News Roundup: More Cabins

  • A live streaming webcam shows New Hampshire’s largest and fastest gondola going in at Bretton Woods.  Some tidbits on the lift from the New Hampshire Tramway Board: line speed will be 6 m/s with 36 cabins and a design capacity of 2,600 using 62 cabins.  SkyTrans is taking the retired B double and the gondola’s load test is slated for December 20th.
  • Sunrise Park Resort abruptly ends all summer operations.
  • In Europe, some pulse gondolas are on the way out.
  • As it works to finalize its lease of Mt. Sunapee, Vail Resorts assures New Hampshire residents the company is in for the long haul and doesn’t plan any real estate development at the state-owned mountain.
  • A stack up of at least nine cabins on the White urban gondola line in La Paz last Monday is deemed the result of human error.  No passengers were on the lift at the time.
Photo credit: Página Siete

Advertisements

Poma Releases 2017 Reference Book

2017pomacover

The latest edition of the annual Poma Reference Book is out and features pictures, statistics and diagrams from projects the storied French manufacturer completed last year.  Poma has now built more than 8,000 lifts in 80 countries and many of the newest gondolas and detachable chairlifts were built in Asia last year.  One of them was among the first gondolas to utilize Sigma’s new Diamond Evo cabins with sliding doors in China.  Other projects were realized as far away from France as Inner Mongolia, Vietnam and Myanmar.  Another notable installation was a 10-passenger reversible tramway with double LPA grips in Ecuador.

Unfortunately not quite all of Leitner-Poma of America’s U.S. and Canadian projects were included in the book but there are some excellent images of three new six-packs built for Vail Resorts in Colorado as well as the supremely unique quad at Alta, Utah.  As you scroll through the pages, note how many of Poma’s detachable lifts built outside North America in 2017 feature Direct Drive.  LPOA plans to bring the innovative technology to Colorado for the first time in 2018.

Two New Lifts Are Coming to Magic Mountain

They call it “the road less traveled,” a classic Vermont mountain situated about half way between Stratton and Okemo.  Now in its second year of new ownership, Magic Mountain has carved a successful niche offering top quality, affordable skiing despite a competitive landscape.  Ski Magic LLC added a new carpet lift and restarted work on a new double chair to service intermediate terrain soon after taking over operations in late 2016.  Fresh off a successful 2017-18 season with increased skier visits, investors plan to spend an impressive $1.6 million on key infrastructure this summer including two important new chairlifts.

In addition to completing the Green Chair project by early summer, Magic announced today that a Poma quad chair will replace the Black lift, which dates back to the middle of last century.  The 1962 Pohlig double was once converted to a triple with Yan chairs before being turned back into a double in recent years.  Today it sports towers from Pohlig, Hall and possibly Poma and the time has finally come to retire it.

Black Chair in action on big day for Magic! #skimagicvt #skitheeast

A post shared by Magic Mountain Ski Area (@skimagicvt) on

The new Black Line quad is a 1986 Poma Alpha model which is being removed from Stratton this month to make way for the Snow Bowl ExpressThe predecessor will find a new home less than 15 miles away, becoming the workhorse base-to-summit machine at Magic.  The incoming Green Chair is also from Stratton, a Borvig removed in 1995 called Betwixed.  “When we heard Stratton was replacing their Snow Bowl lift with a new high-speed detachable, four-passenger lift, our investor group jumped on the opportunity to try and purchase their Poma fixed-grip quad”, said Geoff Hatheway, President of Ski Magic. “For our ski community, this lift is a huge upgrade that meets and manages our current and future growth expectations, better fulfills customer desires for quality, reliable lift service at Magic, and sustains our reputation as an area with both minimal lift lines and low on-slope skier density.”  He went on to thank Stratton President and COO Bill Nupp for his help securing the lift’s future in Southern Vermont.

8d4d8a_cb60e03522b14c839faf26f3c12c7600_mv2_d_5000_3618_s_4_2

Black Line capacity will more than triple from 620 skiers per hour to 2,000 with the new lift unloading slightly higher to service all of Magic’s trails.  The 148 chair lift will be over 5,000 feet long with approximately 1,500 feet of vertical rise.  Magic’s 1971 Heron-Poma double will stay in the rotation and operate at peak times, meaning the Black quad, Red double, and Green double are all slated for service in the 2018/19 season.  With Magic’s plans, at least seven new lifts will debut in Vermont next season, the most since 1995.

