- Demolition begins on the only lift in Oklahoma.
- Utah’s new Wasatch Peaks Ranch now includes five lifts but will remain private and members only.
- Skeetawk, Alaska looks at used lifts in Europe for expansion.
- The project to bring a used gondola to Eaglecrest, Alaska is delayed until the 2025-2028 timeframe.
- Ikon Pass profiles a lift operator who has spent 20 years sleeping at the top of Mammoth’s Panorama Gondola.
- Mt. Shasta joins the Powder Alliance.
- Alta Sierra, California struggles to stay in business due to storms and road closures this season.
- Vail promotes the General Manager of Perisher to lead Whistler Blackcomb.
- Alterra names a new President and COO of Crystal Mountain, teases “new and upgraded ski lift infrastructure” and “the potential for expanded terrain.”
- Schweitzer lists Musical Chairs for sale.
- Two new investors take ownership stakes in Windham Mountain, promising new investment.
- An April update on Loon Mountain’s South Peak expansion.
News Roundup: Chair Sale Season
- Jackson Hole takes initial steps toward adding Rock Springs and Green River canyons to its permit area, eyes new Sublette and Lower Sublette lifts.
- A California winery’s new D-Line gondola marches toward opening.
- Keystone confirms Bergman Bowl construction is a go to resume this summer and Rad Smith will paint an all-new Keystone trail map.
- Schweitzer’s upcoming detachable quad will be called Creekside Express.
- Utah Olympic Park christens its new high speed quad called Game Changer.
- Mission Ridge loses a lawsuit seeking $6 million from the county it operates in over an expansion dispute.
- MND wins a $106 million contract to supply equipment for a new ski resort in Uzbekistan including an 80 passenger aerial tramway, 10 passenger gondola, two chairlifts, six conveyor lifts, a mountain coaster, zip lines and avalanche safety systems.
- Attitash will auction chairs from the outgoing Summit Triple. Snowriver too.
- Software provider Entabeni Systems acquires Indy Pass, will cap sales next year and issue direct-to-lift cards.
- Mountain Division President James O’Donnell and Whistler Blackcomb COO Geoff Buchheister both leave Vail Resorts effective today. Buchheister is named CEO of Aspen and Bill Rock will become the new Mountain Division President at Vail.
- Crabbe Mountain explains recent lift down time.
- Paradise at Powder Mountain closes indefinitely due to a maintenance issue.
Base Camp at Schweitzer to Debut with New High Speed Quad
The most significant infrastructure project in the history of Schweitzer Mountain Resort is underway and will see its first new chairlift next summer. Dubbed Base Camp, the all-new day skier portal will eventually feature a 1,400 parking spaces, a day lodge, access road, three new lifts and trail connections to Schweitzer’s existing terrain. As Idaho’s largest ski area, Schweitzer already offers nearly 3,000 acres of skiing. However, the Inland Northwest region is growing rapidly and guests today funnel through one base area. “To keep up with demand and continue providing an exceptional guest arrival experience, we prioritized looking for solutions that directly affected parking and mountain access,” explained Mountain Operations Director Rob Batchelder. “I’m very excited about this third phase of Master Plan development and believe Base Camp is a unique solution intended to get people on the mountain efficiently,” he continued.
Schweitzer placed a deposit with Leitner-Poma in the spring for a new detachable quad to replace the Musical Chairs double in 2023. The high speed lift will service beginner terrain and provide egress from the future base area to the current village. A skier bridge across Schweitzer Creek will be built simultaneously with the new, longer lift. “The installation of a high-speed detachable quad will be a major enhancement for all of our guests,” said Batchelder. “Not only will it be easier for beginner skiers and riders to load and unload, the new lift will increase capacity to 2,400 guests per hour, allowing guests to upload and download safer and more efficiently. It will also provide the opportunity to transport foot passengers without skis or snowboards to and from the village, even in summer,” he continued. While the new parking lot and lodge may not be ready for the 2023-24 season, the new lift and first new run will be.
