News Roundup: Base-to-Base

  • Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows CEO Andy Wirth and landowner Troy Caldwell held a Base-to-Base Gondola open house and Q&A last week presenting lots of new details. The Red Dog replacement project won’t happen until the gondola alignment is finalized.
  • The Balsams files site plans for construction of a gondola and more beginning as soon as this fall.
  • Subaru Skyride debuts at the Indiana State Fair.  Can anyone identify the manufacturer?
  • Owners of Lutsen say $40 million expansion will compel more skiers to stay in the Midwest instead of trekking to Colorado.
  • Still no sign of lift construction at Saddleback.
  • Two people apparently were injured riding a lift at Montage Mountain last weekend.
  • Following the successful launch of a Poma gondola to the Kuelap fortress, Peru’s government to study building a cable car to Machu Picchu.
  • Snowbasin is adding a tower to the currently towerless Allen Peak Tram to increase clearance and reduce closures during storm cycles.
  • Keystone drops Making Montezuma episode 2.
  • Disney Skyliner gondola construction prep continues.
  • Sunshine Village reopens its gondola tomorrow after an 11-day fire closure.
  • First pictures emerge of Steamboat’s gondola rebuild.  Notice downloading capacity is now only six per cabin.
  • The City of Elko will take over Elko Snobowl.
  • Steamboat City Council reviews vision for Howelsen Hill which includes $1.54 million for a new, realigned Barrows chairlift.
  • An Eldo Express update from Eldora.
  • Ditto from Stoneham.
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News Roundup: Gravity

  • 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.

News Roundup: New York

  • Colorado posts its second best season with nearly 12 million skier days. Vermont was up 21 percent year-over-year and New Hampshire went +30 percent.
  • Valemount opening pushes back to 2019-2020.
  • Rumors swirl of possible lift surveys at Saddleback.
  • Doppelmayr Cable Car and Transport for London extend operations & maintenance contract for the Emirates Air Line for another five years.
  • The government of Venezuela owes Garaventa $14.5 million!
  • Belleayre’s Catskill Thunder Gondola will be a Doppelmayr opening this December.
  • Partek’s only 2017 project is underway at Mt. Peter.
  • Peak Resorts plans to spend $9 million to expand Hunter Mountain and add a new high-speed chairlift in 2018.
  • Arapahoe Basin and Sugarloaf prove even relatively small lift projects make for interesting off-season reading.
  • Vermont’s defunct Maple Valley is for sale along with three Hall lifts for $950,000.
  • Val Gardena, Italy is the launch customer for Sigma’s innovative Symphony 10 gondola cabin and the new Leitner station.
  • Could North Korea’s ski resort with counterfeit and relocated Doppelmayr lifts host Olympic skiing?
  • Doppelmayr removes Wildcat at Snowbasin to make way for Utah’s first six-pack outside of Park City.  Thanks @ozskier for the photos!

News Roundup: $4.6 Billion

Snowbasin Announces Wildcat Six-Pack

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The Wildcat triple at Snowbasin will be retired this spring and replaced with the resort’s fifth detachable.
New lift week continues!  Snowbasin’s oldest lift, Wildcat, will be replaced with a Doppelmayr six-place chairlift for next season.  The resort’s first six-pack will rise 1,290 feet in just five minutes in place of the 1973 Thiokol and its ten minute ride.  The new lift will have 17 towers and a capacity of 2,400 passengers per hour.  9-second chair spacing will make the lift more beginner-friendly than a high-speed quad.

“Snowbasin Resort is very excited to announce several improvements to the Wildcat area of the mountain that should greatly enhance the guest’s experience,” said John Loomis, General Manager at Snowbasin. “With the addition of a new Doppelmayr 6 passenger high speed chair lift, we will be able to better utilize this area of the Resort that was the original heart of the ski area. The new lift will service beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain and include new snowmaking on Wildcat Bowl, Blue Grouse, Herberts, Eas-A-Long, Wildcat Traverse and Stein’s. These improvements will improve access to this wonderful terrain with earlier access and better conditions when Mother Nature is not as cooperative as we would like.”

