- The Seattle Times runs a feature story on Vail Resorts’ operational challenges at Stevens Pass compared with Alterra at Crystal Mountain.
- Ridgeline Executive Group will continue running Granby Ranch following the sale to a new ownership group.
- The unique triangle gondola at Sterling Vineyards remains closed seven months after a wildfire with no estimate for reopening.
- Big Snow renames its quad chair in honor of General Manager Jim Haas and others who died of Covid-19.
- Two employees of the Georgian ski resort where a lift rolled back in 2018 have been charged criminally and face up to five years in prison.
- Visits to New York’s three state-owned ski areas were up 14 percent to 672,000 with revenue up 10 percent and expenses down 8 percent.
- Whiteface will replace the Bear and Mixing Bowl lifts with a $2.5 million Skytrac quad.
- Powder Mountain, Mt. Ashland and West Mountain join the Indy Pass, which topped 96,000 redemptions this season.
- Cherry Peak, Eagle Point, Red River and Snow Valley sign on to the Freedom Pass alliance, Toggenburg leaves.
- Another fire threatens Ski Apache, which is so far unscathed.
- We now know why the Mighty Argo Cable Car project is stalled. Owners have sued lenders, alleging breach of contract and a $4.5 million loss.
- The Routt National Forest approves Steamboat’s Wild Blue Gondola and Sundown Express replacement projects, subject to a customary objection period.
- Japan’s first urban gondola opens.
- Mi Teleferico celebrates seven years as La Paz’s urban gondola system, providing 328 million rides.
- Loon Mountain confirms the former Kancamagus detachable quad will replace Seven Brothers in 2022.
- Loveland closes Lift 8 for the season due to a mechanical issue.
- The only jigback tramway in Texas could make a return.
- Holiday Valley posts tons of photos of its latest lift replacement project.
- The first gondola components arrive in Squaw Valley.
- The Mountain Collective adds four awesome resorts for 2020-21: Chamonix, Grand Targhee, Panorama and Sugarloaf.
- Kicking Horse celebrates 20 years of operation on the site of the former Whitetooth Ski Area.
- Sun Valley’s Cold Springs double is about to end a 50 year run but will live on at a resort in California.
- Arizona Snowbowl’s Agassiz reopens for one last hurrah after being down since January 18th with a gear issue.
- Hundreds of ski resorts in Austria, Italy and Switzerland are forced to close for the season due to coronavirus.
- Berkshire East, Catamount, Middlebury Snow Bowl and Mt. Abram become the first US ski resorts to shut down due to the virus.
- Belleayre, Gore, Whiteface and the Lake Placid Olympic Complex close gondolas for the season for the same reason. Snowbird’s tram is shut down until further notice. Aspen Snowmass will no longer load unrelated parties in the same gondola cabins.
- Indiana Beach, one of only four venues with an aerial lift in the Hoosier State, closes permanently.
- The two year old LST Ropeways detachable in France shuts down indefinitely again. Instead of the LST design, MND America will offer Bartholet detachables in the United States.
- Vail Resorts reports financial results: skier visits are down 5.3 percent percent this season through March 1st but lift revenue is up 0.8 percent. On a conference call, CEO Rob Katz addresses coronavirus, lift lines at Vail and possible future acquisitions.
- Timberline Mountain promises to make multiple big announcements at a media event Tuesday. All three existing lifts are in poor condition and being dismantled.
- Arctaris Impact Fund doesn’t expect to realize a profit on its Saddleback investment until it sells the resort in 7-10 years.
- An enterprising family is building the first Australian-designed and manufactured chairlift in 30 years for private use only.
- Alterra Mountain Company CEO Rusty Gregory will deliver a keynote address on Monday in Park City covering the rise of Alterra, industry consolidation and multi-resort pass products.
- For the second time in three weeks, a sudden stop on the Mont-Sainte-Anne gondola elicits an emergency response and the lift is once again closed indefinitely.
New York’s state-owned Olympic Regional Development Authority plans to spend a whopping $147 million to upgrade its facilities during 2020 and 2021. Those venues include Belleayre, Gore Mountain, the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex and Whiteface, which together saw three new lifts over the last three years. On Friday, the agency issued a formal request for proposal for three more fixed-grip quad chairlifts to be built over two years.
This summer, both Gore and Whiteface would see new lifts replacing Riblet models. Gore proposes replacing the Sunway double with a fixed quad capable of moving 2,400 guests per hour. The previous lift dates back to 1986. The new alignment would end slightly higher than the current lift, with a 566 foot vertical rise and 3,102 foot slope length. This machine would be bottom drive, bottom tension with a loading carpet.
