- Pebble Creek joins the growing list of ski areas spinning extra lifts for the Great American Eclipse but there’s one problem: lifts weren’t designed for downloading so guests must walk down!
- The Weather Channel and the BBC will broadcast live from the top of the Jackson Hole Tram on eclipse day.
- Disney and Doppelmayr are building a gondola station in the middle of a lake.
- Mayor of Rossford, Ohio wants to build a gondola across the Maumee River to Toledo.
- Albany gondola idea moves along.
- Metal fatigue eyed in horrific ride incident at the Ohio State Fair (additional photos of the break are here.) The Fair’s SkyGlider chairlift was not involved but temporarily shut down as a precaution.
- Leitner-Poma will build two new lifts at Arapahoe Basin over the next two years. A 400′ Telecorde surface lift called Lazy J Tow will go in this summer to access Montezuma Bowl while the Beavers fixed-grip quad will follow next year.
- Sunshine Village closes again as fire rebounds.
- Intrawest, Mammoth Resorts and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows are now one company owned by KSL, the Crown Family of Aspen Skiing Co. and Rusty Gregory. Currently known as Hawk Holding Company, LLC, a new name and brand will be introduced this fall.
- Rescuers in boats and ladder trucks assist with dramatic evacuation of a bi-cable gondola over the The Rhine in Cologne, Germany.
- Bill Brett, retired GM of Timberline writes about rime and how Palmer almost became Riblet’s first detachable.
- Snowbasin gets an A+ for its latest lift construction update.
- Arizona Snowbowl begins work on its third new lift in three years.
- Gravity is a crazy way to remove an old haul rope.
- Skytrac takes the Instagram plunge.
- Pair of investors nears deal to reopen Cockaigne, NY in 2018-19, a mountain with four Hall lifts that closed in 2011.
- Leitner Ropeways to build a unique two-section gondola in Austria with a single direct drive powering two separately-tensioned haul rope loops.
- Grand Canyon Escalade bill to finally go before the Navajo Nation Council this fall.
- Gulmarg Gondola reopens 39 days after fatal tree accident.
- Doppelmayr inaugurates the first 3S gondola in China with another on the way.
In 2008, a 53-year old Taos Ski Valley welcomed snowboarders for the first time in a move that once seemed unthinkable. Then a game-changing new lift up 12,481’ Kachina Peak debuted in 2015, serving terrain accessible only by hiking for six prior decades. This season, the renaissance continued with the opening of the slopeside Blake Hotel and announcement that Taos would be the first ski resort in the world to become a B Corporation, joining the likes of Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s. Now we learn Taos will launch a re-imagined beginner facility with two new lifts next season and will finally join 167 of its North American counterparts with the opening of its first detachable quad in 2018. Talk about a transformation.
This off-season will see complete renewal of the beginner complex with the removal of two lifts and the addition of two new ones. Stadeli doubles Rueggli (1991, the old lift 2) and Strawberry Hill (1970) will be retired and the area around them re-contoured. A new Skytrac fixed-grip triple will better serve beginners and a six-passenger pulse gondola will link a remodeled children’s ski school to the Resort Center. “This gondola is going to be a huge improvement, connecting our newly designed Children’s Center with our new hotel and plaza base area,” Director of Operations John Kelly told me. “The terrain associated with these new lifts will be getting a full redesign and regrade to widen and enhance our beginner terrain.” The new lifts are in addition to the Pioneer lift, a triple chair that arrived from Deer Valley in 2012.
Rising to mid-mountain, a Leitner-Poma high-speed quad will replace lifts 1 and 5 in 2018. The 2010 Taos Master Plan envisioned a 7000′ detachable rising all the way to the summit and replacing Lift 6 as well, but that plan appears to have been modified. The long-awaited foray into detachable lifts follows construction of five new Poma and Skytrac fixed-grips at Taos since 1989. What may be called Al’s Express will most likely reach the summit of the existing lift 5, a 1973 Stadeli double chair that only operates on peak mornings. The new lift will also replace Lift 1, a 1989 Poma Alpha quad that ends 400 feet lower than 5 and serves as today’s primary out-of-base lift. After 2018, the remaining largest ski resorts in North America without a detachable lift will be Red Mountain, 49 Degrees North, Loveland and Bridger Bowl.