Snowbasin, owned by Sinclair Oil Corporation along with Sun Valley, will have just three fixed-grip chairlifts remaining next season.  The Forest Service also recently approved a high-speed-quad for Strawberry Bowl that will be able to run in higher winds than the Strawberry Express Gondola.  Snowbasin will hold a Wildcat last chair party and final ride at 4:00pm April 15th.

News Roundup: Colorado

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Likely new lifts for 2017 are pacing 39 percent ahead of last year, when 28 new lifts had been announced on this date.  I’ve identified 39 lift projects for 2017 and if last year’s pattern holds, lift manufacturers will build approximately 57 new ropeways in N. America in 2017, the most since 2004.  We’ll know by about July 1.

Instagram Tuesday: Six Continents

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

What this cable car ride needs is a rotating floor! #tablemountain #cablecar

A post shared by Anna Swindell (@number__43) on

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News Roundup: Hauling

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Caberfae Peaks staff bring tower tubes to the summit of North Peak for a new triple chair.  Thanks to Lawrence W. for the photo.

News Roundup: Now That’s a Model

  • Snowbasin will test solar-powered USB charging bars in five of its gondola cabins in partnership with Goal Zero.
  • Mt. Waterman in Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Mountains reopens this weekend with 3 Riblet doubles operating for the first time in five years.  The mountain will honor all tickets and passes sold since 2011!
  • Two years after his 6-year old daughter fell from a chair, a New Jersey man sues Campgaw Mountain and the town/county it’s located in for “careless and reckless” operation of a ski lift.
  • Sugarloaf just can’t catch a break.  A power failure shut down most of its lifts for hours on their first Saturday with snow.
  • Did you know Doppelmayr operates a zoo with more than 400 animals at its headquarters in Wolfurt?
  • Speaking of Doppelmayr, their interactive installation map now displays 24 world record-breaking ropeways (click the red button on the bottom left.)
  • Somebody had to do it.  Spirit Mountain, Minnesota becomes the first to offer lift-served, downhill fat biking starting Sunday.
  • Whistler Village Gondola cabin #84 returns to its roots in the Alps as The Coffee Gondola.
  • What appears to be a Doppelmayr quad chair rolls back in China, screaming ensues.

Top Ten Lifts with the Most Chairs

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The average detachable chairlift has 108 carriers while the average fixed grip lift has 103.  Most people would assume the longest lifts have the most carriers but that’s usually not the case.  One of the reasons is longer spacing on detachable chairlifts and gondolas.  Also many long fixed-grip lifts get designed with lower hourly capacities and bigger spacing to save money.  In fact, only one of the top ten lifts with the most chairs is also among the ten longest. Each of the lifts below has more than 200 chairs and, not surprisingly, all but two are fixed-grips.

  1. Cyclone – Sunrise Park Resort, AZ – 352 Yan triple chairs
  2. West Mountain – Sugarloaf, ME – 280 Borvig double chairs
  3. edited to add later: Town – Park City, UT – 264 CTEC triple chairs
  4. Alpine – Copper Mountain, CA – 218 Yan double chairs
  5. Porcupine – Snowbasin, UT – 212 Stadeli triple chairs
  6. Summit – Attitash, NH – 207 CTEC triple chairs
  7. C-Chair – Breckenridge, CO – 206 Riblet triple chairs
  8. A-Chair – Breckenridge, CO – 206 Riblet triple chairs
  9. Snowflake – Breckenridge, CO – 205 Poma double chairs
  10. Northwest Express – Mt. Bachelor, OR – 204 Doppelmayr quad chairs
  11. American Flyer – Copper Mountain, CO – 203 Poma quad chairs

What about gondolas?  There are a bunch of them that stretch two-plus miles.  Even so, no gondolas come close to making this list.  The Sunshine Village Gondola has the most cabins in North America with approximately 175 CWA Omegas and the Whistler Village Gondola comes in at number two with 160 Sigma Diamond cabins.  The average North American gondola has just 74 cabins.

Now, who can guess which lift has the most towers?