- As he prepares to relinquish day-to-day duties at Alterra, Rusty Gregory reflects on decades of ski industry changes.
- Poma names a new global President.
- One of the last US theme parks with a VonRoll skyride is sold to an e-commerce fulfillment developer and will close within the next decade.
- Pittsburgh will use $600,000 in federal grant money to study a possible gondola transit corridor.
- Vermont’s Suicide Six ski area will change its name in the coming weeks.
- The first gondola with 8 passenger Omega V cabins opens soon in Morocco.
- The Burnaby Mountain Gondola may really happen.
- Emirates ends its naming rights sponsorship of the London Cable Car after ten years.
- Sunday River provides an update on the massive Jordan 8 project.
- The Portland Tram finally reopens to the public.
- Hilltop Ski Area seeks $2.2 million in American Rescue Plan funds to replace its aging triple chairlift with a modern fixed grip quad.
- Firefighters help evacuate a chairlift at a Massachusetts zoo.
- Thanks to Benjamin Bartz for these photos of now-halted Park City lift construction. I have asked Vail Resorts what the plan is for already-produced lift equipment and will update if I hear back.
News Roundup: Retirements
- Snow Ridge, NY retires its Snowy Meadows double in favor of a conveyor.
- Ditto for the J-Bar at Suicide Six, Vermont.
- The San Francisco Chronicle checks in on Sierra at Tahoe‘s recovery.
- An electrician is hospitalized following a possible lightning strike at Cypress Mountain.
- An anti-gondola candidate is elected mayor of the town where a Little Cottonwood Gondola would begin.
- A local author tells the story of how a hodgepodge of used chairlifts set the stage for Big Sky’s cutting edge lifts.
- The Italian tram car involved in last May’s deadly incident is removed from the mountain by helicopter.
- The Breckenridge Town Council approves a plan for the Breckenridge Grand Vacations gondola and stipulates its developer must choose a detachable model.
- Sun Peaks Resort won’t operate the West Bowl T-Bar for the second year in a row.
- Reopening Hickory, NY intends to operate all three lifts this season when snow permits.
- The Prairie Sky Gondola is officially under development in Edmonton.
- Shawnee Mountain’s next new lift will likely be a fixed quad replacing the double–double.
- Prague looks to build an urban 3S gondola with three stations.
- Discussions continue regarding the future of the aging Telluride-Mountain Village gondola system.
- Palisades Tahoe confirms the new base-to-base gondola won’t open this winter.
- Aspen Snowmass ups its minimum wage to $17 for hourly employees and $50,000 for salaried workers.
- Brundage says new lifts and terrain are coming, though specifics are pending.
- Loon Mountain gets ready to welcome guests aboard the new Kanc 8.
News Roundup: Climbing
- Suicide Six debuts new Leitner-Poma quad chair, Red River opens its new Doppelmayr quad.
- Sundance employees rush a ladder to a chair, climb up and pull a hanging child back up in just minutes. A man at Seven Springs fares worse.
- Two of Canada’s richest families still plan to build $3.5 billion ski resort near Squamish.
- Telluride Mountain Village Gondola turns 20.
- Jay Peak’s tram is back in action.
- The AP runs a story on future urban gondolas in the United States.
- Cannon Mountain’s new LST T-Bar goes down ahead of dedication.
- If you enjoy this blog, Ski Inc. is a must read.
News Roundup: One Third
- Alpine Mountain says goodbye to skiing. The Pennsylvania ski area once operated three Borvig fixed-grips chairlifts.
- Nearing December, Suicide Six and Waterville Valley are still building their respective new lifts.
- Skytrac talks ANSI and more with Ross Stevens of Stevens Engineering.
- East River Skyway gains more backers.
- City of Branson to vote on American Gondola agreement Dec. 13th.
- One summer is down, two more to go building the world’s highest 3S.
- Chile’s President inaugurates new Poma gondola in Santiago.
- Saddleback Mountain Foundation raises one third of the millions needed to reopen Maine’s third largest resort as a co-operative.
- Parks Canada is not on board with gondola transit for Banff.
- Ski racer gets $750,000 after being left on a gondola at Killington for five hours in October 2011.
News Roundup: Multiplying
- The weather mostly cooperates with Waterville Valley’s ambitious late-fall expansion.
- Suicide Six is also building this November.
- Jay Peak misses tax payment ahead of winter season. So does Burke Mountain.
- Urban gondola ideas emerge in Branson, MO, Greenville, SC, Montreal and San Antonio.
- Another Bolivian city – Sucre – to get cable car network.
- Zacatecas, Mexico stops work on its new gondola, much of which Leitner has already delivered, due to environmental and cultural concerns.
- BC Safety Authority reminds skiers that rider (mis)behavior causes most lift accidents.
- Telluride wants to replace lifts 7, 9, 10 and 14.
