Eldora Mountain Resort will launch its first detachable lift next ski season, a six-pack replacing two decades-old fixed-grips at Powdr Co.’s newest resort near Denver. Doppelmayr USA and Highlander Ski Lift Services & Construction will partner to manufacture and install the six-pack this summer and fall, reuniting the team that collaborated to launch the new Cloudchaser lift at sister resort Mt. Bachelor in 2016. Highlander also installed Solitude’s Summit Express in 2015.
“This new high speed lift is another significant improvement that will greatly enhance the Eldora experience for our snowsports community,” said Brent Tregaskis, general manager at Eldora in a press release. “The goal of Eldora and Powdr Adventure Lifestyle Co. is to service our guests and community as best we can.” Powdr bought Eldora last June and promised to make major upgrades.
The new six-place detachable will replace both Cannonball, a 1973 Heron-Poma double, and Challenge, a 1971 Hall triple relocated to Eldora from Sun Valley in 1992. The yet-to-be-named new lift will load between the Indian Peaks and Timbers lodges and rise 1,000 vertical feet in just 4.5 minutes. Capacity will reach an impressive 3,600 skiers per hour with 17 towers and a slope length of 3,829′. Eldora released renderings of the new lift showing sleek dark red and black Uni-G terminals.
Mt. Bachelor will open the long-awaited east side expansion served by a new high speed quad called Cloudchaser in time for Christmas. Powdr Corp. has signed a nearly $6 million contract with Doppelmayr to install the lift this summer. The project will add 635 acres of skiable terrain to Mt. Bachelor, making it the 5th largest ski area in the United States. This will be the first new terrain serviced by a new lift since the Northwest Express was added in 1996. With the addition of Cloudchaser, Mt. Bachelor will have eight detachable quad chairs serving more than 4,300 acres. The new lift will rise 1,448 vertical feet with a slope length of 6,576 feet and 21 towers.
Mt. Bachelor will host a Cloudchaser launch party on May 7th with free skiing and entertainment. “This is an exciting milestone for the entire team here at Mt. Bachelor and for you, our loyal pass holders,” interim General Manager John McCleod wrote in an email to season pass holders. “Powdr’s investment in this lift underscores a commitment to Mt. Bachelor and provides us a new way to enjoy our favorite mountain.”
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.
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!
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.