News Roundup: T-Bar Rebirth

  • Gould Academy is fundraising to put a T-Bar up Monday Mourning at Sunday River but hasn’t signed a contract yet, I’m told.  The race training lift could become New England’s sixth new T-Bar in three years.
  • Grouse Mountain sells to Chinese and Canadian investors, Blue Knob goes to a group of Pittsburgh skiers.
  • Waterville Valley’s new High Country T-Bar would follow an all-new alignment starting lower and ending higher than the current double.
  • LiftDigital safety bar displays to debut at Wachusett and on the Super Gauge Express at Winter Park.
  • Homeowners and insurers may sue the Christchurch Adventure Park in New Zealand over its decision to keep a brand new Doppelmayr high-speed quad running during a wildfire in an effort to save the haul rope.  A video allegedly shows burning chairs starting new fires along the 5,790-foot lift line. The haul rope was written off and the park remains closed five months later.
  • LST’s first detachable finally opens to the public in France.
  • Val Neigette, Quebec is closing and selling off equipment, including a 1990 Doppelmayr quad chair.
  • Developer floats building a gondola across Interstate 25 in Loveland, Colorado.
  • Aspen Snowmass COO David Perry leaves Skico to help launch new, still nameless company which will include Intrawest, KSL and Mammoth resorts.
  • Sunshine Village and Parks Canada fight hard to prevent a wildfire from crossing into the ski area.
  • Disney Skyliner’s first lift line is already cut.
  • Steamboat gondola reopening delayed a third time for more testing with the CPTSB.
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Instagram Tuesday: Rope

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

Welcome to White Fish Montana. #eastrimlift #spiderexcavators #kaisers2 #dyercorp

A post shared by Russ Dyer (@dyerallterrainexcavation) on

Mornin #sundayriver #maine #snowmaking #doppelmayr

A post shared by Zach Lousion (@face_the_north) on

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News Roundup: Skyride

  • MND Group secures $6.7 million private investment to support future growth.
  • Whitewater’s new Leitner-Poma quad chair project update.
  • Sunday River blasts some rock to make way for Spruce Peak 2.0.
  • Timberline Helicopters, the company that flies the majority of lift towers in the West, plans to build a new $3 million home on 93 acres in Northern Idaho.
  • SeaWorld San Diego commemorates 50 years of operation of its VonRoll Skyride, one of only 11 remaining in the U.S.
  • Tragedy in Gulmarg, India as seven die following tree strike on the world’s second highest gondola.  The accident was blamed on an ‘act of god’ and the gondola deemed mechanically fine.  More trees will be cut before reopening.
  • Human error caused 14-year old girl’s fall from a chairlift at Six Flags Great Escape.  After video gets millions of views, editorial in the local paper calls for locking restraint bars.
  • Colorado tram board votes against disciplinary action in Granby Ranch case.
  • A Walt Disney World gondola update.
  • Much-maligned New York State Fair gondola project is dead.
  • Anakeesta load tests new Chondola.
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Wood-paneled terminal sections arrive at Breckenridge from Leitner-Poma for the new Falcon SuperChair. Photo credit: Benjamin Bartz

News Roundup: Pulse

  • New owners of Alpine Mountain, PA say they can only afford to keep one chairlift and plan to sell two others.
  • Mi Teleférico’s upcoming Purple and Orange UNI-G stations look super cool.
  • Dismantled skyride at Western Fair in London, Ontario may go to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
  • Ski Blandford is insolvent and may close.
  • Doppelmayr USA is hiring construction laborers for Beaver CreekCopper and Snowbasin projects; Leitner-Poma of America needs help at Breck, Keystone and Vail.
  • A mile-long gondola will connect Jerusalem’s New and Old cities beginning in 2021. The Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy site attracts 130,000 visitors every week.
  • Poma lands $100 million design-build-operate-maintain contract for phase one of urban gondola system in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
  • Sunday River’s stricken Spruce triple went to Lost Valley.
  • Stoneham’s Chinook T-Bar is going to Troll, BC.
  • A new double chair will replace Pallavicini soon at Arapahoe Basin.
  • Facing another six-figure landslide repair, Howelsen Hill looks toward new chairlift.