This will be the first joint project since Skytrac joined the Leitner-Poma Group last spring and plays to both companies’ strengths. Skytrac will supply the fixed-grip chair while Leitner-Poma will bring its expertise to build the gondola and detachable.
Even after these changes, Taos will retain three classic Stadeli lifts on the upper mountain. Lift 6 dates back to 1976 and 7A was installed in 1990 with used parts from 1 and 2. Maxi’s (lift 7) is a 1984 Stadeli triple. Both lifts 4 and 7 are identified for eventual replacement in the 2010 Taos Master Plan along with a second lift to the ridge. I think Taos skiers (and snowboarders) will find the new lifts a welcome change with friendlier beginner options and a 4.5 minute ride to the heart of the mountain. Welcome to the 21st century, Taos!
- Oakland Zoo’s California Trail gets North America’s first safari-style Omega cabins.
- Vail purchase could mean replacements for Toll House, Lookout and Mountain at Stowe.
- Denver station reports new complaint filed against Ski Granby Ranch last week, though details are sparse.
- Hesperus Ski Area voluntarily closes, possibly for the season following unannounced visit by Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board inspectors. Hesperus similarly closed for a season in the mid-1990s after being found to be running the same lift without an operator.
- Cherry Peak finally opens Sundays, still has not completed promised Summit lift.
- Setbacks pile up for the Grand Canyon Escalade.
- Emirates Air Line ranked highest in customer satisfaction among Transport for London modes and is the only one to turn a profit.
- Sweden once had a material cableway that stretched 26 miles.
- Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, taking a beating on social media, explains why the Headwall lift has been closed all but 16 days so far this year.
- Mexican city of Zacatecas seeks to re-hang its old tramway cabins, further delay execution of its contract with Poma for a new gondola system.
- Urban gondola story makes the front page of the Seattle Times.
- The new urban aerial tram in Brest, France is a hit, seeing 6,000 rider days.
- Whistler Blackcomb’s Master Development Agreements renewed and Master Plan approved.
- Suit seeks at least $75,000 from Sugar Mountain, where a teenager apparently went around a bullwheel at closing time, became stranded and jumped from a chair overnight last season. edit: Resort says rescuers were close by when teen jumped.
- The Georgetown-Rosslyn Gondola idea lives to fight another day.
- Outside profiles James Coleman and his commitment to improving the ski experience at five Southwestern resorts.
- Snow King Mountain abandons plans for East side lift, will try for backside lift instead.
For the first time, Skytrac has posted lift projects in advance of construction on its “A Skytrac Near You” page, revealing two older fixed-grip lifts in the Pacific Northwest will be replaced this off season.
At Mt. Baker, Washington, the Chair 7 fixed-grip quad will be removed and swapped with a modern, galvanized 250-horsepower Skytrac quad. Seven is 2,349′ long and rises 579′ out of the White Salmon base area. Although only middle-aged by North American standards, the 1990 quad chair is a so-called “orphaned lift” as a late-model Riblet. Keep an eye out for its sister ship, Chair 8, to also be up for replacement in the next few years. Mt. Baker’s four newer Doppelmayr CTEC fixed-grip models should be safe for years to come, as long as the ski area holds out on building a detachable. Keep in mind, any lift decision at Baker weighs the fact that lifts run on diesel fuel full time. The new seven will be Skytrac’s third project in Washington, following on the heels of a new Chair 6 at Crystal Mountain and Rampart at The Summit at Snoqualmie.
Five volcanoes to the south, Skytrac apparently also won the bidding to swap the Buttercup beginner double chair with a 100-horsepower Monarch fixed-grip quad at Mt. Hood Meadows. Yan built the existing double chair in 1979, making it Meadows’ fourth oldest lift. Buttercup is only 920’x 122′ and has height adjustable terminals at both ends. The new lift will be Skytrac’s first in Oregon.