Down the road, a second new detachable will connect Base Camp to the Stella saddle, separating beginner and village-bound guests from other skiers. This nearly 7,000 foot long lift will also allow day skiers to access the backside of the mountain without the need to ride the popular Great Escape Quad. Plans call for additional snowmaking and lifts as buildout continues. “The vision for Base Camp is to become a dedicated area for our day-guests, perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers and riders, with ample parking and additional rental and SnowSports school facilities,” says Schweitzer’s master plan website. “Across the country, ski resorts have continuously faced challenges associated with growth and increased demand. The new Base Camp project is not only a big deal for our growing community, it’s a big deal for the industry, and as of the last independently owned resorts, Schweitzer’s future is very bright.”
News Roundup: Reopening Day
- Here’s the latest on construction of the first MND/Bartholet detachable in the USA.
- A wide-ranging interview with the Director of MND Ropeways reveals the strength of the North American market, the war in Ukraine’s affect on European steel prices and the latest on the MND/Bartholet partnership. If the alliance winds down post-2023, MND would build detachable lifts in house.
- Despite efforts to save it, the Tulsa State Fair announces removal of its VonRoll skyride, citing maintenance and safety concerns.
- The Austrian gondola known as “Old Lady” will be shipped to Alaska at the end of June for installation at Eaglecrest.
- Loveland offers season passholders a chance to own retired Lift 6 chairs.
- Jared Smith will be the next CEO of Alterra Mountain Company as Rusty Gregory steps away from day-to-day management duties.
- Vail Resorts posts Epic Lift Upgrade updates from Attitash, Boston Mills and Mount Snow.
- Stowe’s Epic Lift Upgrade project is finally approved and construction is underway.
- A legal battle continues over whether Christchurch Adventure Park was negligent spreading a wildfire by running a chairlift with plastic seats during a 2017 blaze.
- A Swiss ski resort plans to build one of the world’s steepest tramways with a maximum inclination of 159.4%.
- 49 Degrees North says so long to Bonanza.
- Schweitzer plans to build at least one new lift from its master plan in 2023.
- A report finds corrosion, wear and inadequately monitored twisting led to the failure of a socket on an Italian tram last year and 14 deaths.
- Israel’s supreme court green lights construction of an urban gondola in Jerusalem.
- A 2030 Vancouver Olympics may see Whistler and Sun Peaks as venues.
- The Forest Service needs more time before deciding on Lutsen Mountains’ proposed expansion.
- Fire reaches within a half mile of Sipapu but officials express confidence that containment will hold.
- Mt. Rose’s Lakeview triple heads to Dodge Ridge.
- Maine’s Hermon Mountain hits the market.
- Cockaigne will open next year despite being for sale.
- An Alberta T-Bar will be used to transport alpine coaster vehicles and riders.
- Lenawee Express is the name for A Basin’s first six pack.
- Happy re-opening day to Big Snow American Dream!
News Roundup: Skytrac Upgrades
- New Zealand and Victoria, Australia resorts reopen after extended Covid closures (New South Wales remains locked down.)
- Mt. Spokane will replace the drive terminal of Chair 2 with a new one from Skytrac.
- Skytrac is completing similar mods to Tumbelina at Monarch Mountain.
- The fate of the Pandora’s expansion on Aspen Mountain will be decided October 13th.
- Sierra at Tahoe still doesn’t know the full extent of lift damage from the Caldor Fire but remains optimistic.
- Users get stuck on one of Mexico City’s new gondola lines following an earthquake.
- The Holding family agrees to sell most of Sinclair Oil Corporation’s assets, though Sun Valley and Snowbasin aren’t included.
- The Forest Service issues a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Lutsen Mountains’ proposed expansion with public comments being solicited through October 25th. A new alternative would see the addition of five new chairlifts on Moose and Eagle Mountains rather than the initially planned seven.
- The only lift in Oklahoma won’t open for the second year in a row and is in danger of removal.
- Schweitzer adds 14 chairs to Stella.
- A quick update from Snow King Mountain:
News Roundup: Dollars and Euros
- Blackcomb Glacier won’t host skiing this summer.
- Snow King Mountain sells $150,000 worth of retired chairs in one hour.
- Poma unveils the first 34 passenger cabin for the new urban 3S in Toulouse.
- Okemo’s new lifts will be called Evergreen Summit Express and Quantum Six.
