr fixed quads this fall.
- La Paz subway in the sky gondolas number 15 and 16 open September 26th.
- An intriguing podcast claims more Disney Skyliner lines are envisioned to Disney Springs, Blizzard Beach, Animal Kingdom Lodge, All Star Resort and Coronado Springs.
- Anyone recognize this skyride at the New Mexico State Fair? It had to come from somewhere.
- Pre-Vail Whistler Blackcomb COO and father of Peak 2 Peak Dave Brownlie is tapped to lead the next chapter at Revelstoke.
Four American ski resorts will launch major terrain expansions next winter and I got to check out one of them this weekend in Washington State. New west facing trails at Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park will be serviced by a new Skytrac triple chair topping out at 5,850′. The nonprofit that runs the resort initially planned to use Bridger Bowl’s retired Alpine lift but wisely axed that plan last winter and solicited bids for a brand new machine. At this area once owned by Riblet Tramway Company itself, the last new lift was a double chair that opened back in 1977. Mt. Spokane’s Chair 1 dates even further to 1956, making it the oldest operating chairlift in the country. With five Riblet doubles still spinning, a modern galvanized triple is sure to stand out along with the new runs.
A growing demand for skiing has led to many new lifts at competing resorts in the Selkirk Mountains during the 14 years it took for Mt. Spokane’s expansion to be approved. In the nearby Idaho panhandle, Schweitzer Mountain Resort plans to build two new lifts on its backside next summer, Lookout Pass is eyeing another two and so is 49 Degrees North in northeast Washington. Just across the Canadian border, Spokane favorite Red Mountain hopes to complete the Topping Creek T-Bar this fall.
- Berkshire Bank seeks to foreclose on the Hermitage Club, saying the private ski area owes $16.6 million on $17.1 million in loans taken out between 2014 and 2017.
- Hunter Mountain apologizes to season pass holders and explains in detail why two of its lifts went down for much of Presidents’ Week.
- Mt. Snow’s Bluebird Express is down with a damaged gearbox.
- Similar story for Cypress Mountain’s Lions Express, which reopened on Tuesday.
- Harmony at Whistler also went down for much of last week..
- Big Sky’s Six Shooter was rope evacuated last week, sparking an interesting conversation about why that lift turns a few degrees.
- HeliOps profiles Brian Jorgenson of Timberline Helicopters, who explains why even at $1.50 per second, the UH-60 Black Hawk has become the gold standard for western ski lift missions.
- The largest urban gondola system in North America will open this May in Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic.
- Boston’s proposed Seaport gondola has a new route.
- A conference center in Wisconsin called Forest Springs plans to expand its ski area with a new chairlift.
- Silver Star’s new gondola is on track for a rare July opening with the top terminal and all foundations complete.
- SAM reports almost all of North America’s ski industry had a difficult Christmas but things are improving.
- Pictures of a severed gondola cable from a Chamonix storm are incredible (reminder: the lift was not operating.)
- Through January 8th, Vail Resorts skier visits are pacing 10.8 percent below last season and non-Vail-owned Colorado resorts are down 13 percent.
- Gunstock rope evacuates 27 guests from the Silver Medal lift.
- A federal judge dismisses a lawsuit filed by a woman who broke her femur unloading the Discovery lift at Keystone.
- Colorado sides with Winter Park and rules that service dogs don’t necessarily belong on chairlifts.
- SAM‘s inaugural Summit Series piece brings together industry heavy-hitters and future leaders and not surprisingly, the first two stories quoted involve lifts!
- USFS and Doppelmayr veteran Michael Lane will succeed Sid Roslund as NSAA’s Director of Technical Services.
- Electrical fire damages Oakland Zoo’s skyride.
- A wall of mud partially buries the new Lightning Express at Marble Mountain.
- The Forest Service accepts Aspen Mountain’s master plan update including the construction of a Pandora detachble quad, removal of Gent’s Ridge and shortening of Bell Mountain. 1A study continues.
- The end is in sight for a significant midwinter repair to Fernie’s White Pass quad.
- Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board releases its investigation report on the carpet entanglement death of Loveland mechanic Adam Lee.
- Winter Park calls response to digital restraining bar displays “amazingly positive” and they may be deployed on other lifts and at more Alterra resorts.
- Mt. Spokane wisely opts to use the Riblet it purchased from Bridger Bowl for spare parts and is now soliciting bids for a brand new triple chair for this summer’s expansion.
- 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.
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.
- Jay Peak and Garaventa begin major tram overhaul.
- More positive press for Powder Seeker at Big Sky.
- There’s a new gondola idea for Mt. Benson in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, BC.
- Sky Lift update points to late-April reopening.
- Austin Wire won’t move forward.
- Stratton might replace the Snow Bowl quad.
- Critics file complaint against Belleayre expansion and gondola.
- Ski Blandford faces worsening financial situation with three aging Hall doubles.
- Squirrel kills power to three lifts at Eaglecrest.
- Unofficial Networks profiles outrageous gondolas.
- British Columbia approves Valemount Glacier with opening targeted for Christmas 2018.
- Town of Breckenridge study concludes gondola could cost $800-1000 an hour to operate with stations costing $2 million to build.
- Cabin to tour Staten Island in hopes of drumming up support for gondola.
- Bridger Bowl celebrates the end of an era with a center pole chair photo contest.
- Mt. Spokane expansion and new chairlift approved yet again.
- LST Ropeways’ first detachable opens in La Plagne.
- Fourteen years since construction started, Magic Mountain may finally finish Green lift.
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?’
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.)