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!
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News Roundup: Needs

  • Mt. Sunapee plans to install the former Sunbowl quad in place of the North Peak triple and move that lift to the other side of North Peak as early as 2019.
  • There are now four Snow King Mountain master plan alternatives; all include a base-to-summit gondola and three have a new backside chairlift.
  • The first fly day of 2018 title goes to SilverStar, Doppelmayr and Vancouver Island Helicopters.
  • A top ramp incident at Wachusett Mountain apparently leads to a $72,000 verdict.
  • The approved Mt. Baldy tram at Alta remains contentious and may never happen.
  • In hot and dry Arizona, officials close large swaths of National Forest including all outdoor summer activities at Arizona Snowbowl until further notice.
  • The asking price for Blacktail Mountain is $3.5 million.
  • As BMF builds its first detachable lift in Iran, the Swiss company says it has no interest in the U.S. market.
  • OSHA proposes $64,673 in fines for 15 violations identified during the investigation into Loveland lift mechanic Adam Lee’s death.
  • West Mountain needs a Poma return terminal and eight quad gauge towers in order to complete its third new lift of the decade.
  • When Alta’s reimagined Snowpine Lodge opens in January, you will be able to get there on a dedicated Skytrac chairlift.

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News Roundup: Last Call

  • No ticket, no card.  You can now ride lifts using only your phone at Sunshine Village.
  • Berkshire East owners buy Catamount with summer business and upgrading aging infrastructure on the agenda.
  • U.S. skier visits decline 2.8 percent for 2017-18 with the Midwest and Southeast up year-over-year, the Northeast flat and the Rockies, Pacific Northwest and Southwest regions down.
  • New lift construction is nonetheless pacing 25 percent ahead of last year and 43 points above this date in 2016.
  • Quebec area Val Neigette closes for good with its Doppelmayr quad chairlift headed to an unknown Ontario mountain to cover outstanding debt.
  • Mi Teleférico is apparently in talks to build dozens more urban gondolas in La Paz between 2020 and 2030.
  • The Balsams project faces a key state vote on May 21st.
  • Add Nashville to the list of US cities considering public transport gondolas.
  • Boyne Resorts closes on its purchase of seven mountain resorts, bringing its owned and operated portfolio to ten across North America.
  • Jackson, Wyoming stakeholders mostly agree to site a new gondola in a public park at the base of Snow King Mountain.
  • Loveland will hold a lottery for season passholders to win purchase rights for Lift 1 chairs.
  • The final last chair for the Norway lift at A-Basin is Sunday.

News Roundup: Timelines

  • The Staten Island Economic Development Corporation secures $212,000 to study the feasibility of a gondola connection to Bayonne, New Jersey.
  • The Forest Service green lights Alta’s big plans for a new Baldy tram, Flora lift, Wildcat detachable and replacement for Sunnyside.
  • The Colony’s master plan now includes two new lifts along Pinecone Ridge at the center of Park City Mountain.
  • Copper is selling parts from the Flyer and the Eagle detachables.  Must act fast!
  • Crested Butte says the three lift Teo 2 expansion, if approved, would likely be built over approximately five years.
  • Snow King’s gondola and terrain expansion public process moves along at a glacial pace.
  • Mountain Capital Partners, the company behind Arizona Snowbowl, Hesperus Pajarito, Purgatory and Sipapu, will operate Nordic Valley and add it to the Power Pass.
  • Doppelmayr breaks ground for its eleventh cable-propelled automated people mover, set to open in 2021.
  • Spokane’s paper traces the history of three lifts that have graced Riverfront Park, including a new gondola.
  • The Forest Service seeks feedback on Arizona Snowbowl’s chondola proposal.
  • An ice storm apparently causes a track rope to jump out of a saddle at Jay Peak, closing the tram and nearby lifts indefinitely.
  • As legal wrangling continues, nothing seems out of the ordinary this week at the Hermitage Club except for notices on the clubhouse doors.

News Roundup: Express

  • Both Doppelmayr and Leitner-Poma show off gondolas at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions expo in Orlando.
  • A startup venture is restoring Hall, Riblet and Heron-Poma chairs for sale online.
  • Snow King Mountain says the outcome of a rent dispute with the Town of Jackson could affect its ability to replace Summit with a gondola.
  • Afton Alps ditches Lift 8, a 1969 Heron triple, for a terrain park.
  • Re: Saddleback sale, an investigative report by the Portland, Maine NBC station concludes, “the money isn’t there” and “the deal could fall apart entirely.”
  • Killington switches from a James Niehues-painted trail map to a VistaMap this year; Whiteface and Belleayre ditch VistaMap for Kevin Mastin paintings.  Gunstock goes from a computer-generated map to a James Niehues one and Mt. Snow does the opposite.
  • The first lift sporting Leitner Ropeways’ new station design is almost finished.

  • A county supervisor in San Diego who gets gondolas does a great interview about them.
  • Aspen-affiliated KSL resort group to have a name by Christmas, launch a new pass product next year and continue participating in the Mountain Collective.
  • Doppelmayr releases fiscal 2016/17 global results: project count up 2.9 percent to 106, employee headcount up 1.8 percent to 2,720, revenue down 4 percent to €801 million ($948 million.)
  • T minus 14 days ’til Vail Resorts reveals preliminary lift plans for next year.