News Roundup: One Billion

  • Despite competition from the Ikon and Epic passes, Peak Resorts reports sales of its Peak Passes are up 14 percent year over year through 4/30.
  • HTI, the parent company of Leitner, Poma, Aguido, MiniMetro, Prinoth and more reports it built 75 ropeways in 2017 and exceeded $1 billion in revenue.
  • The Hermitage Club opposes its primary lender’s motion to appoint a receiver and says it has found a financial firm willing to loan $26 million in restructuring capital.  A key court hearing is scheduled for one week from today.
  • TransLink’s ten year, $8.8 billion vision includes funding for Burnaby Mountain Gondola planning.
  • Gondola fever spreads in Edmonton.
  • A gondola is being looked at for Idaho Springs, Colorado along I-70.
  • SE Group and the White River National Forest test an interactive storyboard as a public engagement tool for Beaver Creek’s McCoy Park Expansion.  Comments are due May 29th and a decision is expected in September.
  • The Forest Service proposes quickly approving the replacement of Arizona Snowbowl’s Agassiz triple with a 6,100 foot combination lift utilizing gondola cabins between every three or four chairs.  Capacity would be only 1,200 passengers per hour.
  • Magic Mountain commits to finishing the Green lift and weighs the future of its nearby Pohlig-Hall-Yan contraption.

News Roundup: Connected

  • See for yourself is how Aspen parks its gondolas for the offseason.
  • The supremely-talented James Niehues is painting an all-new map of Copper Mountain to debut next winter along with two new lifts.
  • This month’s Poma Link spotlights good stuff from Europe…a new brand platform, details on Diamond Evo cabins and new sheave liners coming in 2019.
  • The Leitner Ropeways 2017 annual report is packed full of photographs and drawings for 32 new lifts the company completed last year.
  • The world’s tallest tubular lift tower goes up in La Paz at 194 feet!
  • A man who said he was stuck on a Gore Mountain chairlift the night of April Fool’s Day is charged with making false statements.
  • Two hackers say they were able to access the Doppelmayr Connect control system for an Austrian gondola in March, raising cyber security concerns.  Doppelmayr says the issue has been fixed and no riders were ever at risk.
  • The first Skyliner station is going up in Florida and it’s a monster that appears to have two separate turnaroundsA sea of lift parts is also on site at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • Leitner unveils cabins clad with Swarovski crystals for the new Matterhorn 3S.
  • Berkshire Bank pays propane, electric and tax bills to keep the heat on and prevent a tax sale as it asks a judge to allow a receiver to take over operations at the Hermitage Club.
  • Doppelmayr names a new managing director set to take over later this year.
  • LST combines wireless operator controls, 3D cameras, RFID tags and LED lighting to encourage safety bar usage and increase loading safety.
  • The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management approve Sun Valley’s Cold Springs Canyon project.
  • Big Sky teases an updated rendering of Ramcharger 8 and the first photo from the factory.
  • I’ll end this week’s roundup with some interesting thoughts on recent ski resort sales and valuations from Mike Krongel.

News Roundup: On the Block

  • Alterra’s David Perry says significant capital is likely be spent at Steamboat in 2018 and 2019 with phase two of the gondola rebuild and other big projects on the table.
  • A Denver TV reporter heads to Texas for a two-part interview with the husband of Kelly Huber, the woman killed during a lift malfunction last year at Granby Ranch.
  • Two loaded chairs collide at Owl’s Head, Quebec after the Green Chair was pressed into rare operation amid downtime on a neighboring high-speed quad.  The 1972 Heron-Poma is the former Big Hitch lift from Stagecoach, Colorado.
  • China Peak’s owner wishes he still had the $900,000 he spent to build a new lift last summer that can’t open with no snow.
  • The new Peak triple was rope evac’d at Pats Peak last Monday, apparently due to a gearbox issue.
  • Poma dedicates its newest factory in France.
  • Disney Skyliner’s first tower is up and it’s tapered in the cool Wolfurt style.
  • Ian Cumming, founder of Powdr and majority owner of Snowbird, dies at age 77.
  • Granite Gorge’s chairlift opens for the season after a gearbox issue and other problems.
  • Ariel Quiros officially settles with the Securities and Exchange Commission for $82 million, paving the way for the sale of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain.
  • The world’s longest lift is open!
  • Killington formally applies to replace the South Ridge triple with a quad chair, manufacturer unknown. The sample profile confusingly shows a Poma Alpha drive and Doppelmayr Eclipse return terminal.
  • Teton Pass, Montana won’t reopen under current ownership and is up for sale.
  • Skier visits have declined 30 percent in South Korea over the last five years and there are several lost ski resorts in the Olympic region.
  • The Sawtooth National Forest tentatively approves Sun Valley’s project to replace the Cold Springs lift with a longer high-speed quad as soon as this summer.
  • A chairlift will be studied studied for one of Alabama’s most popular state parks.
  • Alterra names Mammoth veteran Rusty Gregory as the company’s first CEO.

Lifts to Look for in PyeongChang

jeongseon
A new gondola at South Korea’s Jeongseon Alpine Centre glides over a Wold Cup race in 2017.  Photo credit: Doppelmayr

The Olympics have become a boon for ski lift companies, which often supply tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in new lifts in the run up to each Games.  Most recently for Sochi’s 2014 venues, Doppelmayr built a staggering 40 ropeways including multiple tricable gondolas that could even carry cars in the event of road closures.  Poma built another $137 million worth – 16 lifts – the most concurrently at a single area in company history.  Even summer host cities often feature ropeways that I’d like to think contributed to them being chosen as hosts in the first place.  Transport for London and Doppelmayr launched the Emirates Air Line just in time for the 2012 games and Rio de Janeiro debuted multiple urban gondolas in the run up to 2016.

