- Just in time for summer, the Sea to Sky Gondola welcomes ten more cabins to the line, increasing capacity by 50 percent.
- The Idaho Springs, Colorado city council may vote Monday on rezoning for a proposed 17 tower, 27 cabin gondola lift.
- Hermitage Club founder Jim Barnes explains his reorganization plan but for now, a receiver remains in place.
- Snowshoe is purportedly planning to replace Powder Monkey with a fixed grip quad next summer.
- Although it doesn’t build lifts in the United States, Bartholet has built some very slick machines lately.
- The Indy Pass grows to 28 resorts.
- A rocket from Syria damages a ski lift at Israel’s Mt. Hermon, where a Leitner gondola is also currently under construction.
- Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz launches a podcast with a great first episode about the Park City acquisition.
- The City of Steamboat is still weighing options for bringing in a private operator and/or replacing Barrows at Howelsen Hill.
- California Express notches another approval but litigation could be coming.
- Vail Resorts reports a great quarter: skier visits up 14.3 percent and lift revenue up 16.4 percent with season pass sales for next year trending up 9 percent and 13 percent in units and dollars. “We are still absolutely aggressive on looking for additional resorts that we think add to our network and make the experience that we provide our guests better,” says Rob Katz on the quarterly conference call.
- Quebec tallied 4.6 million skier visits last winter, a ten year high for a province with three new chairlifts already under construction for next year.
- New Hampshire resorts logged 100,000 more skier days than 2017-18.
- Colorado is king with 13.1 million estimated skier visits, a new record.
- This was supposed to be the summer the town of Grafton, Illinois celebrated a new gondola. Instead, 2019 will be remembered for the flooding that has thrown a wrench in its construction.
- Teo II is approved but has no timeline for construction yet.
Vail Resorts will continue its commitment to new infrastructure at Park City Mountain this off-season with the installation of a new fixed-grip quad, the company revealed today. Dubbed “Over and Out,” the lift will connect a spot near the bottom of the Tombstone six pack with the top of the Sunrise double, giving skiers and snowboarders a much-needed egress route from the heart of the mountain and the popular Quicksilver Gondola. Ride time will be approximately five minutes.
This will be the fifth new lift for Vail since buying Park City five years ago. “Since combining Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort in 2015, our focus has been on enhancing the guest experience,” said Bill Rock, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Park City Mountain in a statement. “We continue to evolve as a resort and prioritize our capital improvements based on guest feedback. We know that time is particularly valuable to our guests and the new lift will offer a faster and more convenient route to return to Canyons Village.” Construction is expected be complete by December, pending permitting.
The latest project news comes a few months after Vail’s commitments to build new lifts at Crested Butte and Stevens Pass for next winter along with a planned T-Bar on Vail Mountain. Park City’s lift manufacturer was not revealed and it’s possible Over and Out will be a re-engineered High Meadow. That 1997 CTEC Sprint model quad was removed a year ago to make way for the High Meadow Express.
Update 5/24: I’ve confirmed with Park City that Over and Out will be a brand new Skytrac Monarch.
- Attitash’s Summit triple is down indefinitely again, this time with a gearbox issue. Peak Resorts executives say even if they wanted to replace the lift with a detachable, there is about a two year wait with both lift companies.
- Northstar California partially evacuates the Promised Land Express by rope on a busy Sunday.
- The new master plan for Timberline Lodge prescribes replacing Pucci with a detachable quad and Bruno’s with a series of carpets.
- At Pajarito, Townsight will end up missing the entire season due to unspecified mechanical issues.
- Alyeska retires its last of seven Riblet double chairlifts, Tanaka.
- A six year old falls 29 feet from an Eldora chairlift after failing to load properly and a petition is asking for policy changes.
- The founder of The Hermitage Club is contesting a no trespass order.
- A child falls from Park City’s Silverlode Express.
- Architectural Digest profiles leading resort design firm SE Group.
- Leitner will build what is sure to become an iconic 3S gondola between Switzerland and Italy from 2021.
