- Vail Resorts declines to voluntarily recognize the Crested Butte lift maintenance/electrical union, triggering a National Labor Relations Board election process.
- Eaglecrest offers an updated pulse gondola construction timeline with opening targeted for summer 2025.
- Magic Mountain plans to finish the Black Line Quad this summer after four years of trying.
- Utah skier visits rose a whopping 22 percent this season to 7.1 million.
- Quebec reports its strongest season in 16 years with 6.6 million skier visits.
- A single round trip ride on Europe’s newest 3S gondola will cost a whopping $265.
- Big Sky posts more photos of its new tram cabins taking shape in Switzerland.
- Smugglers’ Notch adds a section to its website about the proposed Stowe connector gondola.
- Holiday Mountain, New York sells to a new owner with plans to revive lost ski terrain.
- Park City begins loading new Sigma cabins on the Red Pine Gondola.
Park City Fined Following Employee Lift Fall Death
The Utah Division of Occupational Safety and Health (UOSH) issued a $2,500 violation to Park City Mountain for the January death of an employee after a tree fell on the Short Cut triple chair. The fine was assessed in March but first reported by Fox 13 Utah reporter Nate Carlisle over the weekend. The state found that Park City and parent company Vail Resorts should have known of the hazard of falling trees because two trees had to be removed from the same lift line the day before the accident. The state also found that lift operators were not trained or knowledgeable enough to assess trees for hazard along lift lines during morning line rides.
Park City Mountain received 25 inches of heavy, wet snow in the days leading up to the January 2nd incident. The day prior, Short Cut opened late due to a tree leaning on the lift that had to be removed. The Yan triple chair was closed later that day at 1:19 pm to remove another hazard tree identified by a lift mechanic. Less than 24 hours later, another tree fell on the heavy side of the line between towers 6 and 7. That time a patroller, 29 year old Christian Helger, was riding a chair nearby. The lift de-roped off a tower with the heavy side coming to rest in a rope catcher as designed. Helger was thrown from the chair, fell approximately 50 feet and landed head first in deep snow. Due to his location in a ravine and snow safety concerns, it took time for additional patrollers to reach the scene and dig Helger out. Despite lifesaving rescue efforts, Helger could not be revived and was later found to have died by asphyxiation. Other riders on the lift, including guests, were later evacuated by rope. The report does not address whether Helger had his lap bar down as required by Vail Resorts company policy.
The state interviewed numerous employees after the accident. One patroller identified only as “employee #4” said “Lift Operators are usually newer, younger employees, and have ‘no idea’ what to look for on a Line Ride.” Another patroller, who had previously worked as a lift operator, said “there is pressure to get lifts open in the morning, and there was ‘no time’ to ski the runs and check the lifts.” A Short Cut lift operator on duty the day of the accident reported that “he was told during the morning Line Ride to look for the cable being centered on the sheaves, and to look for trees leaning on the line but that he did not know what an unstable tree would look like.”
“Based on documents and photos received from all sources, the heavy snow received on January 1, and overnight into January 2, and the fact that two trees had to be removed from the Shortcut Lift line on January 1, 2023, VR-CPC Holdings (Vail Park City Resort management) should have been aware of the hazard of possible falling trees around the Shortcut Lift,” wrote the state, issuing a “serious” violation with a fine of $2,500. Vail Resorts has contested the citation and the fine could be reduced or eliminated in the future. In a statement, Park City Mountain vice president and chief operating officer Deirdra Walsh said “The Park City Mountain team is deeply saddened by the tragic death of our team member, Christian Helger. We extend our deepest sympathy to his family and friends.”
Short Cut never reopened during the season and requires significant repairs this summer.
News Roundup: Birds of Prey
- A pair of osprey nest atop a tower on Beaver Creek’s Riverfront Express, preventing maintenance work for now.
- New York’s Olympic Regional Development Authority plans to spend $80 million on lifts and snowmaking each of the next four years.
- The first 29 cabins will debut on Park City’s Red Pine Gondola June 30th with 26 more to follow next winter.
- SilverStar adds 21 new cabins to the Schumann Summit Express gondola.
