News Roundup: A Long Time Coming

Five Mountains Readying Terrain Expansions for 2021-22

Despite an 18 month pandemic, supply chain challenges and continued uncertainty, a handful of US and Canadian ski resorts are putting finishing touches on expansion projects set to debut this winter. Two of these were delayed in 2020 and resumed construction this year while others were actually accelerated during Covid. Many of this year’s projects focus on learning terrain enhancements following the pandemic winter when new and lapsed skiers gravitated toward the mountains.

McCoy Park – Beaver Creek Mountain, Colorado

The lone expansion this year featuring two new chairlifts is Beaver Creek’s McCoy Park, encompassing 250 acres of new high alpine terrain. This beginner zone follows in the footsteps of Haymeadow Park and Red Buffalo Park, which both offer dedicated terrain for new skiers and snowboarders with detachable lifts. The new McCoy Park Express will service 17 trails and the Reunion Quad will provide easy exit from McCoy Park to the Upper Beaver Creek Mountain and Strawberry Park Express lifts.

Lower Juniper – Lake Louise, Alberta

Another beginner-focused expansion featuring a detachable quad is underway at Lake Louise. The new Lower Juniper Express is the second new chairlift here in two years. It will access four new low intermediate trails and provide an alternate out-of-base option to access the upper mountain.

Sunny Side – Snow King Mountain, Wyoming

Shadowed somewhat by construction of a new 8 passenger gondola on the front side of the mountain, Sunny Side at Snow King Mountain will also open this winter. This new backside bowl features extensive snowmaking and a Skytrac fixed grip quad.

Buzzsaw – Searchmont, Ontario

Searchmont hasn’t hosted a single day of skiing since March 2020, which makes its terrain expansion even more remarkable. New owner Wisconsin Resorts took delivery of two Skytrac triples last year, one of which replaced an existing Borvig double. The second lift sat in storage last winter and is now being installed to service two brand new beginner trails.

Merrill Hill – Sunday River, Maine

2021’s only New England expansion is a ninth peak at Sunday River. Merrill Hill features four ski trails and 23 new home sites near the South Ridge base area. This low angle zone will be serviced by a new Doppelmayr fixed grip triple, the mountain’s 15th chairlift.

News Roundup: Firm Orders

News Roundup: So Close

News Roundup: October Turns

  • Skiing is open this weekend in Alberta, Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey Ontario and Wisconsin!
  • Garibaldi at Squamish releases new renderings of what could be a $3.5 billion project.
  • Searchmont holds off on making snow, offering lodging or selling passes and will only install one of the two Skytrac lifts it ordered due to Coronavirus.
  • In a rare interview, John Cumming tells the story of Powdr.
  • Big Snow and American Dream post promising attendance numbers after reopening.
  • The latest capacity management video from SAM and Snow Operating focuses on lift capacity math in the Covid era.
  • With two operating and five more under construction, Mexico’s capital region considers building even more urban gondolas.
  • The gondola network in Puerto Vallarta appears complete but surrounding theme parks and hotels have a long way to go.
  • Skeetawk has a trail map and will open for the very first time December 5th.
  • Only one of Shanty Creek Resorts’ two Michigan ski areas will open this winter.
  • Following the death of its owner, Granite Gorge does not plan to operate this year.
  • Frustrated at lack of investment, local business owners look into buying Mont-Sainte-Anne from Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.
  • A three gondola system connecting various points in Park City would cost an estimated $64 million to build with $3.5 million in annual operating costs.
  • The Freedom Pass comes back but with fewer participating resorts than in years past.
  • With revenue down eight figures, the Palm Springs Tramway takes out a $15 million loan.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron orders the country’s ski resorts closed until at least December 1st due to rising coronavirus cases.
  • Of 6,521 comments the Utah Department of Transportation received on Little Cottonwood Canyon options, 78 percent were pro-gondola.
  • Granby Ranch will reopen under new management December 11th with more than $1 million invested in lift maintenance and snowmaking.
  • Soldier Mountain gives another fire recovery update.
  • Technical Safety BC releases an incident report and technical analysis from the latest Sea to Sky Gondola incident (both are heavily redacted so as not to impede the ongoing criminal investigation.)
  • Camelback’s new Sunbowl Quad nears completion.

News Roundup: Going Virtual

Searchmont to Install Two New Lifts

Ontario’s Searchmont Resort will add two Skytrac triple chairs this summer as part of a major modernization. US-based Wisconsin Resorts purchased Searchmont in 2018 from a public economic development agency and promised to make significant capital investments. The longer of the two lifts will replace the mountain’s original double chairlift, built in 1972. The double ran up the center of the mountain and was one of the last remaining Borvig lifts in Canada (only eight remain now.) Chairs from the lift are being sold tomorrow on a first come, first served basis for CA$200 apiece.

A second new triple chair will service a dedicated beginner area, which Searchmont lacks currently. This lift will be 2,000 feet long and open new terrain west of current trails. Combined, the lifts will cost US$2.6 million and will be installed by local contractors. An existing Doppelmayr quad chair and a Blue Mountain triple chair will remain in service as well.

Searchmont is one of four mid-sized ski areas in North America installing more than one new chairlift this summer. The others building two are Arapahoe Basin, Colorado, Gore Mountain, New York and Timberline Mountain, West Virginia.

News Roundup: Rope Time

  • Searchmont, Ontario sells to Wisconsin Resorts, the firm behind Pine Knob, Mt. Holly and Ski Bittersweet in Michigan as well as Alpine Valley, Wisconsin.
  • Mike Solimano of Killington reveals what three lifts he would upgrade if given $100 million to spend at The Beast.
  • The new Winter Park gondola is creatively named Gondola.
  • Grand Junction’s NBC affiliate takes viewers inside the factory where Leitner-Poma lifts are created.
  • The two stage Blackcomb Gondola is almost finished; thanks Max for these pictures.

  • Next up for Ramcharger 8 at Big Sky: installation of an in-terminal video wall and the haul rope, which is going up right now.
  • Beech Mountain commissions its twin fixed grip quads.
  • Freeskier looks at Alterra’s whirlwind growth and future trajectory.
  • Rope pulling commences tonight at Walt Disney World, 24 years to the day since the Disneyland Skyway cable was taken down for good.
  • This week’s new trail map comes from Hunter Mountain.
  • In an act of sabotage, someone cuts into three haul ropes at a Pyrenees ski resort.

News Roundup: Huge

News Roundup: The People