Also in 2020, Whiteface plans to replace the Bunny Hutch triple with a quad. The current lift opened in 1997 with used Riblet equipment. The new lift would be about 450 feet longer with a vertical rise of 364 feet. This quad would also be bottom drive/bottom tension and may include a loading conveyor.
Following in 2021, Gore would see a replacement for the High Peaks double. The existing lift is a quirky Riblet-CTEC hybrid that experiences long lines during peak times. The new lift would be a bottom drive fixed-grip quad with a design capacity of 2,400 skiers per hour.
No new lifts are planned for Belleayre, understandable considering the Catskills mountain got two of the last three projects. There’s no guarantee ORDA will follow through on these specific plans but the RFP gives us a pretty good idea of the authority’s wish list. Potential suppliers have until March 5th to bid and, if funded and approved, construction would be complete by November 15th of 2020 and 2021.
- Neighbors aren’t happy about light and noise from Woodward Park City, though the new area was able to turn down the start alarm on the Hot Laps chairlift.
- Mt. Baldy in Thunder Bay, Ontario plans to buy a new quad chair for next season.
- The City of Durango considers whether building a new chairlift at Chapman Hill makes sense at an increasingly marginal elevation for natural snow.
- Spout Springs will remain closed this season and is still for sale.
- Mexico City begins work on Cablebús Line 2, a Leitner system with 7 stations, 308 cabins and 59 towers. (Line 1 is Doppelmayr and already under construction.)
- Seven people are injured and a gas station destroyed when a gondola haul rope being installed in Medellín, Colombia lets loose.
- Alterra closes on Sugarbush and Win Smith transitions from owner to employee.
- A French paraglider is lucky to survive being caught in a platter lift‘s haul rope.
- To address crowding concerns, Crystal Mountain eliminates walk up lift ticket sales on weekends and holidays, effective immediately. The resort will also no longer offer group discounts, gift card ticket redemptions or rental/ticket packages on weekends and holidays.
- New York State opens its newest gondola in Lake Placid, called the SkyRide.
- Geyser Holdings offers $4 million for the Hermitage Club and Boyne Resorts separately bids $3.6 million for the Barnstormer lift. An auction could be held next month.
- Skytrac’s Hilltrac people movers now feature Sigma cabins.
- Montana Snowbowl opens its Snow Park expansion for the first time.
- The owners of Perfect North Slopes plan to build at least one new top-to-bottom lift at newly-acquired Timberline, West Virginia this summer.
- The State of Maine postpones a decision on a loan guarantee related to the sale of Saddleback Mountain.
- A creditor claiming to be owed $62 million files to foreclose on Granby Ranch.
- Edmonton urban gondola backers release robust ridership projections.
- A gondola from Boise to Bogus Basin would be too long and cost too much to be practical.
Only a handful of ski mountains in the United States are government owned and operated. The largest public ski outfit by far is New York’s Olympic Regional Development Authority, which runs Belleayre, Gore Mountain, Whiteface and the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex at Lake Placid. All but one of these properties are likely to see new lifts in 2019. Because the mountains are funded in part by taxpayers, potential lift projects are subject to competitive procurement. Over the last month, the Authority has opened requests for proposals for a new high speed quad at Gore Mountain, a quad chair at Whiteface and a surprise gondola at the ski jump.
Back on September 17th, ORDA opened bidding for a chairlift replacement project at Gore Mountain. “Gore Mountain Ski Resort will be replacing their existing triple chair lift with a high speed detachable quad chair lift,” notes the New York State Contract Reporter. “This would be a turnkey project where the winning bidder would provide all materials, labor and equipment to build and install the lift.” This is almost certainly the approved upgrade of Hudson, a 2010 Partek build. Bids were due last Tuesday and the term is 12 months. Leitner-Poma of America built the last three detachable lifts at Gore, so I’d argue it is their contract to lose.
Next up is an RFP for a new Bear Den quad at Whiteface, the largest ski mountain in the east by vertical. The current Riblet triple in the Bear Den base area will become one of many late model Riblet lifts to be replaced recently. I assume this one will be fixed grip but the contract reporter website does not specify. Bids are due on Monday, November 26th. Doppelmayr would seem to have the edge at Whiteface, having built the mountain’s three newest lifts.
- Vail Resorts net income rises 41.5% over last year’s third quarter with Epic season pass sales up 12 percent in units and 19 percent in dollars through May 29th.
- The new Lift One will likely be put to Aspen voters in a winter 2019 special election rather than the November general election.
- The Western Idaho State Fair plans to debut a chairlift for the first time in August – apparently a used Riblet of unknown origin.
