News Roundup: Italian American

    • The Edmonton Ski Club and its Mueller T-Bar will reopen this winter following a one year hiatus.
    • The developer of Big Snow America is so confident in the American Dream project that it offered the Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall as collateral to secure a $2.8 billion construction loan.
    • Investors and Berkshire Bank battle over whose claim to the Hermitage six pack should take precedent.
    • The White River National Forest extends public commenting for the Breck Peak 7 Infill chairlift project to September 1st.
    • The Forest Service approved Aspen Mountain’s Pandora expansion awhile ago but the county still needs to approve necessary zoning.
    • SilverStar adds 24 hour security, surveillance cameras and enhanced line checks in the wake of the Sea to Sky Gondola downing.
    • TransLink’s CEO says the proposed Burnaby Mountain tricable gondola would be less susceptible to such an attack.
    • Grouse Mountain gives all Sea to Sky Gondola passholders free lift access through November 30th.
    • S2S cleanup will take awhile and trails remain closed for public safety.
    • Swiss manufacturer Bartholet shows it’s possible to build a new fixed quad in just three weeks.
    • Jaegerndorfer now exports Omega V cabins in miniature form to the United States.
    • Aspen Snowmass will add chairs to lifts at Highlands and Snowmass to address Ikon Pass crowding concerns.
    • Skytrac will manufacture towers for and install the new Leitner T-Bar at Ski Cooper.
    • This profile demonstrates why the Kaiser S2 excavator is so popular for ski lift construction.
    • MND Group, owner of LST Ropeways, says it has resolved “financial difficulties” by reorganizing its debt.
    • Doppelmayr names Jürgen Pichler its new global marketing chief.
    • It looks like Sunday River’s Locke Mountain triple will gain a tower or two thanks to the new T-Bar that crosses under it.
    • Arctaris Impact Fund hosts a community meeting and announces its intention to close on the purchase of Saddleback come early November.
    • Big Sky and Loon Mountain will launch the world’s first dual frequency RFID lift access system in partnership with Axess.
    • With a new detachable quad under construction, Bogus Basin caps a five year turnaround.
    • Alpine Media display screens will go live on more chairs this winter.
    • Big Burn at Snowmass may be replaced with a bubble lift.

.

Eagle’s Rest Lift Returning to Jackson Hole

eaglesrestsweetwater
The Bridger-Teton National Forest approved construction of a new Eagle’s Rest chairlift along with two possible alignments for Sweetwater in 2015.

The list of firms which have supplied ski lifts to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is impressive: Hall, Willamette, Murray-Latta, Mueller, Riblet, Heron, Doppelmayr, Garaventa CTEC, Lift Engineering, Poma, Doppelmayr CTEC, Garaventa and Leitner-Poma.  This fall, Skytrac Lifts will join the club as it builds a new version of one of Jackson Hole’s inaugural chairlifts from 1965.  The new Eagle’s Rest quad will follow a revised alignment from the original, which was removed to make way for the three station Sweetwater Gondola in 2016.  Running across six towers between the Sweetwater and Bridger gondolas, the new top station will be located near the bottom of Sundance Gully.  Beginner skiers and snowboarders will also be able to reach the lift from the new Solitude Station learning center.

IMG_9434
The new lift will travel just south and uphill of the old one, which was retired in 2016.

Eagle’s Rest will become the third new lift in five years for Jackson Hole, which just concluded its busiest season ever with more than 715,000 skier visits.  The Ikon Pass partner mountain will also add 14 new cabins to Sweetwater, increasing capacity between the base area, Solitude Station and Casper Restaurant by nearly 30 percent.  The new cabins will match the 48 Omega IV 8 LWI models currently in service.  Both the Skytrac quad chair and CWA cabins will be ready for guests this November.

Lookout Pass Announces Quad Project

Online map

Before building lifts on Eagle Peak, growing Inland Northwest ski area Lookout Pass will replace core out-of-base Chair 1 with a Skytrac quad, its first brand new lift in 37 years.  The fixed-grip quad will double uphill capacity on the Interstate 90 side of the mountain and better position Lookout for planned future expansion.  The ski area, which sits at 5,600 feet along the Idaho-Montana border, added three Riblet chairlifts in the early 2000s but all came used via other mountains.

The new Chair 1 will follow the existing alignment and utilize some of the current Riblet towers with a slope length of approximately 2,900 feet and vertical rise surpassing 800 feet.  Lookout’s project is the fourth announced new lift for the State of Idaho in 2019 following commitments by Tamarack Resort and Schweitzer.  Sun Valley recently pushed back its Cold Springs quad project to 2020.

