- Doppelmayr wins the contract to build Cablebus Line 3, a six station/40 tower gondola in Mexico City with a bid $19 million under Leitner.
- Steamboat’s new gondola won’t open until mid to late December.
- A falling tree de-ropes the Busch Gardens Williamsburg gondola off multiple towers.
- NSAA reports the number of US ski areas operating last season increased by 11 to 473.
- A brand new chairlift at Ski Wentworth gets battered by wind and falling trees from Hurricane Fiona but is believed to be undamaged.
- Lake Louise says both Upper Juniper and Sunnyside high speed quads could be constructed as early as 2023 (map here).
- A new map shows the location of Vail’s upcoming Chair 17 in Sun Down Bowl.
- Deer Valley’s new map shows where the new Burns Express goes.
- Apex Mountain uses video footage and social media to identify a group who tampered with the resort’s detachable quad.
- The Los Angeles transit authority expects to release the draft Environmental Impact Report for the Dodger Stadium gondola October 17th.
News Roundup: Early August
- A Forest Service report details what Keystone did wrong in Bergman Bowl, the lift will not not be completed this season.
- One Gunstock Area Commissioner resigns, another is removed from office and another appointed. Staff reopened the resort yesterday.
- Forbes interviews Doppelmayr Managing Director Thomas Pichler.
- NSAA launches a lift service bulletin database for members.
- In Argentina, a mechanic dies after his legs become caught in chairlift machinery.
- Apex Mountain Resort is evacuated due to a nearby wildfire.
- Ex Jay Peak owner Ariel Quiros reports to prison.
- Sommet Gabriel’s new Doppelmayr quad will be called La Laurentienne.
- The new triple at Dodge Ridge will be Triple Nugget.
- ORDA awards a $3.2 million contract to Skytrac for construction of the Bear Cub Quad at Gore Mountain.
- Snoqualmie and Doppelmayr conduct a heli mission to scope upcoming International triple construction.
- Vail Resorts completes its acquisition of a majority stake in Swiss ski resort Andermatt-Sedrun.
- Alta opts not to remove Albion until next year.
- Here are some pictures of an Epic Lift Upgrade project on track at Vail Mountain (thanks to reader Mark.)
News Roundup: Best Ever
- The Bud Light Seltzer SkyView gondola at Hard Rock Stadium becomes the Heineken High Line for the Miami Grand Prix.
- A chairlift which rotates between two fairs in California and one in Arizona now also goes to Texas.
- Granite Gorge is scheduled to be sold at a foreclosure auction next month.
- A Swiss paper interviews Roland Bartholet about his company being acquired by HTI. The brand will remain separate from Leitner and Poma, will focus on new products and help the group compete with Doppelmayr Garaventa.
- Indy Pass signs six more resorts as affiliate partners; redemptions totaled 125,000 this season.
- Gore Mountain signs with Leitner-Poma for the North Creek Ski Bowl detachable.
- Doppelmayr proposes a $200 million urban gondola system in Auckland, New Zealand.
- Bottineau Winter Park fundraises for a new T-Bar.
- Friends of the Tulsa Skyride say the only lift in Oklahoma may be removed in the next few weeks.
- The United States sets an all-time skier visit record – 61 million – with 11 more ski areas operating than last season.
- NSAA says offseason capital improvements will also set a record this year at $728 million.
- A big urban 3S opens in France.
- Doppelmayr’s latest Bike Clip carriers will make their North American debut at Loon Mountain.
- Mt. Rose’s first high speed quad will be called the
Tahoe Express. Update: Lakeview Express
- A tram breakdown makes the news in Palm Springs.
News Roundup: RFP
- The European Union will pay French ski operators up to 49 percent of lost revenue from this winter.
- Ober Gatlinburg’s tram closes for two months for track rope and drive replacement projects totaling $4.5 million.
- Bluewood’s general manager explains why fixing a 43 year old lift still makes sense for the mountain vs. buying a new one.
- The Burke Mountain and Jay Peak receiver says in a court filing the mountains are “desperately in need of liquidity” while battling financial services giant Raymond James.
- Whiteface issues a request for proposals to replace the Bear double with a fixed grip quad starting lower in the base area.
- Kelly Canyon’s new Skytrac will be a triple reaching 600 feet beyond the top of Chair 2.
- With one Doppelmayr gondola finished but never opened to the public and another partially complete, Icy Strait Point removes all booking availability until April of 2022.
- Skiland performs a rope evacuation of the northernmost chairlift in the Americas.
- The National Ski Areas Association updates its lift safety fact sheet.
- Mission Ridge isn’t done with On the Way Up just yet! Episode 18 explores the parking system and more.
- At a leadership forum in Park City, Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory says his company will invest $200 million on capital improvements this year and plans to build the Squaw-Alpine gondola.
- We also learned Deer Valley is in talks with Mayflower Mountain Resort about shared access.
- Rusty next joined the Storm Skiing Podcast, confirming the Ikon Pass will add at least one new resort for 21-22.
- Vail Resorts slashes Epic Pass prices by 20 percent.
- Developers say the Moosehead Mountain project is “moving fast” with a lift to be ordered as soon as May for completion late this year.
- Two more days until Snow King’s Summit double stops for good to make way for a gondola, though the Forest Service’s Record of Decision has not been signed and litigation looms.
- Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry confirms it’s investigating last weekend’s chair fall at Camelback but does not expect to make the report public.