- 2019/20 Ikon Passes go on sale March 5th and are virtually unchanged from this season’s versions.
- Tuesday is also the day you should vote if you live in Aspen.
- Timberline, West Virginia throws in the towel and the local paper has an update on the the circumstances.
- A night evacuation takes place at Ski Vorlage.
- James Coleman’s brand new bike park is already a hit.
- Five teenagers perform a flawless catch of a Screaming Eagle lift dangler and earn free Grouse Mountain season passes.
- Somehow a sit skier and lift operator both fall 17 feet from Snowmass’ Elk Camp quad on Tuesday.
- Following a brutal 16 day road closure, Snow Valley eyes a Saturday reopening.
- Bloomberg Businessweek visits the Vail/Alterra HQs and catches up with partners like Boyne Resorts and Telluride.
- Australia’s Financial Review reports Vail Resorts will acquire Falls Creek and Mt. Hotham from Merlin Entertainments for about $85 million USD.
- With its purchase of Deer Valley, Alterra Mountain Company now owns about half the land under Park City’s Jupiter chair.
- Gore Mountain evacuates the Northwoods Gondola by rope.
- Salt Lake City is selected to bid for another Winter Olympics.
- Telluride CEO Bill Jensen joins CNBC’s Squawk Box to discuss the economics behind the Epic and Ikon passes.
- The top shack of Anthony Lakes’ only chairlift blows over just before planned opening day.
- The Adventure Group of Whistler proposes building a 9,000′ gondola on Oahu. Hawaii is one of only five U.S. states currently without an aerial lift.
- Mt. Spokane grows by 279 acres with seven new runs and a Skytrac named Northwood.
- Europe’s new highest ropeway is also the pinnacle of industrial design.
- The Hunter North expansion and shiny Northern Express six place chairlift launch Christmas Eve.
- Days before the second DirectDrive detachable is set to open at Copper, Jon Mauch of Leitner-Poma answers questions about the new lifts.
- In France, La Plagne announces an indefinite closure of the first French-manufactured LST detachable due to technical problems.
- Cherry Peak is set to open a third chairlift this season after three years of construction.
- Shuttered Mt. Timothy, BC is purchased by investors who plan to reopen it.
- Vail Resorts-operated Mt. Sunapee is approved to expand into West Bowl.
- The Zugspitze Cable Car reopens today with a new cabin exactly 100 days after this accident.
- Bromont inaugurates North America’s eighth combination chair/gondola lift, L’Express du Village, Sunday morning.
- Check out these photos of the Snowbowl Express build and sweet new color scheme at Stratton.
Utah ski resorts are proving this season that lifts need not be giant to positively impact guest experiences. I got to visit the state’s three newest chairlifts this week, which are all short but sweet with beginner skiers in mind.
High Meadow Express – Park City Mountain
The High Meadow Express is the centerpiece of re-imagined teaching terrain above Park City’s Canyons Village. With mellow loading and unloading speeds, a quick ride time and an improved alignment, the high speed quad marks a significant step up from the fixed quad it replaces. High Meadow Park is now wide open with perfectly pitched beginner trails. Expanded snowmaking rounds out the freshened up beginner zone.
Homestake Express – Deer Valley Resort
Homestake Express launched this morning at Alterra-owned Deer Valley, becoming the resort’s 13th detachable quad. Ride time is now under two minutes between Silver Lake Lodge and Bald Eagle Mountain. There are only eight towers now, down from 12, freeing up space on the busy Silver Link ski run. The new Homestake also features slatted backrests for wind resistance.
Snowpine – Alta Ski Area
In Little Cottonwood Canyon, the new Snowpine Quad carried its first skiers yesterday. The Skytrac Monarch was manufactured just 30 miles away in Salt Lake. While it only has two towers and a dozen chairs, the new lift serves dual functions. It will provide ski-in, ski-out access to the new Snowpine Lodge, which opens January 30th. Alta’s first fixed grip quad also provides a beginner-friendly alternative to the surface tow it replaces. The return terminal is height adjustable for the big snow years.
