News Roundup: Upper Peninsula

News Roundup: Big Game

News Roundup: Bidding War

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.”

trail_map_0809
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