- Saddleback Mountain Foundation raises $750,000 towards the purchase of Maine’s second largest ski area which closed in 2015. The group plans to replace the Rangeley double and Cupsuptic T-Bar with new lifts and eventually expand with a new Magalloway lift.
News Roundup: Happenings
- Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto inaugurates Mexicable today with free rides all week and an impressive span of service: 4:30 am to 11:00 pm. Mexicable also features the first Leitner DirectDrives in North America.
- Doppelmayr looks at building a gondola network in Port-au-Prince, Haiti financed by China.
- Three public agencies agree to fund $15,000 preliminary study of Austin’s Wire idea with results to be released in nine weeks. Hint: 19 stations is way too many.
- El Paso’s Wyler Aerial Tramway, built in 1959, breaks down.
- Doppelmayr showcases its Koblenz urban 3S at Innotrans in Berlin. Leitner was there too.
- Sunday River sells chairs from South Ridge, Suicide Six sells more from its old double.
- Pebble Creek’s new owner has 4.8 million followers on YouTube.
- Fatzer and Doppelmayr splice the record-breaking Giggijochbahn and the stats are impressive: 4,500 pph, 134 cabins, 6.5 m/s, 62 mm rope.
- The most expensive lift ever built opens Oct. 22nd at Stubaier Glacier.
- America needs an urban gondola done right, Mike Deiparine of Engineering Specialties Group tells Wired.
- First cabin takes a trip on the Blue line, La Paz’s 5th urban gondola.
New England Gets a Lift: Suicide Six to Build New Quad Chair
Vermont’s Woodstock Inn & Resort unveiled plans Thursday for a new quad chairlift at its Suicide Six Ski Area. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but it marks the first (and possibly only) major lift project in the Northeast United States for 2016. Over the last ten seasons, Northeastern ski resorts have built an average of ten new lifts each year, testament to this year’s huge departure from normal in the wake of a rough winter.
The new Lift #1 will replace a 1975 Borvig double and be built by Leitner-Poma of America. The Laurance S. Rockefeller Fund will foot the bill for the $1.5 million project. The Rockefeller Family’s RockResorts once owned Suicide Six and the Woodstock Inn and spun them off as the nonprofit Woodstock Foundation in the 1980s. Vail Resorts bought RockResorts in 2001.
The 2000′ Borvig double chair being replaced closed in February after the ski area found tower cracks following the Timberline, WV crossarm failure. Although the two lifts’ towers were of different design, the State of Vermont ordered inspections of all Borvig-brand lifts. The new quad will be Suicide Six’s first new lift since Poma built the 1,600′ chairlift way back in 1978. The mountain first opened for skiing in 1936 and currently has two double chairs, a J-Bar and 24 trails.
Woodstock President and General Manager Gary Thulander said in a news release, “We recognized the need to upgrade this chairlift as part of the long-term support of the regional ski community including local schools, season pass holders, the Woodstock Ski Runners program, and visiting skiers. Increased chair capacity means a dramatic upgrade to the overall experience of the mountain by all levels of skiers, racers and snowboarders.” Removal of the old chair is already underway.
This is Leitner-Poma’s eighth new lift project for 2016, up from seven last year. With this news from Suicide Six and other recent announcements, the total new lift count for North America stands at 39, up 11 percent from last summer’s 35.
Fallout from Timberline
Timberline Four Seasons Resort plans to have the Thunderstruck lift re-opened Saturday after last weekend’s incident with help from Partek, Aerial NDT and Ropeway Construction. A new crossarm will be installed to replace the one that fell from tower 12 and the lift will be load tested before it re-opens. “We have assembled a world-class team of manufacturers, engineers, and safety inspectors who have been working diligently since the event took place to assess and repair the lift, with multiple levels of oversight at every step in the process,” the resort said in a statement posted to Facebook.
Sugarloaf temporarily closed its Snubber lift (a 1985 Borvig triple) for inspections Monday after news of the incident at Timberline. Sugarloaf notes it completed Borvig’s recommended reinforcement of towers on affected lifts in the late 1980s, as did Sunday River.
The State of Vermont ordered the closure of the 2,000 foot double chair at Suicide Six after cracks were found on two of its towers. This lift was manufactured by Borvig in 1975 and has a different tower design than the ones at Timberline with no lifting frame. Because this particular lift provides the only access to the majority of the mountain’s terrain, the resort is closed until the towers can be repaired.
By my count there are 176 Borvig lifts remaining in operation in 26 states and 3 Canadian provinces. The company built 260 lifts from 1962 to 1991.
Added 2/25/2016: Sugarloaf announced today they performed non-destructive testing on the Skidway double’s towers this week in addition to inspecting Snubber. Skidway is a 1988 Borvig double. While the NDT found no problems, Sugarloaf will voluntarily install U-bolts connecting Skidway’s tower tubes and crossarms this week out of an abundance of caution.