With four recent additions, Vail Resorts Inc. now operates just over 10 percent of American and Canadian lifts, more than any other company. Vail prides itself on investing heavily in its mountains and the average lift at an Epic resort is three years newer than the rest of the industry. The company’s lifts now number 305 in the United States, Canada and Australia with an average age of 24.6 years. If we assume the average lift lasts 35 years, Vail would now need to replace an average of about nine lifts per year just to turn over its fleet.
A little less than a year ago, a smaller VR unveiled plans for seven new lifts as part of a $150 million annual capital plan, the largest in the company’s history. Back in 2016, Vail committed to building three six-packs as part of $103 million in capital spending for 2017 (VR later added a fourth detachable to that year’s class, the Red Buffalo Express at Beaver Creek.) In December 2015, the Broomfield-based company announced a high-speed quad for Vail Mountain and in 2014, it was $50 million in improvements including three new lifts at Park City plus another six pack at Vail. Over the last five years, more resorts have consistently led to more revenue and more capital investments. The company said it will invest $35 million at the four new mountains in the next two years, making it possible this December’s announcement will be the most valuable ever.
Going resort by resort, the most obvious projects are ones already in the pipeline, namely the Game Creek Express #7 replacement and Golden Peak race lift at Vail. But VR could go bigger like it did this summer at Whistler Blackcomb, spending $52 million to package four lift replacements together. On Vail Mountain, additional aging lifts likely to be up-gauged to six-packs eventually are Orient Express #21, Born Free Express #8 and Wildwood Express #3. The mothership mountain has the third largest and third newest lift fleet in the company and I expect investment to continue at Vail following this year’s pause.
On average, the newest lifts within Vail Resorts are at Beaver Creek, which opened decades later than its peers. A major expansion was approved in September – McCoy Park – which may be implemented in 2020. In advance of those two new lifts, the Strawberry Park Express could be updated in 2019 to a higher capacity gondola. The oldest lift at Beaver Creek is the 1988 Arrow Bahn Express, which eventually will be replaced by a newer detachable. Probably not this year though.
Sticking in Colorado, Breckenridge is usually the first or second most visited resort in America and did not see a new lift in 2018. I say a Riblet gets replaced here in 2019 and my vote would be 6-Chair with a high speed quad. My second guess would be C-Chair followed by 5, A, E and Rip’s Ride. If Vail decides to continue replacing older high speed quads instead, Beaver Run SuperChair is the logical candidate.
Keystone has both expansion possibilities and lifts that could be upgraded. The project everyone’s been clamoring for is a detachable lift from The Outback to replace Wayback. Peru Express is the oldest high speed lift at Keystone and a core workhorse, making it likely to be replaced with a six pack soon. Outback Express is one year newer and in a similar situation. Another possible replacement is Argentine, a 1977 Lift Engineering double that the 2009 Keystone Master Development Plan proposed replacing with a two stage detachable. The new lift would load near Peru, have an angle station above Lower Schoolmarm and continue all the way to the ridge of Dercum Mountain. The Keystone MDP also outlines major expansions that I expect we will hear more about over the next decade. They include a Ski Tip gondola, Bergman Bowl lift, Independence Bowl lift, Windows lift and Outback surface lift. Whatever Vail chooses, I am hopeful for a new lift or two at Keystone in 2019.
Crested Butte is the new kid on the block and Vail may wait a year or more to do anything lift wise. The mountain’s Teocalli II expansion is still moving through the Forest Service NEPA process. The Mueller family invested heavily in the Triple Peaks resorts over the years and I don’t see a whole lot needed near-term at CBMR. Replacing original Teocalli with a high speed quad would be a nice way to burn some of the promised $35 million.
