- An in-depth look at the history of urban gondolas and what comes next.
- Buttermilk will open with full skier services and groomed runs April 8-9 but with no lifts.
- Hesperus reopens following two week closure to address deferred lift maintenance.
- Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation proposes operating Howelsen Hill.
- Giants Ridge puts a Riblet up for sale in advance of new lift construction. Another will be scrapped. Buttercup at Mt. Hood Meadows is also for sale.
- Vail Resorts revenue up 27.5% year-over-year; no new lifts for Whistler-Blackcomb in 2017.
- New Stagecoach website says two Doppelmayr chairlifts now on track to open in late 2018.
- PCL Construction Services files notice of commencement for utility relocation and prep at six Walt Disney World sites widely believed to be gondola station locations with possible opening in 2019.
- Belleayre gondola likely a go for this summer.
- Wolf Ridge, NC closes for the season following lightning damage to 1988 Doppelmayr quad. The place has an interesting past; a 2006 Doppelmayr CTEC quad and 1980 Borvig were both abandoned after a 2014 fire and only two lifts remain.
- Mexico’s latest gondola gets cabins.
- Poma moving to new headquarters in France.
- Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest approves Alta Supreme and Snowbasin Strawberry/Wildcat high speed quads.
- Moose charges lifties and guests at Alyeska, gets killed.
- Mi Teleférico’s blue line broke its own record last weekend carrying 64,275 passengers over two days.
- First look at a burned-out Christchurch Adventure Park shows some quad chairs were saved, haul rope was not.
- Another urban 3S idea pops up in metro Vancouver.
- Latest Aspen Mountain Lift 1A replacement plan to go before the City Council this month.
- Taos will apparently build three new lifts over the next two years, including a pulse gondola and high speed quad.
- MND goup leads joint venture to develop a turnkey €110 million ski resort with at least three LST lifts in China.
- Poma signs exclusive contract to supply up to €200 million in lifts to Beijing 2022 venue Thaiwoo, will open spare parts facility in Chongli Olympic region.
- Bogotá’s first urban gondola to open in Q2 2018.
- Two-stage gondola proposed at billion dollar resort in Canmore, Alberta.
- Aerial tramway envisioned to connect Interstate 5 to the Pacific Crest Trail in Northern California.
- Possible manufacturer Doppelmayr mum on Disney gondolas.
- Swiss Air Force plane severs camera cable, nearly misses Garaventa high speed quad at Alpine World Ski Championships.
- Vermont is King of the East when it comes to lift technology and skier visits.
- Magic Mountain’s 56-year-old Pohlig-Yan-Hall-Poma triple contraption licensed to operate (as a double chair) for the first time in three years. Magic claims the Vermont Passenger Tramway Board no longer permits mid-stations.
- Red Bull should be ashamed of itself for promoting stunts like this.
- Christchurch Adventure Park acknowledges significant damage to its brand new detachable following fire.
- This story is one of the reasons tram and gondola staff sleep at the top of Jackson Hole every night.
- First LST Ropeways detachable set to finally open in March.
- Silver Mountain’s new owner hints at future new lifts.
- Steamboat paper does a two part story on lift and gondola evacuations.
- Pandora’s lift still in the cards for Aspen Mountain but 1A might come first.
- In France, Poma finalizes contracts to build $121 million urban 3S gondola in Toulouse, $15.6 million jigback in Orléans.
- Arlington says no to Georgetown-Rosslyn Gondola.
- Innsbruck to build $12.7 million D-Line gondola.
- Saddleback effort moves forward, but lifts will not spin this season.
- Al Henceroth of A-Basin explains why he chose a fixed-grip quad for The Beavers.
- Town of Gatlinburg to review Boyne’s design for new Sky Lift tomorrow.
- Leitner-Poma presents gondola technology as a potential solution to downtown traffic in Breckenridge.
- Wildfire tears through $24 million Christchurch Adventure Park in New Zealand, where a Doppelmayr high speed quad opened less than two months ago.
- The Skytrac blog has a cool post about the newest Rainforest Adventures park in St. Maarten and its two hurricane-proof fixed-grip quads.
- South Korea prepares for a Doppelmayr Olympics, Poma signs new contract for a 2022 venue in China.
- Whitewater’s Summit double goes up for sale.
- Poma begins hanging 160 Diamond cabins on Santo Domingo’s two new urban gondolas.
Eight new eight-passenger chairlifts debuted this ski season, the highest number in history. Twenty years since the technology debuted, Doppelmayr, Garaventa, Leitner and Poma have now built a combined 78 of these mega chairlifts on three continents and in eleven countries. With 2016 seeing the greatest number of eight-passenger chairlifts constructed, a question on everybody’s mind should be: when will the world’s second largest ski market finally build one?