IMG_3855
This 1982 workhorse will be retired at the end of this season and replaced with a Skytrac quad chair.

News Roundup: Back to Work

 

Three New Quads Debut in Utah

IMG_5644
The brand new Homestake Express seen on opening day at Deer Valley.

Utah ski resorts are proving this season that lifts need not be giant to positively impact guest experiences.  I got to visit the state’s three newest chairlifts this week, which are all short but sweet with beginner skiers in mind.

High Meadow Express – Park City Mountain

highmeadow

The High Meadow Express is the centerpiece of re-imagined teaching terrain above Park City’s Canyons Village.  With mellow loading and unloading speeds, a quick ride time and an improved alignment, the high speed quad marks a significant step up from the fixed quad it replaces.  High Meadow Park is now wide open with perfectly pitched beginner trails.  Expanded snowmaking rounds out the freshened up beginner zone.

Homestake Express – Deer Valley Resort

homestake

Homestake Express launched this morning at Alterra-owned Deer Valley, becoming the resort’s 13th detachable quad.  Ride time is now under two minutes between Silver Lake Lodge and Bald Eagle Mountain.  There are only eight towers now, down from 12, freeing up space on the busy Silver Link ski run.  The new Homestake also features slatted backrests for wind resistance.

Snowpine – Alta Ski Area

snowpine

In Little Cottonwood Canyon, the new Snowpine Quad carried its first skiers yesterday.  The Skytrac Monarch was manufactured just 30 miles away in Salt Lake.  While it only has two towers and a dozen chairs, the new lift serves dual functions.  It will provide ski-in, ski-out access to the new Snowpine Lodge, which opens January 30th.  Alta’s first fixed grip quad also provides a beginner-friendly alternative to the surface tow it replaces.  The return terminal is height adjustable for the big snow years.

 

Leitner-Poma & Skytrac to Build New Lifts in Outback Bowl at Schweitzer

DqXR5VkWwAABqMv

The beloved Snow Ghost double will be retired from Schweitzer Mountain Resort next spring after 47 winter seasons, the mountain confirmed today.  In its place, two new chairlifts will service Outback Bowl in improved alignments.  A Leitner-Poma high speed quad will climb through the Kaniksu Woods area with a Skytrac fixed-grip triple servicing the Lakeside Chutes vicinity above.  “Overall, we expect the two chair arrangement to complement our existing lift system and provide better access to some of the most popular terrain at Schweitzer,” says Tom Chasse, CEO of the north Idaho mountain.  Schweitzer completed a similar project on the front side in 2007, replacing 5,500 foot Chair 1 with the Basin Express and Lakeview lifts.

schweitzer 144
Snow Ghost is a very long Riblet double with more than 30 towers.

The detachable quad chair will offer a capacity of 2,400 skiers per hour and rise 1,447 feet in just over five minutes.  The triple chair capacity will be 1,800 per hour with a vertical of 1,360 feet and an 8 minute ride time.  “We’ve seen over the years how a similar two lift system in the South Bowl has been beneficial when we have weather challenges,” said Chasse. “By having the two lifts serving different aspects of the North Bowl, our hope is to combat similar challenges on the backside of the mountain.”  As part of the project, Schweitzer will add gladed terrain and four new runs surrounding the new lifts, which have yet to be named.

News Roundup: Must Read

  • planning document shows Big White has applied to build two lifts east of Black Forest Express called Backcountry and Backcountry Connector.
  • Snow King Mountain’s expansion officially enters the National Environmental Policy Act pipeline.  Proposed lifts are a 1,500 pph gondola with cabin storage, a 3,015′ backside fixed-grip quad, one 679′ T-Bar or platter and two new carpets.
  • The iconic Volkswagen funitel marks 15 years of operation, having delivered over three million vehicles from factory to test track.
  • A proposed urban gondola in Loveland, Colorado would be built by Leitner-Poma with up to five stations.
  • Arapahoe Basin drops its new trail map showing the big Beavers expansion.
  • An avalanche takes out the last tower of a Doppelmayr six-pack in New Zealand.