Utah ski resorts will debut three new chairlifts for the 2018-19 season and although none of them service new terrain, each will make lives better for skiers and snowboarders. One of my stops this weekend was Park City Mountain, where Vail Resorts announced the creation of a reimagined High Meadow Family Fun Zone back in December. A new Doppelmayr detachable quad, opened up runs, upgraded snowmaking and candy cabin are coming together above the Red Pine Gondola. The new lift will have 8 towers, down from 11 on the old CTEC quad, which is sitting under the Cabriolet for now.
Across old town Park City at Deer Valley, another Doppelmayr detachable quad is replacing another CTEC fixed-grip quad. Highlander Lift Services & Construction is assembling Homestake Express in the existing alignment but again with fewer towers. I think the new number is eight, down from a dozen in this high traffic area above Silver Lake Lodge. For its second winter under Alterra, Deer Valley will operate an impressive 13 high speed quads this season. The 1999 version of Homestake is bound for Utah Olympic Park.
- 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.
- Crystal Mountain owner John Kircher revives the idea of a second gondola to Campbell Basin, which would be around 7,800′ long and closely follow the one time path of an SLI double chair.
- Vermont shuts down the Hermitage Club for a third time as more lawsuits are filed against the business and its founder. One by a food service company argues, “The dire financial circumstances facing the defendants compel the plaintiff to press forward with alacrity…the collectible assets of the defendants appear to be dwindling.”
- The New York City Economic Development Corporation is again studying a gondola to connect Lower Manhattan with a redeveloped Governors Island.
- With 2,400 cabins headed out the door this year alone, CWA is expanding its production capabilities in Switzerland. Photos from the factory floor show new cabins bound for Montana, Hawaii and more.
- Park City’s NPR station reports a chair slid into another chair on the Jupiter lift in January, resulting in an injury, three day closure and now litigation.
- Approval of Woodward Park City is upheld, paving the way for construction of a fixed-grip quad.
- The Forest Service tentatively approves Purgatory’s proposed Gelande high-speed lift.
- A real estate development now under construction includes money for reopening New York’s Big Tupper with up to five lifts.
- New owners at Owl’s Head, Quebec may spend up to $150 million on new lifts and other improvements. The mountain currently includes three 1980s-era detachables including the world’s first high-speed quad from Breckenridge.
- Lift construction season is here! Thanks to Carleton G. for these photos of Waterville Valley’s new LST T-Bar.
- The latest Doppelmayr Wir highlights Yellowstone Club’s expansion and more.
- The Gondola Project updates us on the Leitner-Poma tram project at San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower transit center.
- Aspen Skiing Co. eyes opening the Pandora quad chairlift on Aspen Mountain in 2020.
- Majella Group CEO Sebastian Monsour tells the Bangor Daily News his Australian company is still working to close on the purchase of Saddleback Mountain while a former employee is suing for unpaid wages.
- A Montana community grapples with options for Teton Pass, a closed ski resort listed for $650,000 with one SLI double.
- In advance of its new gondola, Silver Star’s 1970 Mueller is listed for sale on SAM.
- CWA launches a slick new website and refreshed logo.
- Val Neigette, Quebec will close for good on April 1st and its 1990 Doppelmayr quad is on the market.
- An editorial in the Park Record floats the cool idea of a gondola from offsite parking at Kimball Junction to Park City’s Sun Peak zone with a possible mid-station at Utah Olympic Park.
- Big White’s Powder Chair will soon be available for $150,000 CAD.
- Alpine Media Technology raises $1 million to bring digital screens to more lifts including Winter Park’s new gondola.
- SkyTrans hopes to build and operate a $2 million gondola at an Illinois winery.
- A lawsuit against Sugar Mountain filed by the family of a child who jumped from a lift after closing has been settled.
- Leitner’s fifth 3S gondola will be a spectacular one with Symphony cabins and a combination gondola/railway/transit station.
- A Jacksonville, Florida developer proposes a river crossing gondola.
- What appears to be Walt Disney World’s gondola cabin maintenance facility is taking shape.
- Instagram suggests the Hermitage Club may have reached a deal to open this weekend following a state-ordered closure.