Doppelmayr debuted eight-passenger chair technology in 1997 (in Norway of all places) and continues to be the market leader, having built two-thirds of those operating today. But for the first time ever the Leitner-Poma Group installed more than Doppelmayr and Garaventa combined last year. In 2006, Leitner built the first combined installation with eight-passenger chairs and 10-passenger gondola cabins and there are now seven of these across Europe. Bubble chairs and seat heating came along in 2000 and nearly every new eight-passenger lift features both these days. In total, 60 percent of eight seaters globally have bubbles and half sport heated seats.
Austria is home to over 60 percent of the world’s eight-passenger chairlifts and exactly five have ever made it out of Europe. Australia and Asia each got their first in 2003 but several leading ski markets have never gone there – among them Japan, Canada, China and the United States.
- Granite Peak will announce a plan this fall for new runs and multiple new lifts.
- Crystal Mountain pushes back Kelly’s Gap high speed quad to 2021.
- James Coleman purchases Hesperus, adding to his collective that includes Arizona Snowbowl, Pajarito, Purgatory and Sipapu. A 1961 Riblet double from Mt. Bachelor is Hesperus’ only lift.
- Fatzer opens a new production plant.
- The United States overtakes France as the world’s most popular ski destination. The U.S. is the fourth largest lift market.
- Austin’s NPR station dedicates more than seven minutes to a discussion about urban cable. “Once we went to La Paz, we were up and running within 12 months,” Doppelmayr’s Randy Woolwine tells listeners.
- A six-pack rises at Arizona Snowbowl.
- Eagle Point unveils Vision 2020 with new lifts and expanded terrain planned.
- Next season might be the last for Blackcomb’s Horstman T-Bar due to glacial recession. This video demonstrates one of the pitfalls of the sinking T-Bar.
- SAM reports how Jay Peak employees have made the most of a bad situation amidst a federal fraud investigation.
- Mont Bellevue gets a Doppelmayr Eco quad with a return station design we haven’t seen before and two different-style bullwheels.
- Le Relais’ $5 million six-place chair is just about finished.
- Vail Resorts loses $65.3 million in the fourth quarter.
- Big Sky’s new six-pack will be named Powder Seeker.
- The first Poma EEZII-model compact detachable terminal is assembled in France.
- Whistler-Blackcomb releases Conflicted Obsessions documentary about climate change. “The gorilla in the room is the long-distance travel required to get to these special places,” admits W-B’s environmental resource manager.
- The White River National Forest conditionally approves new lifts at Arapahoe Basin including a Beavers chair, Zuma surface lift, replacements for Molly Hogan/Pallavicini and removal of Norway.
- The Science Channel profiles the Palm Springs Tramway, which has the largest vertical rise of any lift in North America.
- Two more American urban gondola ideas pop up: Uptown Gondola in Cincinnati and Honolulu Aerial.
- Austrian ski pass merger creates a ticket valid for a record 925 lifts.
- Dubai will get a gondola to serve a $1.6 billion artificial peninsula called Blue Waters Island.
- China reverse-engineers the Doppelmayr Uni-G, with poor results.
- A consortium led by Poma beats out Doppelmayr in the bidding to build a two-stage urban gondola over water in Guayaquil, Ecuador with a second line in the works.
- South America now makes up 17 percent of Doppelmayr’s global revenue, approximately equal to North America.
- Peru’s President recently visited the ancient fortress of Kuelap, where Poma is 90 percent finished with a new 8-passenger gondola. The only problem? The haul rope hasn’t been installed yet. So crews slung cabins from towers for the Presidential photo-op to make it look closer to being done!
- 2017-18 reopening of The Balsams is an open question.
- Burke Mountain Academy will buy a T-Bar to replace the 1956 Mountain Poma at Vermont’s Burke Mountain in 2017.
- Echo Mountain sells to a 27-year old D.U. grad for $3.8 million.
- Jay Peak Resort seeks loan in “extremely tight cash situation” after $2.5 million payment to Doppelmayr/Garaventa for tram upgrades.
- Montana Snowbowl begins work on TV Mountain expansion, to include a used Riblet from Snowmass.
- The Vancouver Sun reveals Vail courted Whistler Blackcomb for months, will cut season pass prices in half.
This is an open thread. Feel free to leave a comment on anything lift-related.