- An urban gondola proposal in Ogden, Utah is back.
- A great writeup about Heron’s early days answers why Aspen Skiing Company switched from Colorado’s homegrown lift company to Riblet.
- Now’s your chance to enter to win one of Arapahoe Basin’s retired Norway chairs.
- Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and the Sierra Club sign an agreement for the resort to abandon California Express Alternative 2 in exchange for the group withholding legal action against alternatives 3 and 4.
- The Seattle suburb of Kirkland looks to a possible aerial lift to connect its city center with an upcoming bus rapid transit station.
- Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and Whistler Blackcomb COO Pete Sonntag do a wide ranging interview with the local newspaper after a challenging year and a half.
- Tower 6 of Howelsen Hill’s chairlift is on the move for at least the third time as city leaders grapple with whether to fix it.
- Beartooth Basin, the only summer ski resort in the United States, opens for the season as everyone else closes. An experiment is also underway to run the lifts with biodiesel.
- The Olympic Regional Development Authority proposes a new chairlift for its Lake Placid ski jumping venue.
- Another Borvig surface lift bites the dust in favor of carpets.
- Berkshire Bank says the Hermitage Club no longer has the right to restructure and argues receivership should proceed. One Hermitage property is scheduled to be auctioned on June 25th.
- A decision not to create an opportunity zone in Rangeley, Maine becomes yet another reason Saddleback is going nowhere fast.
- The man accused of lying about spending a night on a Gore Mountain chairlift says he is innocent and may sue the State of New York.
- Move over Epic Pass, Alterra is launching the Ikon Pass.
- Granby Ranch is officially listed for sale.
- Aspen CEO Mike Kaplan says snow challenges bring out the best in people.
- Think your area is busy on a Saturday? The urban gondola network in La Paz sets a new one day record: 278,621 riders!
- New York Governor calls previously announced state fair gondola “an exciting idea” but withholds funding for now.
- More stories surface of the Hermitage Club owing people money.
- Skier records volcano erupting from a Doppelmayr detachable in Japan. One person was killed and a gondola damaged by rockfall.
- ORDA, the state owner of Belleayre, Gore Mountain and Whiteface, lost $20.8 million last year.
- Powder catches up with Alterra President and COO David Perry, who stresses the company will do things differently than Vail.
- Public comment period opens for Mt. Rose’s Atoma expansion, which would include construction of one or two new chairlifts as early as 2019.
- The draft environmental impact statement is also out for Steamboat’s expansion, to include a second gondola, Rough Rider chairlift, new Bashor lift and Pioneer Ridge pod with groundbreaking possible by May.
- Lake Louise and Nakiska are probable venues for a possible 2026 Calgary Olympics. Denver, Reno-Tahoe and Salt Lake also weigh bids.
- Just upgrading electric infrastructure for Disney’s Skyliner gondola system will cost $3.8 million, around the total price tag of a typical ski lift project!
- For the first time since I started keeping track, 2018 new lifts are pacing behind 2017.
Whiteface is the largest resort in the East by vertical and played host to the 1980 Olympic Downhill. The New York State-owned Olympic Regional Development Authority continues to operate Whiteface along with nearby Gore Mountain and Belleayre in the Catskills. This week, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed an impressive $62.5 million for capital improvements at ORDA facilities for 2018-19. While the budget proposal is not yet law and does not identify specific items, it is likely to fund projects from Whiteface and Gore‘s management plans which, probably not coincidentally, were updated this month to include up to ten new lifts.
The biggest project in Whiteface’s future is the replacement of the Freeway double (a 1978 Hall) in a completely new and much longer alignment. A new high-speed quad would start at in the base area and cross over the Little Whiteface double-double, topping out on the Upper Mackenzie trail. Two new trails would be cut from the top, making this lift ideal for intermediate skiers and riders. A second project would replace the 1984 VonRoll double named Bear with a fixed-grip quad. An offload opportunity would be included near the current top terminal and the new lift would continue to the Mid-station lodge area parallel with the Face Lift detachable quad.
Significant improvements are planned for the Bear Den beginner complex. A relocated Riblet double-turned-triple currently services this zone and would be replaced with a fixed-grip quad. “The new quad and magic carpet at Bear Den will serve the extensive trail work we are planning in that area,” Whiteface General Manager Aaron Kellett tells NY Ski Blog. “We want to extend the lift top terminal higher to create better flow in and out of the area.” Last year, Whiteface proposed a new lift from Bear Den all the way to the Mid-station but that plan has morphed into a conceptual transfer lift between the two base areas. A second transfer lift (think gondola, pulse gondola or cabriolet) could link the main parking lot to the base lodge.