SilverStar Christens New Gondola with a Party

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Crystal Mountain, Washington.  Lutsen Mountains, Minnesota.  Belleayre, New York and Ski Apache, New Mexico.  Mountains from north to south, east to west and now in Canada are proving there’s no need to be a mega resort to build a great gondola.  SilverStar Mountain Resort joined the club today with the Schumann Summit Express, manufactured by Doppelmayr Canada, which carried its first riders just after 11:00.

The new flagship lift is named after the late Desmond Schumann, an Australian visionary who came to grow both Big White and SilverStar into two of British Columbia’s top ski resorts.  Daughter Jane Cann now presides over SilverStar and rode in the very first cabin, one painted silver in honor of the resort’s 60th anniversary (Jane’s brother, Peter Schumann, heads up nearby Big White, which is also building a new lift this summer).  Doppelmayr’s Jim Anderson presented the customary Austrian-forged bell and spoke along with other dignitaries.  They noted how far SilverStar has come from a local ski hill with one Poma lift and two rope tows into a significant regional and destination resort.

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Cabins in a rainbow of six different colors lift riders from SilverStar’s mid-mountain village to the summit in just 4.4 minutes.  A restaurant will eventually rise where the gondola and two other lifts converge.  The 961′ vertical Summit Express replaces the last of SilverStar’s Mueller lifts, the Summit Double, which faithfully carried riders along a similar route from 1970 until this spring.  The new gondola completes SilverStar’s impressive lift transformation undertaken entirely since Mr. Schumann’s 2001 arrival, when the last of three Lift Engineering quad chairs was replaced.  It is a tale of “build it and they will come.”

Announced 13 months ago, the gondola was uniquely built over two construction seasons.  Concrete foundations and the top drive terminal were installed last fall with construction pausing in November for what turned out to be a very deep winter.  Doppelmayr was back at it as soon as the ski season ended with a tight timeline toward a July 1 opening.  Very late season snow pushed that back a few weeks but no one seemed to care on this perfect July Saturday.  In addition to free gondola rides for the thousands gathered, there was a free community barbecue, dunk tank, bungee trampoline and even a $1,000 cash giveaway.  The celebration proved gondolas are for everybody – from young kids to people with disabilities, the elderly and even pets – to enjoy together.

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News Roundup: Available

  • The latest Doppelmayr Wir highlights Yellowstone Club’s expansion and more.
  • The Gondola Project updates us on the Leitner-Poma tram project at San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower transit center.
  • Aspen Skiing Co. eyes opening the Pandora quad chairlift on Aspen Mountain in 2020.
  • Majella Group CEO Sebastian Monsour tells the Bangor Daily News his Australian company is still working to close on the purchase of Saddleback Mountain while a former employee is suing for unpaid wages.
  • A Montana community grapples with options for Teton Pass, a closed ski resort listed for $650,000 with one SLI double.
  • In advance of its new gondola, Silver Star’s 1970 Mueller is listed for sale on SAM.
  • CWA launches a slick new website and refreshed logo.
  • Val Neigette, Quebec will close for good on April 1st and its 1990 Doppelmayr quad is on the market.
  • An editorial in the Park Record floats the cool idea of a gondola from offsite parking at Kimball Junction to Park City’s Sun Peak zone with a possible mid-station at Utah Olympic Park.
  • Big White’s Powder Chair will soon be available for $150,000 CAD.
  • Alpine Media Technology raises $1 million to bring digital screens to more lifts including Winter Park’s new gondola.
  • SkyTrans hopes to build and operate a $2 million gondola at an Illinois winery.
  • A lawsuit against Sugar Mountain filed by the family of a child who jumped from a lift after closing has been settled.
  • Leitner’s fifth 3S gondola will be a spectacular one with Symphony cabins and a combination gondola/railway/transit station.
  • A Jacksonville, Florida developer proposes a river crossing gondola.
  • What appears to be Walt Disney World’s gondola cabin maintenance facility is taking shape.
  • Instagram suggests the Hermitage Club may have reached a deal to open this weekend following a state-ordered closure.

News Roundup: Back Up

  • Berkshire Bank seeks to foreclose on the Hermitage Club, saying the private ski area owes $16.6 million on $17.1 million in loans taken out between 2014 and 2017.
  • Hunter Mountain apologizes to season pass holders and explains in detail why two of its lifts went down for much of Presidents’ Week.
  • Mt. Snow’s Bluebird Express is down with a damaged gearbox.
  • Similar story for Cypress Mountain’s Lions Express, which reopened on Tuesday.
  • Harmony at Whistler also went down for much of last week..
  • Big Sky’s Six Shooter was rope evacuated last week, sparking an interesting conversation about why that lift turns a few degrees.
  • HeliOps profiles Brian Jorgenson of Timberline Helicopters, who explains why even at $1.50 per second, the UH-60 Black Hawk has become the gold standard for western ski lift missions.
  • The largest urban gondola system in North America will open this May in Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic.
  • Boston’s proposed Seaport gondola has a new route.
  • A conference center in Wisconsin called Forest Springs plans to expand its ski area with a new chairlift.
  • Silver Star’s new gondola is on track for a rare July opening with the top terminal and all foundations complete.

Instagram Tuesday: Wintry

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

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Instagram Tuesday: At Sunset

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

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Instagram Tuesday: Bike

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

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Silver Star Announces New Gondola for 2018

Silver Star Mountain Resort in Vernon, British Columbia will build a Summit Gondola next year, ending a three-year drought for new lifts in the region.  The 8-passenger Doppelmayr will replace the Summit double, a 4,000′ Mueller built in 1970.  The lift will open in July 2018 and serve summer guests before opening to skiers and snowboarders for 2018-19. After the upgrade, Silver Star will operate one of the most modern lift fleets in Western Canada with seven Leitner-Poma and Doppelmayr lifts built since 2002.

A new gondola at Silver Star will complement the Comet Express six-pack with a 4.5 minute ride for both summer and winter visitors in the approximate location of the existing Summit double.

An initial fleet of 21 Omega IV LWI cabins in the five colors of the Silver Star logo will provide an uphill capacity of 1,200 passengers per hour, with the ability to add 22 more to meet future needs.  “These new cabins will whisk guests from the bottom to the top of the summit in a third of the time of the existing double chair,” says Silver Star Director of Operations and Maintenance Brad Baker. “The ride will now take four and a half minutes from village to summit traveling at five meters per second.”  Slope length will be 3,487′ and vertical rise 961′.  In a unique move, all foundations and the top terminal will be completed this fall with the remainder of the lift going in next spring in time to celebrate the resort’s 60th anniversary.  The addition of a gondola is a huge milestone for any resort and Silver Star will be no exception.