Skytrac Lifts, acquired by Leitner-Poma in April, specializes in building sub-500 horsepower fixed-grip chairlifts at its facility in Salt Lake City. These two new quad chairs will be the company’s 27th and 28th complete lifts, following its best year ever supplying eight lifts in 2016. We’ll likely see more additions to the Skytrac project page as the spring progresses and you can keep up on all of North America’s new lift projects for 2017 here. Notably absent from Skytrac’s list is Bridger Bowl’s Virginia City replacement project.
- First LST Ropeways detachable set to finally open in March.
- Silver Mountain’s new owner hints at future new lifts.
- Steamboat paper does a two part story on lift and gondola evacuations.
- Pandora’s lift still in the cards for Aspen Mountain but 1A might come first.
- In France, Poma finalizes contracts to build $121 million urban 3S gondola in Toulouse, $15.6 million jigback in Orléans.
- Arlington says no to Georgetown-Rosslyn Gondola.
- Innsbruck to build $12.7 million D-Line gondola.
- Saddleback effort moves forward, but lifts will not spin this season.
- Al Henceroth of A-Basin explains why he chose a fixed-grip quad for The Beavers.
- Town of Gatlinburg to review Boyne’s design for new Sky Lift tomorrow.
- Leitner-Poma presents gondola technology as a potential solution to downtown traffic in Breckenridge.
- Wildfire tears through $24 million Christchurch Adventure Park in New Zealand, where a Doppelmayr high speed quad opened less than two months ago.
- The Skytrac blog has a cool post about the newest Rainforest Adventures park in St. Maarten and its two hurricane-proof fixed-grip quads.
- South Korea prepares for a Doppelmayr Olympics, Poma signs new contract for a 2022 venue in China.
- Whitewater’s Summit double goes up for sale.
- Poma begins hanging 160 Diamond cabins on Santo Domingo’s two new urban gondolas.
- If anyone’s curious what the pilot who flies your lift towers does in the winter, here’s your answer.
- Austrian skier falls from lift, through car windshield.
- Anakeesta will open the world’s first fixed-grip chondola this summer.
- The Wintry Mix Podcast‘s two latest episodes are worthy listens.
- Skytrac introduces phased lift replacement program.
- Doppelmayr stops work on urban gondola in Venezuela, inks more orders from China and Bolivia.
- Vail-Stowe rumors fly. The Street says no deal, yet.
- Child falls from lift at Ski Sundown. Another drops 26 feet from the Purgatory Village Express.
- CNBC profiles North Korea’s Masikryong ski resort, which has five lifts but apparently no snowplows.
- Gondola eyed to link downtown Boulder with the University Hill neighborhood.
- Ford’s 90-second Super Bowl commercial features a (broken) Hall double.
- Group seeks investors to fund ambitious reopening and expansion of Fortress Mountain, AB with multiple detachable quads.
- Another lift to be replaced with a carpet.
- Skytrac begins construction on two new quad chairs at a new Rainforest Adventures park in St. Maarten.
- The old Casper triple from Jackson Hole won’t debut at Magic Mountain in time for this winter.
- New York hedge fund buys 13 ski resorts from CNL Lifestyle Properties, Enterainment Properties Trust takes Northstar.
- Saddleback Mountain Foundation agrees to purchase Saddleback for $6 million if it can raise enough money.
- Seattle real estate developer buys Silver Mountain.
- Steamboat’s local paper previews the Elkhead Express.
- First cabins fly on the Dominican Republic’s new urban gondola system.
- Doppelmayr’s latest Wir magazine is available.
- Some splice advice from Mountain Wire Rope Services.
- The Black Hawk finds new civilian life with Timberline Helicopters building lifts.
- Powder Mountain makes new lifts official, will become largest ski resort in the United States.
With work wrapping up on 36 new and four used lifts across North America, 2016 will go down as the best year for lift construction since the Great Recession. With Skytrac now a member of the Leitner-Poma Group, the big two manufacturers each supplied exactly the same number of lifts in North America – 17 – with one each for LST and Partek (although Skytrac provided controls for and installed the LST lift.) Doppelmayr and Leitner-Poma also had their best years individually since 2008 and Skytrac its second best in history with five complete lifts and a retrofit terminal for Keystone. These numbers include four gondolas manufactured in Europe by Leitner and Poma installed in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. If only lifts built by Leitner-Poma of America in Grand Junction are counted, Leitner-Poma had its third best year since 2008 with eight new lifts. I call it a tie.
