News Roundup: Resources

  • Amid zip line dispute, Peak Resorts threatens to close Hidden Valley, remove five chairlifts and sell the land to a residential developer.
  • “I’m very confident we’re going to have new resources we haven’t had in previous years,” Steamboat COO says of Crown/KSL ownership.  Deer Valley President and COO Bob Wheaton makes similar comments in Park City.
  • Saddleback sale to Australian firm still hasn’t closed.
  • Bear Valley’s six-pack looks great in green and now has a name: Mokelumne Express.
  • Who says detachable terminals must be symmetrical?  Leitner experiments in Europe.
  • T-Bar area in Edmonton, Alberta shuts down.
  • At the end of a tough year, Granby Ranch goes up for sale.
  • New Heavenly trail map confirms Galaxy won’t spin again this season, leaving a big hole in Nevada.
  • Epic Passes account for 43 percent of Vail Resorts revenue.
  • New lifts at the Yellowstone Club get names: Eglise, Great Bear and Little Dipper.  A few hundred families now enjoy the 14th largest lift fleet in the country.
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News Roundup: Oregon

News Roundup: Losses

  • Wire Austin gets some attention from folks who matter – the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.
  • Peak Resorts loses $7.9 million in the first quarter (it owns Alpine Valley, Attitash, Big Boulder, Boston Mills, Brandywine, Crotched Mountain, Hidden Valley, Hunter Mountain, Jack Frost, Mad River Mountain, Mt. Snow, Paoli Peaks, Snow Creek and Wildcat.)
  • The deropement and evacuation of the pulse gondola between the Aiguille du Midi and Pointe Helbronner makes CNN.
  • Austria’s Foreign Minister meets with former London Mayor Boris Johnson to talk Brexit.  The mayor says the Doppelmayr cowbell that came with the Emirates Air Line is one of his most prized possessions.
  • Federal receiver hopes to sell Jay Peak in the spring, says resort President Bill Stenger was duped.
  • Laurel Mountain’s new Skytrac is complete.
  • Maine’s Attorney General sues the owner of Big Squaw Mountain for not operating the ski area as promised.
  • Tamarack Homeowners meet to discuss the future of Idaho’s newest ski resort ahead of an October lift auction. Owner Credit Suisse and its operator Replay Resorts appear to be on the way out.
  • The owner of Montana Snowbowl tells the Missoulian he started construction on a new TV Mountain lift a few weeks ago and there’s a chance it will be completed in time for the coming winter season.
  • Preservation group calls abandoned mines in American Fork Canyon a “ticking time bomb,” calls on Snowbird to turn private land over to the Forest Service where the resort plans to build two new lifts.

News Roundup: Villages

News Roundup: Dramatic

News Roundup: Peak Pressure

  • Peak Resorts’ financial footing reportedly worsens amid staff layoffs, reduced operations and spending cuts.  The company owns 14 resorts across the Eastern U.S.
  • Leitner Ropeways celebrates 15 years of DirectDrive with 55 installations to date.
  • Poma has already delivered components for Zacatecas, Mexico’s new gondola but construction that was supposed to start in January has been delayed.
  • The 2002 Garaventa CTEC Chondola at Willamette Pass is still for sale along with the mountain’s Midway triple.  WP apparently can’t afford to maintain its only detachable lift and listed it for sale a year ago.
  • Le Relais also has 2 lifts newly listed (these are being removed to make way for a new six pack.)
  • LST signs La Plagne to launch the company’s first detachable lift next winter. MND Group CEO Xavier Gallot-Lavallee commented, “We are delighted to announce the initial commercial success of our brand new range of detachable chairlifts. The new contract signed with SAP, a subsidiary of leading ski resort operator Compagnie des Alpes, confirms the benefits of the innovative technology that we have developed and positions MND as a leading market player.”
LST chair
LST will debut unique new detachable chairs and terminals for a new six-pack chairlift in La Plagne.