- Former Ticketmaster chief Jared Smith is named President of Alterra overseeing mountain and hospitality divisions.
- The latest on the Stresa-Mottarone disaster:
- Numerous pictures surface showing brakes blocked with passengers aboard as far back as 2014.
- An employee says pre-operational checks were skipped entirely on the day of the crash.
- Two of the three men arrested are released.
- A lawyer for the manager still held alleges Leitner was slow to respond to service calls.
- Leitner was paid €127,000 ($155,000) per year to perform major maintenance on the tram under a long-term contract, though officials do not consider the company or any of its employees suspects.
- The owner of the operating company is also under investigation over two injury incidents on a Wiegand mountain coaster at the facility.
- Eitan, the little boy who survived, is released from intensive care.
- Cannon Mountain opens its tramway for the first time in 14 months.
- Europe’s largest ski operator plans to spend €200 million ($244 million) per year through 2025 to catch up on investments sidelined by the pandemic.
- The Pandora’s expansion on Aspen Mountain notches another approval.
- Anakeesta’s chondola lift breaks down for a bit.
- New Zealand’s first 8 passenger chairlift is complete and she’s a beauty.
- With 35 percent of jobs unfilled, Whitefish Mountain Resort cuts summer operating days.
- Schweitzer raises $80,000 for local charities through the sale of chairs from Snow Ghost.
- The Sea to Sky Gondola outlines some of its security plan.
- Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit (LAART) unveils more on its planned 3S: four stations, three towers, 44 cars and underground cabin storage at Dodger Stadium.
- Steamboat’s gondola building comes down after 35 years.
- Trollhaugen will sell chairs from Chair 1 next week.
- Quebec records 6.1 million skier days in 2020-21, slightly above average.
- The State of Texas commits $10 million towards a replacement Wyler Aerial Tramway in El Paso.
Schweitzer Joins Ikon, Plans Lift Improvements
Idaho’s Schweitzer has signed on to become the 45th Ikon Pass mountain in North America. Ikon Pass holders will enjoy up to 7 days of access at Schweitzer and Ikon Base Pass holders will get 5 holiday-restricted days. Schweitzer’s top tier local passholders will receive an Ikon Base Pass valid at destinations worldwide. “This is a huge win for skiers and snowboarders and for our community,” the resort said in a statement. “We wanted to be able to offer our customers the benefit of a multi-resort pass and joining Ikon Pass allows us to do just that. The Ikon Pass includes premier mountains around the globe, and we are excited to be the newest Ikon Pass mountain destination.”
The partnership with Alterra replaces Schweitzer’s membership in the Powder Alliance reciprocal program, which brought the North Idaho mountain about 5,000 skiers per year over the last seven seasons. Schweitzer says it was the single most-redeemed destination in that alliance.
With Ikon and regional population trends, Schweitzer is planning for continued visitation growth of about 5 to 10 percent over the next couple of years and will make “continued investments to help the mountain to absorb that growth.” This summer, the resort will dedicate more than $250,000 to increase the capacity of the Stella Express by 15 percent (235 people per hour). This will be accomplished by adding 14 new six passenger chairs. The mountain will also debut a $500,000 RFID ticketing system in the fall, enabling direct-to-lift access. Following these projects and the debut of a new slopeside hotel, replacement of the Musical Chairs lift will become the mountain’s next major capital priority. The new high speed quad will span a creek near the current bottom terminal and connect to a parking lot for 1,500 cars.
The mountain’s master plan envisions at least four other new lifts in both Schweitzer and Outback bowls in the years to come.
News Roundup: Visit Numbers
- Woods Valley takes delivery of a used CTEC quad, likely the former Kenny’s Parkway.
- West Mountain considers adding a lift as part of a real estate play.
- Big Snow is a bright spot at the otherwise struggling American Dream mall.
- The Ever Vail project and related gondola plans are dead.
- Mt. Spokane seeks state funding to replace Chair 1 and Chair 2, one of which could be done this summer.
- Mark Brownlie is named Chief Operating Officer of Alterra’s resort portfolio.
- MND wins a $21 million contract to build lifts at a new ski resort in Russia.
