- Squaw seeks extension for permit to replace Red Dog lift.
- MND Group turnover increases 15.1 percent year-over-year. The company aims to double sales by 2020 partially through LST Ropeways subsidiary. Referencing the new Cannon Mountain T-Bar in the latest magazine, MND notes “success has enabled LST to penetrate the US market, paving the way for other promising opportunities.”
- Doppelmayr will begin building its next tri-cable gondola in December. Who would have guessed Kenya would get a 3S before the United States!
- Forest Service gives final green light for Breckenridge and Keystone six-place upgrades.
- A slow landslide continues to move tower 6 of the Barrows lift at Howelsen Hill.
- SE Group will study placement of Aspen Mountain’s future Lift 1A.
- Denver Post publishes two part interview with Larry Smith of the CPTSB re: Granby Ranch.
- The LiftDigital safety bar display system with integrated Wi-Fi will launch in Colorado for 2017-18.
- New PomaLink newsletter features the Grand Canyon Express and a six-station gondola at a zoo in China.
- Poma’s 2016 Reference Book includes LPOA installations but not Skytrac ones.
- Mountain Creek files for bankruptcy protection with debts totaling $40+ million including $500,000 balance on 2012 Partek chairlift loan.
- One of Heavenly’s original 1962 tram cars is for sale. Email me if you’re interested.
- Artur Doppelmayr died Friday at age 95. May he rest in peace.
It’s been two weeks since the bombshell news that Aspen Skiing Co. and KSL Capital Partners are joining forces to bring twelve ski resorts under a new entity rivaling Vail Resorts. While the deals won’t close for months, the new partners already say they plan to invest heavily in the guest experience. “We have earmarked a lot of capital for improvements to be able to continue to reinvest significantly in the communities and the mountains,” KSL CEO Eric Resnick told the Denver Post. “What’s exciting is being able to bring new opportunities with these communities and with these mountains to those customers who are already so passionate.” This could come in the form of new lifts ahead of the 2018-19 season and beyond. Below is a summary of announced plans and my speculation of what might be in store for KSL and Aspen’s upcoming resorts.
- Alpine Meadows, CA:
- Alpine Meadows applied for and received approval to replace the Hot Wheels chairlift in a new, longer alignment back in 2012. A mid-station offload would allow beginner and intermediate skiers to access the lower mountain while others could continue to an unload near the top of Sherwood, providing direct access to Sherwood and Lakeview. Approval for this lift likely expired in September 2015 but there’s no reason to believe Placer County would not approve it again.
- Speaking of Lakeview, it is arguably the largest remaining pod at Alpine Meadows without detachable access. This 1984 CTEC is older than Sherwood and with approximately the same vertical rise. A high-speed quad is likely to replace it eventually.
- Doppelmayr and CTEC have both built lifts at Alpine Meadows while Leitner-Poma has not. That could change with the unification of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.
- I’ve written before about the Base-to-Base Gondola which is still on the table but still requires multiple government approvals. It would traverse the White Wolf property between Squaw and Alpine with two angle stations along the way.
- 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.
Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.
- Doppelmayr’s latest Wir Magazine has lots on D-Line.
- Vail Resorts looks far and wide for its next acquisition with eyes towards Canada and Japan.
- Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows enters strategic alliance with Genting Secret Garden, one of China’s newest ski resorts with a 6/8 chondola and two bubble high speed quads.
- Great Divide, Montana is buying a new drive terminal for its Good Luck double.
- Jay Peak receiver calls the resort’s financial situation “dire” as he reveals the resort lost $6.2 million last winter and looks for cost savings.
- Queenstown’s Skyline Gondola will be replaced with a $60 million 10-passemger version in 2018. The current 4-place Doppelmayr gondola debuted in 1987.
- The game-changing Leitner 3S gondola to the Stubai Glacier will open July 9th.
Earlier this fall, Squaw Valley Ski Holdings submitted its formal application to the Placer County Planning Department to build the three-stage gondola connecting Squaw Valley with Alpine Meadows that was first announced last spring. Leitner-Poma will design the system on the heels of completing Squaw’s Big Blue and Siberia six-packs. LPOA has lots of experience building detachable lifts with angle stations including similar three-section gondolas at Breckenridge and Sunshine Village.
The Squaw-Alpine gondola will be around 13,000 feet long with 37 towers and two ridge-top angle stations. The unique system will have three haul ropes but only two drives located at the end stations (Breck and Sunshine’s gondolas have just one rope & drive each.) In this sense, the base-to-base gondola is really two gondolas similar to Whistler Village and Revelstoke. What’s different at Squaw is the center section will operate with the Alpine drive by sharing a common bullwheel where the sections meet. As such, the Squaw section could be run independently but the other two spans must operate together. Regardless, cabins will normally make the entire trip from Squaw to Alpine. The gondola’s hourly capacity will be 1,400 passengers per direction with 8-passenger cabins and a line speed of 1,000 fpm. Squaw also plans full-speed operations during a power outage with generators at each drive station.
The north mid-station on the Squaw side will be sited on private lands near the summit of the KT-22 detachable quad while the south mid-station will be in the Tahoe National Forest within Alpine’s existing permit boundary. Skiers will be able to access some pretty awesome terrain from both mid-stations when conditions allow. The Squaw Village terminal will sit between KT-22 and the Squaw One Express while the Alpine terminal will be between the Roundhouse Express and Hot Wheels. The gondola will actually fly over Alpine’s base lodge and under Squaw’s Funitel. One interesting point from the application is that the Alpine mid-station at just over 7,700 feet in elevation will have no permanent road access or power line to it, which is part of why the central section has no drive motor of its own. The terminal control systems, lights, etc. will run off a line generator and diesel genset.