News Roundup: Peak Buys Another

  • The first non-prototype photos of Doppelmayr’s new detachable terminal that will replace the Uni-G model over the next few years.  It’s certainly different; note the huge windows, Frey controls and stairs instead of ladders on the Kirchenkarbahn’s terminals.  Thanks for the head’s up, snowtirol.
  • Maine’s chief tramway inspector releases his report with pictures on the King Pine rollback and Sugarloaf’s GM responds.  Eight months after the incident, the replacement drive terminal is nearly finished.
  • Doppelmayr Garaventa Group revenue was down 7.5% to $841 million in fiscal 2015 while the company’s global employee headcount rose to 2,546.
  • Still more bad press surrounding Saddleback and the resort’s asking price is down to $9.5 million for 2,000 acres.  Meanwhile Boyne offers passholders in the lurch last spring’s rates on New England Passes.
  • Peak Resorts, the fourth largest operator of lifts in North America, buys Hunter Mountain for $36.8 million.  After the deal closes the publicly-traded company will operate 14 ski resorts with 153 lifts in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Missouri.
  • Two different models of LPOA chairs going up at Okemo and Purgatory.
  • West Mountain demonstrates an old lift can be new again with help from Leitner-Poma, SkyTrac, Green Mountain Control Systems and Alpine Engineering.
  • They call it ‘The Beast’ for a reason.  Killington opened for skiing on October 19th and is running 240 snow guns nightly, all while flying concrete and adding a mid-station to their Snowdon triple.  The 1973 Heron-Poma is evidently going to stick around for awhile.  Fun fact: Snowdon had a mid-station in nearly the same spot which was removed in 1990.
  • Lutsen’s recently retired Hall Skycruiser gondola cabins sold out in 4 minutes on Cyber Monday for $1200 each.  A new gondy opens to passengers December 11th after a brief delay.  If you missed out on the $1200 gondola cabins, you can still get someone a $150 double chair this holiday season.

Six Companies That Operate 589 Ski Lifts

Like many industries, much of the ski business is controlled by a handful of large companies. There are six such businesses in the Americas that operate more than 50 lifts each.  Their combined 589 lifts account for one fifth of all the lifts in North America and almost a third of the VTFH (vertical transport feet per hour.)  The top three operators are, as you would expect, Vail Resorts, Boyne Resorts and Intrawest.  But there are others including Mammoth Mountain, LLC which operates 55 lifts at four different ski areas in California and Powdr Corporation which has 68 lifts in five states.

logos

Vail Resorts doesn’t just own lots of lifts; the lifts they operate are bigger, newer and faster than average.  This winter, the company will operate 15 gondolas and tramways, 75 detachable chairlifts and 83 fixed grip chairlifts.  These numbers for Vail Resorts do not even include the lifts at Perisher, the company’s newest acquisition in Australia.  If you put each lift at each of Vail’s resorts end to end, the total length would be 115 miles.  The average lift owned by Vail Resorts is 21.5 years old, six years newer than the national average.  56 percent of Vail’s lifts were built by Doppelmayr and CTEC, 14 percent by Leitner-Poma.  Vail accounts for 11.4% of all the vertical transport capacity on the continent, with a total VTFH of 353 million!

Number of lifts for the six biggest operators and total life length in miles.
Number of lifts for the six biggest operators and total lift length in miles.

The second biggest resort operator is privately-owned Boyne Resorts, which has 126 lifts at 11 mountains.  Boyne doesn’t actually own most of the properties it operates; instead holding long-term leases through CNL Lifestyle Properties.  The lifts Boyne operates are older and smaller than Vail’s.  They include 30 detachable chairlifts and 85 fixed-grip chairs.   Doppelmayr and CTEC built 45 percent of Boyne’s lifts, followed by Riblet at 20 percent.  Boyne accounts for 5.3 percent of the total VTFH in North America or 162 million.

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