Jeongseon

jeongseon_01.jpg
Jeongseon Alpine Centre is a purpose-built Olympic downhill facility with 100 percent automated snowmaking coverage.

The 2018 games kick off February 9th in and around PyeongChang, South Korea.  Three ski resorts will host alpine events just 125 miles from where North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un opened his own new ski resort with a gondola and four chairlifts in 2013.  The South’s democratic government has constructed a similar facility from scratch to host the downhill and super-G events, called Jeongseon Alpine Centre.  Doppelmayr supplied a unique two-section gondola in 2015 and added additional two high-speed quad lifts in 2016.  This is notable because there are really only two runs!  One of the chairlifts is very similar to the temporary Timing Flats high-speed quad at Whistler, which simply ferried foot passengers from the base area to finish plaza during the 2010 Games and was moved to Sunshine Village after just two weeks of public use.

touristchair.png
Spectators for the downhill, super G and combined will ride this lift to access a 6,500 seat stadium finish.  Photo credit: Doppelmayr

The two-section Jeongseon Downhill Gondola is powered by a single 857 horsepower motor and services the entire 2,707 vertical-foot  men’s downhill course.  A stacked bullwheel at the lift’s angle station has two grooves for the two different haul ropes.  After some delays with site prep, the gondola was built by multiple crews in just three months from November 2015 to February 2016, just before an IOC deadline.  The finish line at Jeongseon sits at only 1,788 feet above sea level and a 4,500 gallon-per-minute snowmaking system was also built here.  The venue receives little natural snowfall and has been criticized for its ecological impact and questionable future as a public facility.

Continue reading

News Roundup: Economies of Scale

  • Poma wins monster $47.1 million contract for five lifts from the company that operates Val d’Isère, Tignes, Meribel, La Plagne and Les Arcs in France.  Last year’s three-lift, $29.4 million contract from the same group went to Doppelmayr.
  • An Australian teenager is lucky to be alive after doing pull ups on a moving chairlift cable.
  • The inaugural gondola featuring Sigma’s Symphony 10 cabins debuts in Italy.
  • Canton, Ohio looks at gondolas, calling them “transportainment.”
  • Props to Bear Valley for frequent Moke Express updates.
  • A judge sides with Monarch in lift unloading injury lawsuit.
  • Following a workplace death and news that a major lift is out of service, confusion surrounds Sunrise Park Resort’s season, though new management and lifts could be on the way.
  • Record-shattering aerial tramway with 6,381 feet of vertical and a 10,541′ free span opens in Germany a week from today.
  • Connecticut’s Woodbury Ski Area might be gone for good.
  • George Kruger of Ski Lifts Unlimited, instrumental in rebuilding lifts at Magic Mountain and beyond, passes away.
  • Leitner-Poma is completing final assembly of a cool 25-passenger tramway at the upcoming Salesforce Tower in San Francisco.

News Roundup: Turnover

  • Squaw seeks extension for permit to replace Red Dog lift.
  • MND Group turnover increases 15.1 percent year-over-year.  The company aims to double sales by 2020 partially through LST Ropeways subsidiary.  Referencing the new Cannon Mountain T-Bar in the latest magazine, MND notes “success has enabled LST to penetrate the US market, paving the way for other promising opportunities.”
  • Doppelmayr will begin building its next tri-cable gondola in December.  Who would have guessed Kenya would get a 3S before the United States!
  • Forest Service gives final green light for Breckenridge and Keystone six-place upgrades.
  • A slow landslide continues to move tower 6 of the Barrows lift at Howelsen Hill.
  • SE Group will study placement of Aspen Mountain’s future Lift 1A.
  • Denver Post publishes two part interview with Larry Smith of the CPTSB re: Granby Ranch.
  • The LiftDigital safety bar display system with integrated Wi-Fi will launch in Colorado for 2017-18.
  • New PomaLink newsletter features the Grand Canyon Express and a six-station gondola at a zoo in China.
  • Poma’s 2016 Reference Book includes LPOA installations but not Skytrac ones.
  • Mountain Creek files for bankruptcy protection with debts totaling $40+ million including $500,000 balance on 2012 Partek chairlift loan.
  • One of Heavenly’s original 1962 tram cars is for sale.  Email me if you’re interested.
  • heavenlytramcar
  • Artur Doppelmayr died Friday at age 95.  May he rest in peace.

News Roundup: Colorado

announcednewlifts3-15
Likely new lifts for 2017 are pacing 39 percent ahead of last year, when 28 new lifts had been announced on this date.  I’ve identified 39 lift projects for 2017 and if last year’s pattern holds, lift manufacturers will build approximately 57 new ropeways in N. America in 2017, the most since 2004.  We’ll know by about July 1.