- The first urban gondola in Canada could go out to bid in 2025.
- Leitner-Poma secures a tax credit for its upcoming facility in Utah.
- White Pass retires the Pigtail II double, the second oldest chairlift in the country dating back to 1958.
- The asking price for closed Toggenburg Mountain drops to $1.995 million.
- Leitner and Poma partner with a solar energy company to offer photovoltaic panels on detachable lift terminals.
- Lake Louise formally announces the Upper Juniper Express, to be built by Doppelmayr over the next two summers.
- A worker dies in a fall from an Italian aerial tramway while performing maintenance work.
- Chair 2 at Snow Valley is being shortened to become a beginner lift.
- Mt. Holly’s second detachable quad will be called Lightning Express.
- Snowmass seeks Forest Service approval to replace Coney Glade and Cirque.
- Cannon Mountain looks to announce a new tram on July 7th, the 85th anniversary of the original tram.
News Roundup: Sigma
- The three New York State-owned ski areas report record skier visits.
- Doppelmayr launches a new customer magazine called Up.
- Sigma Cabins has a new website.
- Park City’s outgoing Red Pine Gondola cabins go up for sale with an asking price of $25,000 each. New Sigma cabins have already started arriving.
- Lake Louise cuts the lift line for the future Upper Juniper Express.
- The Forest Service approves China Peak to reinstall Jackson Hole’s old Thunder quad.
- Snowshoe takes bids for retired triple chairs.
- Poma inaugurates the world’s fastest and highest capacity urban gondola in the Dominican Republic.
- No link but an end of season email from Sugarbush teases multiple upcoming lift replacements.
- Mont Blanc, Quebec to retrofit a second quad chair with a loading conveyor.
- The new triangle gondola in California wine country gets set to open in October.
News Roundup: Looking Ahead
- Mission Ridge proposes constructing a fifth chairlift in Bowl Four.
- Powder King, BC goes up for sale with an asking price of $8.25 million.
- Poley Mountain rope evacuates its triple chair.
- Sommet Olympia’s new lift coming next winter to be named Apollo.
- Steamboat’s forthcoming high speed quad will be called Mahogany Ridge.
- Leaders of Deer Valley, Park City and Ski Utah will host a community forum on Monday.
- Searchmont completes its fleet renewal with all lifts open for the first time in three years.
- The groundbreaking Matterhorn Alpine Crossing 3S linking Switzerland and Italy will open July 1st.
News Roundup: On Line
- MND raises more money to continue growth plans.
- Palisades Tahoe opens Red Dog, Mount Baldy, Ontario opens the chairlift it worked years to build.
- Vail aims to open Sun Down Express this weekend.
- Sunnyside at Alta will open tomorrow, two months late.
- Cascade Mountain’s delayed lift also spins tomorrow.
- Granite Gorge, New Hampshire reopens after a multi-year closure.
- Loup Loup temporarily closes its lone chairlift to remove hazard trees identified by the Forest Service.
- Children are injured falling from lifts at Boyne Mountain, Bristol Mountain and Mt. Snow.
- Vail Resorts reports a 12.5 percent increase in skier visits but cautions extreme weather and airline disruptions hurt holiday performance.
- Unionized lift mechanics at Park City prepare to negotiate their first contract with Vail Resorts.
- Whitewater’s Silver King lift will be down for up to a month.
- Crystal Mountain, Michigan’s main lift to be down all weekend.
News Roundup: Viral Videos
- Sunshine Village seeks to replace Angel Express by 2024, manufacturer TBD.
- Bromont’s outgoing Versant des Épinettes quad will get a second life at Mont Rigaud.
- Mont-Sainte-Anne reopens without its gondola. The FIS postpones a February World Cup event there.
- Whitefish won’t operate Bad Rock this winter.
- A child falls from a lift at Whitetail.
- A Park City guest is charged with assault for a mid-ride fight on the Saddleback Express.
- A snowboarder falling down a T-Bar line sends four other riders to the hospital in Europe.
- Blue Mountain, Pennsylvania will open the Main Street Express tomorrow.
- Utah Olympic Park and Doppelmayr near the finish line on the West Peak expansion.
