News Roundup: Colorado

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.

Steamboat Commits to Major Gondola Upgrades

The Steamboat Gondola rises more than 2,000 vertical feet to the heart of Mt. Werner.

Fresh off a 30th birthday, Intrawest and Steamboat said yesterday they will make a major investment in the Steamboat Gondola this spring, pushing back the start of summer operations. The world’s first 8-passenger monocable gondola, once called the Silver Bullet, opened in 1986 and has amassed 80,000 hours operating day and night, year-round.  Changes include:

  • Replacement of grips, likely with Agamatic 108s, the larger version of the new Elkhead Express grips.
  • New hangers.  The 128 first-generation Omega cabins will remain.
  • Completely new terminal rail systems and tire banks.
  • Reconfiguration of cargo loading areas at both stations.
  • New electronic control system.

“Steamboat is fortunate to have some of the best mechanics and electricians in the business looking after our gondola,” said Doug Allen, vice president of mountain operations. “These upgrades give us time to look at the big picture for the base area, while also enhancing our current uphill transportation system.”  Doppelmayr will assist with the work, which will begin April 16th and require complete removal of the gondola’s nearly 18,000 foot haul rope.  Doppelmayr did an almost identical upgrade to the 1985 6-passenger gondola at Northstar California Resort in 2015, with new terminals, hangers and grips.  Leitner-Poma also recently completed major refits of the Whistler Village and Aspen Silver Queen gondolas that included new cabins.  Telluride is also grappling with a similar need for upgrades or replacement.

Chain-driven systems will be replaced with tires.

In its press release, Steamboat acknowledged the gondola as the main access to the mountain and that acting now preserves future reliable transportation.  Doppelmayr plans to be finished with the work by June 30th for the mountain’s summer season.

New Roundup: French

Instagram Tuesday: Stacked

Every Tuesday, we pick our favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

She's waiting. (📷 by @ozskier)

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6-CLD-Brembergkopf #garagiert #doppelmayr #6CLD #Winterberg @seilbahnblog.com1 @seilbahntechnik

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Instagram Tuesday: Final Push

Every Tuesday, we pick our favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

Load testing the new Elkhead high-speed quad today. It's almost time! Opening Day is scheduled for Nov. 23. #SteamboatResort

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News Roundup: Transactions

Elkhead Express Construction Update from Steamboat

This week’s construction update comes from northern Colorado where Steamboat Resort is in the midst of replacing a fixed-grip quad with a UNI-G detachable.  The Elkhead Express will be Steamboat’s first Doppelmayr lift built since 1997 after three new Leitner-Pomas in a row. Nearby Vail went the other way this year, switching from Doppelmayr back to L-P.  Elkhead Express is the third lift in its location following a 1972 Heron-Poma double and later a Lift Engineering quad.  The not-that-old Yan has been carefully disassembled and will undoubtedly find a new home somewhere down the road.

The new Elkhead will only have around ten towers; the old lift had 13.  The Doppelmayr crew has finished concrete and set the big steel with a crane at both terminals.  Tower footings are ready to go but I couldn’t find any of the towers laying around yet.  The stations will be blue and white with red stripes and are sure to look sharp.  Compared with the UNI-G terminals going up in Jackson and Big Sky, Elkhead’s stations are noticeably smaller.  Like all of Steamboat’s detachables, Elkhead Express will have a deluxe indoor maintenance bay attached to the bottom terminal.  Steamboat’s eighth detachable lift will be ready to go by Thanksgiving.

News Roundup: Commonwealth

Instagram Tuesday: Summer Nights

Every Tuesday, we pick our favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

#steamboatsprings sunset Trailhead Lodge Gondolas @wyndhamvacationrentals #steamboatresort #snapsteamboat

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Late night for #pieinthesky sunset from the windows #wbworklove #liftmaintenance #sunset #alpenglow @whistlerblackcomb

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Steamboat Plans More Lifts


Steamboat is the fourth largest ski resort in Colorado with 19 lifts and almost 3,000 acres of terrain on 10,568 foot Mt. Werner.  In 2011, Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation commissioned Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners to perform a detailed mountain analysis and update the resort’s master plan.  The Routt National Forest approved the plan in 2013, which envisions seven new lifts installed over the next ten years to better serve skiers.  Included are a mid-mountain learning center served by a second gondola, a new lift on Sunshine Peak and replacement of four lifts with upgraded equipment.  The first of the upgrade projects already underway, replacing the Elkhead triple (a 1984 Yan) with a Doppelmayr detachable quad.  Initially proposed as a six-pack, Steamboat opted to build a 4-place detachable instead.  The new Elkhead will be the first Doppelmayr lift built here since 1997 following four new Leitner-Poma lifts built at Steamboat in the 2000s.

Plan overview from Ecosign.  The new lift and trails on Pioneer Ridge shown in blue were not approved in 2013 but are within Steamboat’s existing permit boundary, were approved in 1996 and remain in the resort’s long term plans.
By far the largest component of the 2011 plan is the Rough Rider Learning Center in Bashor Bowl served by a new 8-passenger gondola.  The Bashor Gondola will rise from the base of the Silver Bullet Gondola to the northeast, crossing Christie Peak Express and Christie III.  The top terminal will house an 8,000 square foot skier-services building. Unfortunately for the gondola’s future mechanics, 3,500 square feet of that space for gondola cabin storage and maintenance will be a lunch room for 300 kids during the day.  At night, the gondola will service the lodge and a new tube park near the top terminal.  It will also spin all summer alongside the Silver Bullet.

Two fixed-grip chairlifts dubbed Rough Rider and Swinger (no way that name sticks) will service teaching terrain in Bashor Bowl along with 2-3 new magic carpets.  The 1989 Rough Rider platter nearby will be removed.  A third new chairlift will replace the Bashor lift in the same vicinity but in a new alignment ending 500′ higher.  Bashor is the second oldest lift at Steamboat, a Lift Engineering double dating back to 1972.

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