- Alterra’s David Perry says significant capital is likely be spent at Steamboat in 2018 and 2019 with phase two of the gondola rebuild and other big projects on the table.
- A Denver TV reporter heads to Texas for a two-part interview with the husband of Kelly Huber, the woman killed during a lift malfunction last year at Granby Ranch.
- Two loaded chairs collide at Owl’s Head, Quebec after the Green Chair was pressed into rare operation amid downtime on a neighboring high-speed quad. The 1972 Heron-Poma is the former Big Hitch lift from Stagecoach, Colorado.
- China Peak’s owner wishes he still had the $900,000 he spent to build a new lift last summer that can’t open with no snow.
- The new Peak triple was rope evac’d at Pats Peak last Monday, apparently due to a gearbox issue.
- Poma dedicates its newest factory in France.
- Disney Skyliner’s first tower is up and it’s tapered in the cool Wolfurt style.
- Ian Cumming, founder of Powdr and majority owner of Snowbird, dies at age 77.
- Granite Gorge’s chairlift opens for the season after a gearbox issue and other problems.
- Ariel Quiros officially settles with the Securities and Exchange Commission for $82 million, paving the way for the sale of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain.
- The world’s longest lift is open!
- Killington formally applies to replace the South Ridge triple with a quad chair, manufacturer unknown. The sample profile confusingly shows a Poma Alpha drive and Doppelmayr Eclipse return terminal.
- Teton Pass, Montana won’t reopen under current ownership and is up for sale.
- Skier visits have declined 30 percent in South Korea over the last five years and there are several lost ski resorts in the Olympic region.
- The Sawtooth National Forest tentatively approves Sun Valley’s project to replace the Cold Springs lift with a longer high-speed quad as soon as this summer.
- A chairlift will be studied studied for one of Alabama’s most popular state parks.
- Alterra names Mammoth veteran Rusty Gregory as the company’s first CEO.
- Bear Valley seeks a name for its new six-pack.
- While we wait for D-Line to come to North America, check out this one going up in Austria.
- Fly day photos from Pats Peak show major Skytrac upgrades to Ascutney’s old Snowdance triple.
- I was asked by ANSI to link to the new B77.1-2017 Standard for Passenger Ropeways, which replaces the 2011 version.
- See how Sun Valley swaps a haul rope.
- Connecticut’s Woodbury Ski Area, with one 1976 Hall double, is for sale.
- As NSAA weighs its future again, industry leaders chime in anonymously on aging lifts and more.
- Proposed Steamboat budget includes $3.78 million to replace the Burrows chairlift at Howelsen Hill with a fixed-grip quad in 2019.
- Powder and others spread headlines that Colorado resorts are adding more roller coasters than chairlifts this season. However they missed Copper Mountain’s new high-speed quad and counted Vail Resorts’ four new detachables separately from Colorado Ski Country USA. The state as a whole is actually adding its most new lifts since 2013 (six) and fewer mountain coasters (four.)
Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.
Sun Valley Resort plans to replace its oldest chairlift with a new, longer high-speed quad and open 380 acres of Cold Springs Canyon to skiing in 2018. A future plans webpage launched today details the planned expansion within Bald Mountain’s existing permit area on Bureau of Land Management and National Forest lands. North-facing terrain in Turkey Bowl and Cold Springs Canyon would be gladed with an extended Lower Broadway run leading to the bottom of a new detachable quad chairlift. South-facing terrain underneath the lift would also be opened when conditions permit.
The new high speed quad is slated to replace the Cold Springs double, a Yan/Riblet hybrid that dates back to 1970. The new chairlift would be nearly twice as long and rise 1,550 vertical feet, up from the current 1,069′. Ride time would still decrease from 6.7 minutes to 6 minutes with a top terminal moved closer to the Roundhouse Gondola. After the upgrade, Bald Mountain would have only two fixed-grip chairlifts remaining – Mayday and Lookout – with two more left on Dollar Mountain.
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Twenty years ago this spring, 15 resorts faced near-disaster when the high-speed lifts they spent more than $50 million to build proved to be of faulty design and had to be retrofitted or replaced just a few years later. Lift Engineering, the company founded in 1965 by Yanek Kunczynski and more commonly called Yan, entered the detachable lift market in 1986 at June Mountain, CA reportedly after just one year of development. Yan built a total of 31 detachable quads in the US and Canada between 1986 and 1994. The majority of Yan’s customers were repeat clients such as Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation, which bought three high speed quads and the Sun Valley Company, which purchased seven. Whistler’s general manager would later write to Lift Engineering describing his team as the “unwitting recipients of a research and development project.”
Three incidents in two years sealed the fate of Yan detachables and eventually forced Lift Engineering to liquidate. On April 4, 1993, a 9-year old boy was killed and another child injured when loose bolts and a subsequent derailment caused two chairs to stack up on Sierra Ski Ranch’s Slingshot lift. The same lift had sent an empty chair to the ground two months prior when a grip failed. Lift Engineering settled a wrongful-death suit after the accident for $1.9 million. Sierra Ski Ranch’s marketing director would later state, “we found they just didn’t withstand the test of time” when the company committed $6 million to replace its three Yan detachables in 1996.
On December 23rd, 1995, a routine emergency stop on the Quicksilver high speed quad at Whistler Mountain initiated a chain reaction crash of four down-bound chairs, plunging skiers 75 feet onto the Dave Murray Downhill course below. 25-year old Trevor MacDonald died at the scene, nine people were seriously injured, 200 had to be evacuated and a second guest died 12 days later. The coroner’s investigation revealed Yan’s design failed to maintain the required 15-degree lateral swing clearance over towers, causing damage to grips over time. The type-11 grips could not maintain adequate clamping force for the maximum 38-degree rope angle on Quicksilver between towers 20-21 (Quicksilver was the only lift built with Yan’s type-11 grip owing to its heavier chairs with bubbles, the rest had the type-7 grip.) On two prior occasions, empty chairs had fallen from Quicksilver’s line, including one time three weeks prior to the deadly accident and in the same location. Leading up to December 23rd, mechanics were getting grip force faults 20+ times a day and had reportedly stuffed paper into the corresponding alarm. At the time, detachable lifts were relatively new and not required to stop automatically as a result of a grip force fault.