- Ditto for Leitner-Poma and Vail on the Sun Down Express.
- Chairs go on Sunnyside at Alta.
- Boyne Resorts looks looks to hire an internal Lift Construction Director.
- The proposed Los Angeles gondola scores a courtroom victory.
- The operator of the Goldbelt Tram agrees to fund $10 million of the Eaglecrest Gondola.
- Granite Peak celebrates expansion approval.
- Mountain Capital Partners acquires a majority stake in Valle Nevado, Chile.
- Silverton Mountain seeks approval for two more chairlifts (pages 63-67).
- Vail Resorts announces a big new lift for Perisher, Australia.
Park City Mountain Employee Killed After Tree Falls on Chairlift
A tree fell on the Short Cut triple around 10:45 am this morning at Park City Mountain, causing a ski patroller on the lift to fall more than 25 feet. Despite swift rescue efforts, the 29 year old worker did not survive. Ten other passengers on the lift were evacuated and several other chairlifts in the area were closed to support the ski patrol response. The mountain had received 25 inches of dense snow in the past 48 hours as part of a major storm cycle.
“The Park City Mountain team – as well as the entire Vail Resorts team – extend our deepest sympathy and support to the family and friends of our team member,” said Deirdra Walsh, Park City Mountain vice president & chief operating officer. “We are all deeply saddened by this tragic incident, and we will be providing support for our employees as we grieve this devastating loss.”
Short Cut was installed in 1997 and features triple chairs with lap bars. The lift will remain closed until an investigation is complete. Other lifts in the area are expected to reopen tomorrow.
Update 1/4: Authorities identified the deceased ski patroller as 29 year old Christian Helger of Millcreek, Utah. The cause of death will be determined by the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner.
News Roundup: California Republic
- The owners of Mountain High and Dodge Ridge purchase China Peak.
- Vail Resorts reports 2.3 million pass products sold, though full Epic and Epic Local sales are down 12 percent.
- From the classifieds: a Poma gondola for sale in Australia and a Poma six pack for sale in Ontario.
- Kelly Canyon renames all its chairlifts.
- An updated trail map shows where Bittersweet’s new chairlifts run.
- Mt. La Crosse changes hands.
- Carriers are on both Big Red and Creekside at Whistler Blackcomb.
- A Park City reporter discovers more than 20 percent of the Red Pine Gondola‘s cabins are out of service.
- Attitash asks for votes on four name options for next year’s high speed quad.
- Storms slow progress on Red Dog at Palisades Tahoe and Far East Express can’t open until the new lift is complete.
- KT-22 is currently operating as a triple chair.
- European multi-resort operator Compagnie des Alpes signs a four year lift deal with Poma worth €200 million at list prices.
- MND’s first chairlift in the USA goes live tomorrow morning.
- The nonprofit which runs Big Squaw signs a new five year contract.
- Deer Valley will host open houses this week regarding future plans.
- Thanks to Dave Amirault for these progress photos of Burns Express at Deer Valley.
Park City to Replace Red Pine Gondola Cabins
Despite the recent postponement of two major lift projects, Vail Resorts will press ahead with another major upgrade at Park City next summer. Leitner-Poma of America has been contracted to supply all-new cabins for the Red Pine Gondola, the out-of-base workhorse in Canyons Village. The eight passenger lift dates back to 1997 and currently features 58 CWA Omega cabins with two spares. All 60 cars will be swapped for 55 Sigma Diamond C8S155 cabins manufactured in France. The project is similar to the 2018 upgrade of Killington’s K-1 Gondola, a sister ship to Red Pine built by Poma the same year for American Skiing Company.
“Some incremental re-engineering of towers and terminal rails will be completed to support the change,” said a Park City representative by email. The mountain’s other major lift project, replacement of Silverlode and Eagle, remains in legal limbo and will proceed if and when it gains approval. In the meantime, Vail Resorts and Doppelmayr are working to install equipment originally ordered for Park City at Whistler Blackcomb. In addition to the Whistler and Red Pine projects, Vail Resorts also plans to install new lifts at Attitash, Breckenridge, Keystone and Stevens Pass next year.