News Roundup: Growing Pains

21 Rescued From Sandia Peak Tramway

The new year started with a long, cold night for a group of Sandia Peak employees. Late on New Year’s Eve, the resort’s aerial tramway stopped midway through a trip due to icing of cables from precipitation and high winds. Twenty passengers in cabin 2 and an attendant in cabin 1 were stuck until early this afternoon. The tram cars are not heated but rescuers were able to climb tower 2 and provide one of the cabins with food, water and emergency blankets. By 2:00 pm, a number of passengers had been lowered down from that cabin and taken off the mountain by helicopter.

The other cabin was not at a tower and the lone occupant took longer to rescue. “We are happy to report that at this time all people needing rescue from the Tram cars have been rescued and are safely at base,” the Bernalillo County Fire Department tweeted just before 4:00 pm. “We still have rescue personnel on the mountain who are hiking out due to difficulty in making access with the helicopter.” Much of the rescue operation was broadcast live on Facebook by the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.

The tram was built by Bell in 1965 and is the fourth longest ropeway in North America. It travels over extremely rugged terrain with no road access for most of its length. The system also stranded riders for a number of hours in August 2020 and dozens of people spent more than 24 hours on the tram in a 1973 mishap.

The ski area, tramway and restaurant announced will remain closed at least until Monday.

News Roundup: Endless Winter

News Roundup: Huge

News Roundup: Skyline

  • Two men want to build an iconic gondola called Skyline along the Chicago Riverfront.
  • Sandia Peak unveils new tram cabins for its 50th anniversary.
  • Sugarloaf updates the public on its summer lift maintenance projects.
  • BMF wins contract for its first 10-passenger gondola to be built next year in Switzerland.
  • The owner of Gletscherjet 3+4 built last summer in Austria say it has already carried 3 million passengers, believed to be a record for a winter lift.  The system is an 8/10 combination lift interlining with a 10-passenger gondola.
  • Poma’s 2015 Reference Book is now online highlighting last year’s projects from around the world.
  • Are Vail Resorts and Powdr Corp. bidding on Eldora?
  • A New Zealand developer will test whether a Whistler-style bike park with its own high speed quad can stand alone without skiing.
  • Doppelmayr and its contractors take responsibility for a construction accident at one of the terminals under construction in La Paz that injured ten people on Saturday.

News Roundup: Hauling

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Caberfae Peaks staff bring tower tubes to the summit of North Peak for a new triple chair.  Thanks to Lawrence W. for the photo.

The Ten Longest Lift Rides in North America

The average lift ride in the United States and Canada takes just under five minutes.  In fact, only about four percent of lifts (fewer than a hundred) take more than ten minutes to ride. You wouldn’t know it hearing the average skier complaining about long and slow lifts at just about any ski area.  Below are the ten longest lifts by actual ride time at design speed.  Of course lifts do not always run at their design speed but this gives a pretty good idea of the longest rides.  Two of the top ten are detachable lifts that are so long that they take more than 15 minutes.

Silver Mountain's Gondola is one of only three lifts on the continent that takes more than 15 minutes to ride at design speed.
Silver Mountain’s Gondola is one of only four lifts on the continent that takes more than 15 minutes to ride at design speed.

1. Burfield Quad – Sun Peaks Resort, BC – 1997 Doppelmayr Fixed-grip quad

9,510 feet at 453 fpm = 21 minutes

2. Cyclone – Sunrise Park Resort, AZ – 1983 Yan Fixed-grip triple

7,982 feet at 450 fpm = 17.7 minutes

3. Gondola – Silver Mountain, ID – 1990 VonRoll 8-passenger gondola

16,350 feet at 1,000 fpm = 16.4 minutes

4. Castlerock – Sugarbush Resort, VT – 2001 Poma fixed-grip double

4,707 feet at 300 fpm = 15.7 minutes

5. Wallowa Lake Tramway, OR – 1968 Hall 4-passenger gondola

9.650 feet at 650 fpm = 14.9 minutes

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North America’s Top Ten Longest Lifts

North America’s top ten longest lifts are all gondolas or aerial tramways and only half of them are directly used for skiing.  Silver Mountain’s Gondola is number one although it is no longer the world’s longest.  Since 2014, that title has belonged to the Bursa Uludag Gondola in Turkey which is a ridiculous 28,871 feet.  This list does not include systems which have multiple haul ropes, such as Blackcomb’s Excalibur, which I consider to be two separate gondolas.

Silver Mountain's VonRoll gondola was the world's longest when it opened in 1990.
Silver Mountain’s VonRoll gondola was the world’s longest when it opened in 1990.

1. Silver Mountain Gondola, Silver Mountain, Idaho – 1990 VonRoll 8-passenger gondola

16,350′ ride time 16.4 minutes

2. Sunshine Village Gondola, Sunshine Village, Alberta – 2001 Poma 8-passenger gondola

14,894′ ride time 12.4 minutes

3. Peak 2 Peak Gondola, Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia – 2008 Doppelmayr 3S tri-cable gondola

14,497′ ride time 9.8 minutes

4. Sandia Peak Tramway, Albuquerque, New Mexico – 1965 Bell 50-passenger tramway

14,338′

5. Silver Queen Gondola, Aspen Mountain, Colorado – 1986 Poma 6-passenger gondola

13,216′ ride time 13.2 minutes

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