  • Skytrac is hiring for project foreman and general construction positions.
  • Denver Post alum Jason Blevins, now writing for the Colorado Sun, traces the remarkable ski industry journey of the Mueller family from Vermont to Colorado.  Insights from his must read piece: Tim and Diane Mueller took out a second mortgage on their home to buy Okemo, invested in Catamount before it failed, nearly bought Steamboat and once bid to operate Winter Park.
  • Windham’s retired F lift heads to Greek Peak to upgrade lifts 3 and 5.
  • The New Mexico State Fair will sport a new skyride-style chairlift beginning next month.
  • Alterra Mountain Company hires an Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer from Wall Street and looks to name a Vice President of Planning and Resort Development.
  • Enjoy the most detailed glimpse yet of the world’s longest lift.
  • The name game continues: Wolf Creek’s newest high speed quad is now Charity.
  • One of the world’s oldest high speed quads is going away in favor of a six pack.
  • I’m in New Mexico this weekend checking out as many lifts as I can.  First stop: Taos, where this yet-to-be-named Leitner-Poma detachable quad is the fourth new lift in five years!

Three New Lifts Rise Across the Wasatch

IMG_9319
Vail Resorts is enhancing the beginner experience at Park City Mountain with a new High Meadow teaching zone above Canyons Village, one of three lift projects in the Beehive State.

Utah ski resorts will debut three new chairlifts for the 2018-19 season and although none of them service new terrain, each will make lives better for skiers and snowboarders.  One of my stops this weekend was Park City Mountain, where Vail Resorts announced the creation of a reimagined High Meadow Family Fun Zone back in December.  A new Doppelmayr detachable quad, opened up runs, upgraded snowmaking and candy cabin are coming together above the Red Pine Gondola.  The new lift will have 8 towers, down from 11 on the old CTEC quad, which is sitting under the Cabriolet for now.

Across old town Park City at Deer Valley, another Doppelmayr detachable quad is replacing another CTEC fixed-grip quad.  Highlander Lift Services & Construction is assembling Homestake Express in the existing alignment but again with fewer towers.  I think the new number is eight, down from a dozen in this high traffic area above Silver Lake Lodge.  For its second winter under Alterra, Deer Valley will operate an impressive 13 high speed quads this season.  The 1999 version of Homestake is bound for Utah Olympic Park.

Continue reading

All Systems Go for Mt. Spokane’s Backside Expansion

IMG_8814
Mt. Spokane will debut 279 acres of new terrain and a new lift next winter.  The top bullwheel will spin above this spot in a few short months.

Four American ski resorts will launch major terrain expansions next winter and I got to check out one of them this weekend in Washington State.  New west facing trails at Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park will be serviced by a new Skytrac triple chair topping out at 5,850′.  The nonprofit that runs the resort initially planned to use Bridger Bowl’s retired Alpine lift but wisely axed that plan last winter and solicited bids for a brand new machine.  At this area once owned by Riblet Tramway Company itself, the last new lift was a double chair that opened back in 1977.  Mt. Spokane’s Chair 1 dates even further to 1956, making it the oldest operating chairlift in the country.  With five Riblet doubles still spinning, a modern galvanized triple is sure to stand out along with the new runs.

A growing demand for skiing has led to many new lifts at competing resorts in the Selkirk Mountains during the 14 years it took for Mt. Spokane’s expansion to be approved.  In the nearby Idaho panhandle, Schweitzer Mountain Resort plans to build two new lifts on its backside next summer, Lookout Pass is eyeing another two and so is 49 Degrees North in northeast Washington.  Just across the Canadian border, Spokane favorite Red Mountain hopes to complete the Topping Creek T-Bar this fall.

Continue reading

Smokey Mountain to Replace Entire Lift Fleet

10857369_10152695644881636_6370746598211755909_o
One of Atlantic Canada’s best kept secrets is Smokey Mountain, which will soon sport three new lifts.

A community ski area surrounded by iron ore mines near the Quebec-Labrador border will build as many new lifts as Whistler Blackcomb this summer, though they will be of quite a different variety.  Smokey Mountain Ski Club is set to debut Canada’s first Skytrac, a quad chair where a 1972 Poma double with a floating bullwheel stands today.  The mountain’s Blue lift, a detachable Poma in operation since the 1960s, will be swapped for a brand new Leitner-Poma version.  Another new LPOA platter lift will serve an area known as coaches’ corner and supplement a carpet lift built last year.  Smokey has also retired its Red and Green Poma lifts meaning the entire lift fleet will be renewed by next winter.

smokeymountain

This revitalization has been in the works since at least 2016 but was put on hold due to a downturn in the iron ore market.  The Iron Ore Company of Canada will fund the not-for-profit ski club’s modern and more reliable lift system as part of mitigation for a new site nearby.  Below are some photos from Smokey’s website to memorialize the truly classic Poma lifts which will be missed.

This ambitious project brings the North America new lift count to a potential 48 for 2018.  That number includes at least five Skytrac Monarchs, a dozen Leitner-Poma installations and 21 Doppelmayr machines.