News Roundup: Playing Field

  • 14-cabin 3S proposed to cross Lake Zurich in Switzerland.
  • The second tallest building west of the Mississippi will include an aerial tram-like system built by Leitner-Poma.
  • BMF will build its first gondola in France and seventh gondola overall this summer near Alp d’Huez.
  • Mi Teleférico breaks ground today for its 13th and 14th gondolas. The four station, 159 cabin Sky Blue line will join the Red, Yellow, Green and Blue lines already operating and the Orange, White and Purple lines under construction.
  • North Korea is building a second ski resort.
  • Liberty Mountain delays J-Bar replacement project, saying in a statement, “We had hoped to put the triple chair in this summer but unfortunately it will not be happening…We are still planning on making this change in the future.” Liberty acquired one of Ascutney’s CTEC triples in 2013.
  • Aspen Mountain turns back toward a longer and lower 1A detachable.
  • As state-owned Belleayre becomes the smallest North American ski resort ever to build a gondola, New York Ski Blog calls for low-interest infrastructure financing for 45 privately-owned mountains in the Empire State.
  • The Jay Peak Tram is back with many upgraded components after a spring full of hard work.  Interestingly, new controls are from Doppelmayr rather than Frey.
  • Black Hawk flies old Montezuma towers off Dercum Mountain at Keystone.
  • Marshall Mountain, MT can be yours for $2.95 million, including a 1972 Thiokol triple and an uninstalled 1969 Hall double from Grand Targhee.
  • Snow King gondola plan advances.
  • No visible work at Saddleback yet.
  • Nonprofit contracts SE Group to study the feasibility of reopening an alpine ski area on the site of the former Colby College ski area in Maine.  Here’s how it looked in 2012:

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News Roundup: Setbacks

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Snow King’s latest master plan concept abandons a lift east of Rafferty in favor of a south-facing lift.  The Summit double would be replaced with an 8-passenger gondola.

Snow King Outlines Gondola & More

There aren’t many ski resorts that lose $200,000 in a good winter. That’s the loss Snow King Mountain projects for the next four months as it struggles to find a sustainable operating model in downtown Jackson, Wyoming.  The ski area opened in 1939, decades before its more famous neighbors even existed.  Snow King’s alpine slide, opened in 1978, sees many times more riders in the summer than the entire mountain attracts each winter.  Beginner and intermediate destination visitors simply don’t choose to ski the rugged, north-facing mountain with a 12-minute double chair ride to the top.

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Snow King managing partner Max Chapman, Jr. outlines his group’s investments to date and vision for the future at a community open house December 11, 2015.

Last year, an investment banker with local ties named Max Chapman, Jr. led a group of investors in purchasing Snow King Holdings from the ownership group that struggled with the ski area since 1992.  This past summer, Chapman and company spent a crazy $14 million to build an alpine coaster, base lodge, retail store, ski school building, quad chair and fully-automated TechnoAlpin snowmaking system.  General Manager Ryan Stanley overhauled ticketing systems, bought new uniforms and even commissioned a brand new trail map and website.  This week, the King held a community open house at Snow King Hotel to outline a vision for phase 2 expansion and begin a multi-year public process in hopes of pushing Snow King to consistent profitability.  SKMR operates on a mix of private, federal and town land so Chapman knows he needs the community’s support.

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The Panorama House will be re-imagined with a modern facility and integrated gondola (apparently with 1960s Riblet towers!)

The anchor of the project is a base-to-summit gondola to an all-new complex that will serve a variety of visitors year-round.  The facility up top would include a movie theatre, planetarium, cafeteria and fine dining overlooking the town of Jackson and Teton Range.  As of now the building would also include gondola cabin storage/maintenance and takeoff for a quad zipline plunging into town below at speeds up to 75 mph.  Chapman noted, “we want everything we build to be the best.”

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News Roundup: Fire Season

The Pine Fire near Wrightwood, CA narrowly missed Mountain High Resort earlier this week.
The Pine Fire near Wrightwood, California skirted Mountain High Resort earlier this week.  Photo credit: Stuart Palley.
  • The North Resort at Mountain High narrowly escapes one of California’s many wildfires burning out of control.
  • Leitner-Poma is about to start 3 1/2 months of construction at Sipapu, New Mexico.
  • Next season will not happen at Saddleback, Maine unless the resort can secure $3 million for a new quad lift in the next two weeks.  Or so they say.
  • In central New Hampshire, Waterville Valley continues clearing for the Green Peak expansion while Tenney Mountain prepares to reopen after a decade being closed.
  • Sugarloaf launches their lift safety website that appears it took an intern half an hour to make.
  • Leitner gets into the surfing business with DirectDrive.
  • Poma’s 2014 Reference Book is now online.  Better late than never!
  • Snow King Mountain’s very wealthy investors announce phase 2 expansion with a base-to-summit gondola and major skiing expansion.
Snow King's Rafferty lift opened on July 12th.
Snow King’s new Rafferty lift and alpine slide finally opened on July 12th, about a month behind schedule.

Snow King’s New Lift Opens This Weekend

Snow King Mountain is a busy place.
Snow King Mountain is a busy place with crews simultaneously building a chairlift, mountain coaster, base lodge and alpine slide.

Snow King Mountain and Doppelmayr load tested the new Rafferty quad chairlift last week.  It will open along with a revamped alpine slide this weekend.  The opening is about 15 days behind schedule – not bad considering the scope of Snow King’s transformation.  This marks the debut of Doppelmayr’s new Alpen Star drive-tension terminal and their new, simplified control system.  The lift has mid-station unloading and will operate year-round.  A mountain coaster and treetop adventure park will follow in August with a new base lodge debuting this winter.  Meanwhile, the Doppelmayr crew has moved across the valley to build the new Teton Lift.

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