News Roundup: Alterra

  • Neighbors aren’t happy about light and noise from Woodward Park City, though the new area was able to turn down the start alarm on the Hot Laps chairlift.
  • Mt. Baldy in Thunder Bay, Ontario plans to buy a new quad chair for next season.
  • The City of Durango considers whether building a new chairlift at Chapman Hill makes sense at an increasingly marginal elevation for natural snow.
  • Spout Springs will remain closed this season and is still for sale.
  • Mexico City begins work on Cablebús Line 2, a Leitner system with 7 stations, 308 cabins and 59 towers.  (Line 1 is Doppelmayr and already under construction.)
  • Seven people are injured and a gas station destroyed when a gondola haul rope being installed in Medellín, Colombia lets loose.
  • Alterra closes on Sugarbush and Win Smith transitions from owner to employee.
  • A French paraglider is lucky to survive being caught in a platter lift‘s haul rope.
  • To address crowding concerns, Crystal Mountain eliminates walk up lift ticket sales on weekends and holidays, effective immediately.  The resort will also no longer offer group discounts, gift card ticket redemptions or rental/ticket packages on weekends and holidays.
  • New York State opens its newest gondola in Lake Placid, called the SkyRide.
  • Geyser Holdings offers $4 million for the Hermitage Club and Boyne Resorts separately bids $3.6 million for the Barnstormer lift.  An auction could be held next month.
  • Skytrac’s Hilltrac people movers now feature Sigma cabins.
  • Montana Snowbowl opens its Snow Park expansion for the first time.
  • The owners of Perfect North Slopes plan to build at least one new top-to-bottom lift at newly-acquired Timberline, West Virginia this summer.
  • The State of Maine postpones a decision on a loan guarantee related to the sale of Saddleback Mountain.
  • A creditor claiming to be owed $62 million files to foreclose on Granby Ranch.
  • Edmonton urban gondola backers release robust ridership projections.
  • A gondola from Boise to Bogus Basin would be too long and cost too much to be practical.

 

News Roundup: Experimental

News Roundup: Switching Sides

  • Gould Academy sells the naming rights to its T-Bar at Sunday River to Alera Group, an employee benefits firm.
  • Ski Bluewood’s former platter lift can be yours for $19,000.
  • To celebrate new carpool and transit initiatives, Crystal Mountain debuts a green gondola cabin.
  • Does the public have the right to know what individual ski resorts pay the federal government for use of public lands?  Vail Resorts and the National Ski Areas Association argue no.
  • The New York Times visits Woodward Park City in its first week of operation.
  • Sun Valley and Snowbasin prepare for their first peak period after switching from Mountain Collective to Epic.
  • The Saddleback deal won’t close on Monday as scheduled but hopefully sometime in January.
  • A religious group wants to relaunch the long-abandoned Moab Scenic Tram.
  • The Meier family assumes full ownership of Greek Peak and Toggenburg Mountain in New York.
  • Colorado Ski Country USA launches a chairlift safety video series.
  • The latest Wir Magazine highlights Bromont’s big combination lift, the history of Doppelmayr in Canada and new scale models from Jägerndorfer.

News Roundup: Bailout

  • The Forest Service approves issuance of a special use permit for Mountain Capital Partners to operate Elk Ridge.
  • Another new ski resort opens in North Korea with more lifts that look like knockoffs of a certain European manufacturer.
  • Arctaris plans to close on Saddleback December 23rd, but a last minute call for donations raises some questions.  A detachable quad is no longer planned but rather fixed grip lift replacements.
  • Disney’s Riviera Resort, the only hotel with its own dedicated Disney Skyliner station, opens Monday.
  • Facing repeated annual losses and falling skier visits, Spirit Mountain gets a bailout from the City of Duluth.
  • Sasquatch Mountain names its new Leitner-Poma quad Yeti Cruiser.
  • The nonprofit which operates Sky Tavern receives a new lease despite objections from nearby Mt. Rose.
  • New Sea to Sky Gondola cabins arrive in Squamish.
  • The Forest Service begins review of Lutsen Mountains’ possible expansion onto public land.
  • Crystal Mountain, BC may not reopen this season as hoped.
  • Utah’s 15th ski area launches tomorrow.

Arctaris Impact Fund Agrees to Buy Saddleback

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Four years after being shuttered by well-intentioned but frustrated owners, Maine’s Saddleback Mountain finally has new hope.  Boston-based Arctaris Impact Fund agreed this week to buy the mountain and begin preparations to reopen what was once the state’s third largest resort.  The 59 year-old mountain is one of New England’s best which has seen more than its fair share of setbacks having nothing to do with the quality of the skiing.  “This beautiful mountain has so much potential and it looks like the buyer has a strong plan moving forward,” said Dawn Klein, real estate broker for the Berry Family.  “We are excited for the acquisition to be complete for the Saddleback Resort community and the entire Rangeley area.”

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In 2008, Saddleback’s trail map showed six planned new lifts.

Bill and Irene Berry purchased Saddleback back in 2003 and spent some $40 million to build a new base lodge, South Branch lift, Kennebago quad and more.  By 2015, the family was unable to obtain financing for replacing the Rangeley double, without which the ski resort would go out of business.

