News Roundup: Good Things

Nordic Valley to Debut Six Passenger Lift

The once sleepy ski area in Eden, Utah will grow dramatically this winter with the addition of a high speed lift and new terrain. Leitner-Poma of America will supply the yet-to-be-named six place chair, which will move 2,500 skiers per hour and service approximately 50 acres of terrain the first season.  When completed, the expansion will more than triple skiable terrain with 300 new acres. “The pioneers who started Nordic Valley dreamed of sharing this amazing terrain,” said Brandon Fessler, Nordic Valley general manager. “Our team has worked hard to realize that dream, and we cannot wait to share it with our guests, our friends and our neighbors this winter.” The lift will rise 1,400 vertical feet in just 4.2 minutes with a slope length of 4,213 feet. It will become the first six passenger lift built by Leitner-Poma in Utah.

Fast-growing Mountain Capital Partners took over operations of Nordic Valley in 2018. This expansion project will be located entirely on private property, though more lifts could eventually be added on Forest Service land at higher elevation.

MCP is also partnering with Leitner-Poma to add a base-to-summit Telemix at Arizona Snowbowl this summer.  The two projects combine to form the largest lift investment in North American skiing for the 2020/21 season.  While some resort groups have paused expansion capital due to the pandemic, Mountain Capital Partners and select others continue to forge ahead.

Nordic Valley expects to open the new six passenger lift early this winter, increasing its vertical drop by 65 percent.

News Roundup: Workers

Nordic Valley Seeks to Add a Fourth Chairlift

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Mountain Capital Partners no longer plans to build nine new chairlifts and one of the world’s longest gondolas in Northern Utah but a scaled back expansion of Nordic Valley is moving forward.  The previous vision hinged on use of Forest Service lands and received chilly public reception.

The resort recently applied for a conditional use permit to add a new lift on 347 acres of entirely private land south of the current ski area.  The updated project includes 50 acres of new snowmaking coverage and an approximately 4,400 foot chairlift dubbed Lift 5.  Photos included with the application depict Skytrac lifts, indicating the new lift would be fixed-grip.

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Back in 2018, Mountain Capital Partners forged an agreement to operate Nordic Valley, becoming the firm’s first property in Utah.  MCP specializes in modernizing historically under-capitalized resorts across the Southwest.   “The proposed project will allow for an improved guest experience for the surrounding communities and will compliment and improve the existing ski operations at Nordic Valley,” said the Colorado-based company.  “With the addition of snowmaking, Nordic Valley will be able to minimize the impact of low natural snowfalls and offer a more consistent product to its customers.”

News Roundup: Heating Up

News Roundup: Color Choices

  • Some Alta land is withdrawn from a proposed land swap, maintaining the possibility of future expansion in Grizzly Gulch.
  • Killington goes blue with its bubbles.
  • Vail Resorts officially takes over Stevens Pass.
  • Massachusetts awards the current operators of Blue Hills a new three year contract.
  • Fatzer begins production of the first Compacta rope for the US lift market.  At 54 mm, any guesses where it’s headed?

News Roundup: Gondolas on Gondolas

“Ever since the company went public in 2014 it has taken advantage of its improved access to capital to finance large infrastructure projects that may have led to growth in visitation and revenues, but haven’t resulted in better earnings or cash flows.”

Nordic Valley Envisions Expanding with a 4.3 Mile Gondola

Nordic Valley lies northeast of Salt Lake City, near much larger Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. Photo credit: Ski Utah

The new operator of Utah’s Nordic Valley, Mountain Capital Partners, has high hopes for what is currently the littlest ski resort in Utah.  MCP is the fast-growing Durango, Colorado-based outfit led by James Coleman that now operates six ski resorts in the four corners region.  Less than three years after acquiring Purgatory and Arizona Snowbowl, Mr. Coleman entered into an operating agreement with Nordic Valley’s owners in April.  Now we know one of the reasons why he went to Utah.

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The centerpiece of master plan released this month is a 4.3 mile gondola stretching from North Ogden to a summit elevation of 8,100′ before descending into Nordic Valley’s base area near Eden.  It would be the third longest gondola system in the world and some 6,000 feet longer than anything in the United States today.  “In addition to offering direct-to-resort access in a scenic 12-minute ride, the gondola will also help cut down on canyon traffic and vehicle emissions,” notes the recently-launched nordicvalleyproject.com website.  A similar gondola was once eyed to connect Ogden to Snowbasin and the proposal reminds me in some ways of the successful Silver Mountain Gondola project which transformed Kellogg, Idaho.

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Nordic Valley currently has three fixed grip chairlifts with a vertical rise of 1,110 feet.

Nordic Valley has attempted to expand upward and outward multiple times over its 50 year history but never before had access to the kind of capital needed to undertake what is now mapped.  The plan includes nine new chairlifts surrounding the new gondola, which would likely be built in two sections.  “We’re passionate about the ski industry, and about giving families and individuals the freedom and opportunity to experience the outdoors,” MCP notes.  “With an improved guest experience, the new Nordic Valley will be better positioned to grow the ski industry, compete with other area resorts, and bolster Ogden’s status as a first-rate recreation destination.”

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News Roundup: Timelines

  • The Staten Island Economic Development Corporation secures $212,000 to study the feasibility of a gondola connection to Bayonne, New Jersey.
  • The Forest Service green lights Alta’s big plans for a new Baldy tram, Flora lift, Wildcat detachable and replacement for Sunnyside.
  • The Colony’s master plan now includes two new lifts along Pinecone Ridge at the center of Park City Mountain.
  • Copper is selling parts from the Flyer and the Eagle detachables.  Must act fast!
  • Crested Butte says the three lift Teo 2 expansion, if approved, would likely be built over approximately five years.
  • Snow King’s gondola and terrain expansion public process moves along at a glacial pace.
  • Mountain Capital Partners, the company behind Arizona Snowbowl, Hesperus Pajarito, Purgatory and Sipapu, will operate Nordic Valley and add it to the Power Pass.
  • Doppelmayr breaks ground for its eleventh cable-propelled automated people mover, set to open in 2021.
  • Spokane’s paper traces the history of three lifts that have graced Riverfront Park, including a new gondola.
  • The Forest Service seeks feedback on Arizona Snowbowl’s chondola proposal.
  • An ice storm apparently causes a track rope to jump out of a saddle at Jay Peak, closing the tram and nearby lifts indefinitely.
  • As legal wrangling continues, nothing seems out of the ordinary this week at the Hermitage Club except for notices on the clubhouse doors.