With the Olympics opening tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, the world looks to a seaside metropolis with more than six million residents and the first South American city to host an Olympic Games. While Brazil has no ski resorts, Rio features aerial lifts ranging from hundred year-old tramways to modern gondolas connecting the city’s favelas to the regional transit network.
The famous Sugarloaf Mountain twin tramways were among the world’s first cableways of any kind when they debuted in 1912. A century later, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff championed development of a five-section Poma gondola connecting some of Rio’s largest slums, modeled after the pioneering gondola network in Medellín. In 2013, Doppelmayr built a three-station gondola in Morro da Providência, serving more than 5,000 residents in one of Rio’s oldest favelas. Further urban cable projects proposed for Rio have faltered as the city works to combat challenges we’ve become all too familiar with leading up to the Games.
Teleférico do Alemão
Teleférico do Alemão is one of the largest and most complex gondola systems in the world with six stations and 152 10-passenger Sigma Diamond cabins. Built by Poma and operated by private train company SuperVia, Teleférico do Alemão opened July 7, 2011. The system is capable of transporting 3,000 passengers per hour over 2.2 miles of dense neighborhoods in 16 minutes. The lift changes angle four times, including a 100-degree turn at Alemão Station.
70,000 residents are eligible for two free rides daily on the gondola, which links favelas in the Complexo do Alemão to the Bonsucesso train station. Six expansive rooftop stations that feature banks, stores and social services rise above the favelas. The gondola system cost approximately $74 million to build and serves 9,000 daily riders. Initial ridership estimates of 30,000 per day have not been realized as Rio has struggled to attract non-residents to ride the teleférico through crime-ridden neighborhoods. Unlike in Medellín and La Paz, residents have criticized the construction of an expensive gondola through communities that lack electricity, clean water and basic sanitation.
South American cities are world leaders in urban cable transport, with 24 urban gondolas either opened or planned in Bogotá, Caracas, Guayaquil, La Paz, Lima, Medellín and Rio de Janeiro. I’ve written extensively about La Paz, Bolivia’s capital that went all in on cable transport with eleven gondolas either operating, under construction or planned. But a full decade before the creation of Mi Teleférico in La Paz, Metro de Medellín opened the first of three Metrocable gondola lines in Colombia’s third largest city. Metrocable Line K was the first urban gondola to seamlessly link with a subway anywhere in the world, providing under-served and poor neighborhoods access to the city’s transport network. Metrocable’s J, K and L lines, with ten stations over 5.8 miles, now compose a quarter of the Metro de Medellín network. All three Metrocable lines are 8-passenger monocable gondolas built by Poma.
Line K debuted in 2004 with a shockingly low construction cost of $26 million. Its four stations branch off from the Acevedo Metro station over a length of 6,798 feet, giving three neighborhoods access to the core subway Line A that opened in 1996. This gondola rises 1,309 feet with a rope speed of 5 m/s. Metrocable Line J opened in 2008 at a cost of $47.5 million, serving four more stations from the terminus of the shorter subway Line B. Line J is longer than the original K at just under 9,000 feet. A ride with seamless transfers between buses, two Metro subway lines and two Metrocable lines costs less than a dollar.
Rising from the cruise docks on the edge of Alaska’s capital, the Mt. Roberts Tramway is the undisputed steepest lift in North America with an average slope angle of 39 degrees. The now-famous tram carried its first passengers 1,800 feet above Juneau almost twenty years ago. It’s among the newest large aerial tramways in North America and one of two in the U.S. built by Poma. The summit terminal soars 165 feet above the forested slopes of Mt. Roberts, downtown Juneau and the massive cruise ships below. On August 10th, the tram will celebrate twenty years of service and more than 3.5 million riders.
John Heiser proposed the lift in 1994, becoming President of the Mount Roberts Development Corporation before leaving to join Intrawest. He financed the $16 million project with investments from Anchorage businessmen and Goldbelt (an Alaska Native Corporation) and leased right of way from the City of Juneau. Goldbelt took 100-percent ownership of the tram in 1998.
- Whistler Blackcomb Foundation raises $221,000 at 5-course charity dinner aboard the Peak 2 Peak Gondola complete with in-cabin chandeliers.
- Mt. Baldy, BC gets a new owner and plans to re-open next season.
- Powderhorn says its big new lift boosted visits.
- Poma will build a 3-stage urban gondola in the Moroccan port city of Tangier.
- The latest plan for Aspen Mountain’s 1A envisions a bubble quad chair and possibly a platter lift.
- Whaleback, NH buys the old Hall T-Bar from Plattekill, NY for its West Side Project.
- Poma leads a group of French companies on a trip to Iran promoting mountain development.