The years since have been difficult for the Berrys, the Rangeley community and everyone who loves Saddleback.  In June 2017, an Australian investor named Sebastian Monsour revealed plans to purchase the mountain at a base lodge press conference.  His Majella Group intended to replace Rangeley with a fixed-grip quad and Cupsuptic with a T-Bar, both from Doppelmayr.  Majella and the Berrys never closed and no new lifts were installed.

Arctaris came on the scene after two more years of closure, signing a non-binding letter of intent to purchase the resort.  The fund specializes in providing capital to growth-oriented businesses in inner cities and under-served rural regions across the United States.  This September, both sides issued statements lamenting that negotiations had stalled.  So it’s fantastic news that the two sides have now reconciled and signed an agreement.

The calendar says November and significant work lies ahead, making a quick reopening unlikely.  While the highest and lowest elevation lifts are modern fixed-grip quads that saw some maintenance work during the closure, three lifts loading near the main base lodge average 56 years old and may need to be replaced.

Here’s to a speedy closing and lifts spinning some time in 2020.

Update 11/8: Andy Shepard, who will be the new general manager, said in an interview that two new lifts are planned to be built next summer: a high speed quad version of Rangeley and a T-Bar replacement for Cupsuptic.  Closing is scheduled for mid-December and reopening planned for between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2020.

News Roundup: Answers

News Roundup: Big Picture

 

News Roundup: Italian American

    • The Edmonton Ski Club and its Mueller T-Bar will reopen this winter following a one year hiatus.
    • The developer of Big Snow America is so confident in the American Dream project that it offered the Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall as collateral to secure a $2.8 billion construction loan.
    • Investors and Berkshire Bank battle over whose claim to the Hermitage six pack should take precedent.
    • The White River National Forest extends public commenting for the Breck Peak 7 Infill chairlift project to September 1st.
    • The Forest Service approved Aspen Mountain’s Pandora expansion awhile ago but the county still needs to approve necessary zoning.
    • SilverStar adds 24 hour security, surveillance cameras and enhanced line checks in the wake of the Sea to Sky Gondola downing.
    • TransLink’s CEO says the proposed Burnaby Mountain tricable gondola would be less susceptible to such an attack.
    • Grouse Mountain gives all Sea to Sky Gondola passholders free lift access through November 30th.
    • S2S cleanup will take awhile and trails remain closed for public safety.
    • Swiss manufacturer Bartholet shows it’s possible to build a new fixed quad in just three weeks.
    • Jaegerndorfer now exports Omega V cabins in miniature form to the United States.
    • Aspen Snowmass will add chairs to lifts at Highlands and Snowmass to address Ikon Pass crowding concerns.
    • Skytrac will manufacture towers for and install the new Leitner T-Bar at Ski Cooper.
    • This profile demonstrates why the Kaiser S2 excavator is so popular for ski lift construction.
    • MND Group, owner of LST Ropeways, says it has resolved “financial difficulties” by reorganizing its debt.
    • Doppelmayr names Jürgen Pichler its new global marketing chief.
    • It looks like Sunday River’s Locke Mountain triple will gain a tower or two thanks to the new T-Bar that crosses under it.
    • Arctaris Impact Fund hosts a community meeting and announces its intention to close on the purchase of Saddleback come early November.
    • Big Sky and Loon Mountain will launch the world’s first dual frequency RFID lift access system in partnership with Axess.
    • With a new detachable quad under construction, Bogus Basin caps a five year turnaround.
    • Alpine Media display screens will go live on more chairs this winter.
    • Big Burn at Snowmass may be replaced with a bubble lift.

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News Roundup: Norway

  • Arctaris Impact Fund still wants to buy Saddleback but no deal has been reached after more than a year.
  • The Banff-Norquay gondola project faces stiff headwinds from Parks Canada.
  • The latest podcast from Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz highlights how the company takes over operations at newly-acquired resorts.
  • A judge rejects the Hermitage Club’s proposed restructuring plan as members look to reopen under new management.
  • In other Hermitage news, a New Jersey bank seeks to repossess 46 snow guns.
  • Here is the complete incident narrative from the February SeaWorld gondola deropement.
  • Lift construction gets underway at Skeetawk, America’s first all-new ski area since Cherry Peak in 2015.
  • Village construction resumes at Tamarack with Wildwood Express installation to follow this fall.
  • A helicopter delivers most of the new Steamboat gondola towers.
  • Last week’s gondola incident at Vail was not a result of tampering or sabotage.
  • Medellín’s sixth urban gondola, Line P, is on track to open in December.
  • After 1,231 days as Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area, the Badger Pass name returns thanks to a $12 million settlement between the National Park Service and two competing concession companies.
  • I spoke too soon on Eaglecrest possibly building Alaska’s first gondola.  Icy Strait Point on Chichagof Island is planning a gondola project to open as soon as next summer.
  • The haul rope is spliced for a rare fixed grip chondola in Illinois.
  • Mi Teleférico in La Paz broke its own daily record again on Monday with 583,841 riders, more than average weekday ridership for Boston’s three subway lines combined.

  • Municipally-owned Great Bear resorts to private fundraising in hopes of replacing its Borvig chairlift.
  • Placer County leaders will vote Tuesday on the Squaw-Alpine gondola.
  • Simon Fraser University steps up its Burnaby Mountain gondola marketing.
  • The Los Angeles Griffith Park gondola study is underway.
  • Eagle’s Rest 2.0 nears completion at Jackson Hole.

News Roundup: A Long Time Coming