US Skier Visits Declined 13.9 Percent Last Season
American ski resorts were on track for their fourth best season in history before coronavirus forced closures, according to data released today by the National Ski Areas Association. Spring traditionally accounts for about 20 percent of total visitation and the shortened season yielded a total of 51.1 million skier days. On the heels of 59.3 million skiers in 2018/19, 2019/20 will go down as the worst season since 2011/12 and second worst since 1991/92.
Despite visitation declining in all six NSAA regions, there is reason for optimism. “To have two years in a row potentially rank in the top five seasons ever shows the strength of the industry,” said NSAA President and CEO Kelly Pawlak, referring to the 2018/19 winter and truncated 2019/20 season. “That being said, it is astounding how quickly this season went from promising to a complete disappointment.” The impact of snowfall, traditionally a major factor in visitation, was difficult to assess this year due to many resorts ending reporting in mid-March.
The Kottke National End of Season Survey also revealed six fewer operational areas in 2019/20 with a total of 470. Each resort was open an average of only 99 days, down from 121 in the 2018/19 season. That means each resort averaged about 108,000 visits. A skier visit is defined as a skiing or snowboarding guest visiting a resort for any part of a day.
The industry group estimates COVID-19 will cost resorts at least $2 billion and as much as $5 billion depending on continued impacts during the 2020/21 season. Within weeks of closing early, many resorts opted to delay capital projects such as new lifts planned for next winter. At least nine major projects were postponed in the month of April. As of today, new lift orders are pacing almost 30 percent below last year.
News Roundup: Ripple Effect
- Saddleback demolishes the Rangeley double to make room for its upcoming high speed quad.
- Debt-laden Ski Granby Ranch lays off all its employees and won’t issue refunds to guests with canceled vacations.
- The $2.2 trillion phase three stimulus package passed by Congress doesn’t include assistance specifically for ski areas but there is hope phase four might.
- Vail Resorts borrows more than $500 million from existing lines of credit in order to increase its cash position and maintain financial flexibility during the outbreak.
- While many Leitner-Poma staffers work from home, a skeleton crew continues production.
- Even in hard-hit Italy, one major lift customer plans to commence construction as soon as the immediate health danger has passed.
- Many Doppelmayr employees are also working from home and production continues in Wolfurt.
- Aspen Snowmass intends to complete all capital projects as planned this summer including the $10.8 million Big Burn chairlift.
- Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz personally donates $2.5 million to mountain community charities and an employee assistance fund.
- Yet another lift project cancelled by Vail Resorts: replacement of Peachtree at Crested Butte this summer.
- NSAA estimates costs from early closings and lost pass sales will exceed $2 billion in the United States and forecasts capital spending will plunge 50 percent this year.
- Magic Mountain’s Geoff Hatheway offers a small ski area perspective on COVID-19.
- Coronavirus may impact the review timeline for Snow King Mountain’s proposed expansion and other projects on Forest Service lands.
- Katharina Schmitz officially takes the reigns of Doppelmayr USA from Mark Bee, who retired on March 31st.
- Boyne Resorts estimates $22 million in lost revenue as a result of this winter’s abrupt end.
- The Vietnamese developer behind both the world’s longest and tallest 3S gondolas plans another island-hopping 3S in the country’s north.
News Roundup: More Towers
- MND Group subsidiary LST will build its third US ropeway this summer, a T-Bar replacing this Hall one in McCall, Idaho.
- Copper confirms the new American Flyer will get more towers to “support and optimize” the lift.
- This incredible timelapse of the longest lift in the world gets a lot of attention on Reddit.
- US skiers and snowboarders came out 59.1 million times this season, a nearly 11 percent increase over 2017-18 and the fourth best participation ever.
- The National Ski Areas Association launches a charitable foundation to grant money to resort employees to attend conferences such as LMS and RMLA.
- West Virginia’s closed Timberline Four Seasons Resort files for bankruptcy.
- A Vermont sheriff can no longer find Hermitage Club founder Jim Barnes to serve him with legal papers related to the ski resort’s closure.
- In Serbia, Poma will realize the longest gondola in the world at 5.6 miles in two sections.
- The year round, high speed quad-served bike park experiment in New Zealand gets a $3.3 million government bailout to keep operating.
- If you want a retired Steamboat Gondola cabin, Sunshine Polishing is acquiring 105 of them.
- Bogus Basin’s old Riblet chairs are selling for an average price of $1,775 apiece.
News Roundup: Study
- 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.
News Roundup: Photos
- Bear Valley seeks a name for its new six-pack.
- While we wait for D-Line to come to North America, check out this one going up in Austria.
- Fly day photos from Pats Peak show major Skytrac upgrades to Ascutney’s old Snowdance triple.
- I was asked by ANSI to link to the new B77.1-2017 Standard for Passenger Ropeways, which replaces the 2011 version.
- See how Sun Valley swaps a haul rope.
- Connecticut’s Woodbury Ski Area, with one 1976 Hall double, is for sale.
- As NSAA weighs its future again, industry leaders chime in anonymously on aging lifts and more.
- Proposed Steamboat budget includes $3.78 million to replace the Burrows chairlift at Howelsen Hill with a fixed-grip quad in 2019.
- Powder and others spread headlines that Colorado resorts are adding more roller coasters than chairlifts this season. However they missed Copper Mountain’s new high-speed quad and counted Vail Resorts’ four new detachables separately from Colorado Ski Country USA. The state as a whole is actually adding its most new lifts since 2013 (six) and fewer mountain coasters (four.)