While everyone knows the East had a horrible season last year, the Pacific states actually showed the softest demand for new lifts in 2016. Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California have steadily declined for more than a decade and just three new lifts went in there, the lowest number since at least 2004. The Mountain region saw 12 installations, virtually the same as last year and the second most since 2008. The Rockies also built the biggest lifts in the country – six-packs at Arizona Snowbowl & Big Sky, high speed quads at Steamboat & Vail and a two-stage gondola at Jackson Hole. The Midwest more than doubled last year’s count, achieving its second best year since 2004 with seven new lifts while the East was well below its ten-year average with six new lifts constructed in 2016. The big shocker: Wisconsin built more new lifts in 2016 than any other state or province with three new Doppelmayr quads at Wilmot Mountain, two Leitner-Poma quads at Cascade Mountain and a Skytrac quad at Christmas Mountain Village.
Canada finished right about average with eight new lifts, all built in the eastern provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Horseshoe Resort and Le Relais both added their first six-place detachables, which are sure to be well-received. Look for Western Canada to rebound next year after struggling since the recession. Perhaps most interesting is the four gondolas built for public transportation and tourism in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. I expect growth in Mexico and the Caribbean to continue as the urban ropeway revolution spreads north from South America (and hopefully to the United States!)
Three years into its ownership of Utah’s second largest ski resort, Summit Powder Mountain is making a statement by adding two Skytrac quad chairs to serve new intermediate terrain in Lefty’s drainage and Mary’s Bowl. The new lifts are called Village and Mary’s and will access runs to the south of the existing boundary beginning this winter. Powder Mountain already sprawls an impressive 7,000 acres but has just five lifts, four of them fixed-grips. Expanded uphill options will be welcome news to skiers although these latest additions are mostly about access to Powder Mountain Village and 150 new home sites. I reached out to Powder Mountain for more details about these lift projects and so far they have not gotten back to me. Luckily public records from Weber County provide some info and pictures tell a thousand words.
Skiing off to the south from the Hidden Lake Express this winter you’ll find the bottom of the new Village lift part way down Lefty’s drainage. The Village quad and its new sister lift will be
the first just the third and fourth top drive lifts for Skytrac. Rising 582 vertical feet, Village will sport 16 towers and a capacity of 1,500 pph to start. The chairlift unloads on the ridge between Lefty’s and Mary’s at the heart of the forthoming village. Construction began on the late side for a lift to 9,000 feet in the Wasatch but all concrete work is finished and steel is arriving.
- Packsaddle II at Keystone gets the first Skytrac tension-return station based on the Monarch terminal.
- Searchmont’s 1989 Doppelmayr quad chair will spin this season for the first time in six years. The mountain’s nonprofit owner could not afford to address two service bulletins until now.
- See how urban gondolas are evacuated if the need arises.
- Paris’ first urban gondola will be bigger than London’s.
- With orders from Sandia Peak, the Oakland Zoo and Jackson Hole, CWA has now supplied 2,000 cabins in the United States.
- Fernie flies a winter’s worth of diesel fuel – 5,300 gallons – to the Polar Peak triple by helicopter.
- See tons more photos of LST’s first detachable here.
- 42,584 passengers ride Mexicable in its first two days of operation.
- The Navajo Nation Law and Order Committee votes 5-0 to oppose the Grand Canyon Escalade.
- NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com has the latest on all four of New England’s new lifts.
- The new Doppelmayr DCD Chair will debut in Hochzillertal on one of five D-Line installations to be operating in Austria by the end of the year.
- Winch cables and chairs apparently don’t mix well.
- Doppelmayr posts a video tour of the proposed Wälderbahn next-generation 3S with sections of elevated guideways in place of cables.
- Montana Snowbowl throws in the towel on TV Mountain until next spring.
- Echo Mountain sale closes and the mountain will open in December.