- Starting next year, most Big Sky Resort lift tickets, season passes, Ikon and Mountain Collective passes will no longer include access to the Lone Peak Tram.
- Cape Smokey provides an update on Canada’s only new gondola this year.
- Schweitzer introduces a new logo and brand identity.
- Despite losing a significant portion of the season, another Ontario ski area still plans to complete a new chairlift for next season.
- Doppelmayr France is selected to build and maintain a five station urban gondola in Paris.
- Doppelmayr also will build the first urban gondolas in Guatemala.
- Retired cabins from Killington’s K-1 Gondola fan out across the country as dining venues.
- Under new ownership, Sleeping Giant increases visits by 71 percent.
- Vermont skier visits decline 40 percent.
- New Mexico also reports a significant drop in visitation.
- A company called Trident tried to buy Brundage Mountain last year with the intention of creating a much larger resort.
- Here’s a preview of Snow King’s gondola cabins.
- Leitner-Poma seeks employees to help build the new high speed quad at Breckenridge.
- PyxisAI announces a successful beta test of technology designed to alert lift operators when slows or stops might be needed.
- Whitefish Mountain Resort smashes its previous visit record by more than 20 percent.
Amid Growth, Schweitzer Eyes Expansion
With four major lift replacements completed over the last 15 years, North Idaho’s Schweitzer Mountain Resort is looking beyond its boundary for the next phase of on-mountain development. Completed just last summer, phase one of the resort’s 2018 master plan included two key lifts in the North Bowl replacing an outdated double. The mountain also recently completed a gorgeous summit lodge called Sky House and two more chairlifts above its village. Looking ahead, Schweitzer’s two longest lifts to date are planned for opposite ends of the resort.
Privately-held Schweitzer will proceed carefully as growth makes sense. The resort does not participate in a multi-resort pass product but skier visits have grown almost 35 percent over the last 15 years. Current development focuses on the village, including a $35 million boutique hotel under construction. “We have a pretty conservative approach,” notes President and CEO Tom Chasse. “Our business is growing but we want to make sure that we are financially sound and don’t get ahead of ourselves. We also want to maintain a razor sharp focus on improving the overall customer experience with everything that we do.”
Phase three will see the launch of a dedicated day use and ski school portal away from the overnight village. “Growth has been huge the last few years and we need to find solutions for our parking issues and ease the burden on our existing village,” notes Mountain Operations Director Rob Batchelder. “I’m very excited about solving those problems with this third phase of development in the Mid-Mountain area. Physically, we need room to grow and Mid-Mountain does that for us.” The $50 million project will include a day lodge, three dedicated beginner lifts and 6,400 foot detachable chairlift. The latter will include a half mid-station with access to six new intermediate trails. Riders staying on board will gain access to North Bowl without the need to transit the village or ride the busy Great Escape quad.
News Roundup: Wish Lists
- More new trail maps are out with new lifts on them: Brian Head, Jackson Hole, Montana Snowbowl, Schweitzer, Revelstoke and Windham.
- Sea to Sky Gondola turns its parking lot into a drive in theater while rebuild of the lift continues.
- “Boyne is looking at replacing a lot of lifts throughout the whole company and we’re on that list,” says Karl Strand of Sugarloaf in an annual fall update. His wish list includes replacing Timberline, Double Runner, Sawduster and West Mountain.
- Mike Solimano at Killington also has a lift replacement wish list for Powdr.
- Arapahoe Basin plans to replace both Pallavicini and Molly Hogan next summer.
- Sunrise Park says a replacement for the decommissioned Cyclone lift would cost more than $10 million but is a long term goal.
- Hunter will convert its D triple to a double with Partek chairs.
- The Forest Service tentatively approves Arizona Snowbowl’s proposed Agassiz Telemix project.
- An Orlando TV station plays some 911 calls from the night the Disney Skyliner broke down two weeks ago.
- Seven months after an announced sale of Granby Ranch, the ski area still hasn’t changed hands.
- Montana Snowbowl’s long-awaited expansion lift on TV Mountain will be called Snow Park and open in December.
- Sugar Mountain puts the finishing touches on its first high speed quad.