News Roundup: Replacements

  • Suit filed against Ski Liberty by family of boy who dangled from a chair for seven minutes after mis-loading.
  • Mi Teleférico’s four gondola lines transported 194,971 passengers last Wednesday, an impressive single day record.
  • Squaw|Alpine now wants an extension of permit for replacing Hot Wheels.
  • Doppelmayr remembers past CEO Artur Doppelmayr, who died May 12th.
  • Apparently the Utah Olympic Park is adding two new chairlifts this summer, although I am still trying to confirm.
  • Steamboat’s gondola rebuild is taking longer than expected and reopening has been pushed back two weeks to July 15th.
  • Vail Resorts will re-use chairs and towers from Keystone’s Montezuma Express in building the new Red Buffalo Express at Beaver Creek.
  • Saddleback Mountain Foundation needs $11.2 million to purchase Maine’s third largest ski area, including $3.2 million to replace the Rangeley lift with a fixed-grip quad.  So far, the group has only raised a fraction of that amount.
  • Sunday River’s new Spruce Peak triple will be a Doppelmayr Tristar, Boyne Resorts’ fourth.
  • Schweitzer works toward $6-8 million Snow Ghost replacement.
  • “It is not rocket science about lift geometry,” Aspen Council member says in frustration re: Lift 1A. “There is enough expertise in this community to know where a lift goes.”
  • Mont Ripley offers $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of arsonist(s) who damaged lift.
  • Longtime Whistler Blackcomb COO and Peak 2 Peak visionary Dave Brownlie is leaving to pursue new opportunities just seven months into Vail ownership.

News Roundup: Confirmed

  • $150 million Raymond James settlement includes $762,503 for Burke Mountain’s new Leitner-Poma T-Bar.
  • Power outage leads to rope evacuation of Loveland’s newest lift.
  • Steamboat gondola refurbishing begins  (I got to tour Northstar’s gondola this week which received a similar upgrade in 2015.)
  • Orlando Sentinel confirms Walt Disney World is building three Doppelmayr 10-passenger gondolas with six stations.
  • Crystal Mountain breaks away from Boyne Resorts, orders five additional gondola cabins and plans to build new Discovery and Gold Hills lifts in 2018.
  • Eldora is selling Hall and Heron chairs as six-pack construction begins.
  • Preview Oakland’s new $13 million restaurant accessible only by gondola.
  • Sunday River’s new owner commits to replacing Spruce Peak.
  • This week’s cities floating gondolas include Edmonton and Burlington, Vermont.
  • Fatzer delivers four 153-ton track ropes to Germany’s Zugspitze using two trucks linked together for the entire journey.

News Roundup: A Million

  • Foundation work is starting for Disney gondolas.
  • Partek will build a fixed-grip quad at Mt. Peter, NY this summer.
  • East River Skyway proposal expanded to five phases with more possible stations.
  • Belleayre bid documents suggest December 2017 completion and a name for gondola: Catskill Thunder.  Funding was approved Monday though I’m told a manufacturer has not yet been awarded the contract.
  • NY State Fair gondola is also funded, separate from a chairlift to be built there by SkyTrans Manufacturing this summer.
  • Lee Canyon seeks approval to build two new quad chairs in new places.
  • Work to resume on Poma gondola in Zacatecas, Mexico with commissioning scheduled for September.
  • Gould Academy may build a T-Bar up Monday Mourning at Sunday River.
  • Intrawest stock hits record high amid acquisition rumblings.
  • A Yan detachable still operates with original grips in Spain.
  • Quebec announces $70 million in subsidies to support infrastructure investments at ski resorts in the province, including lift upgrades.
  • SEC filing shows exactly how much CNL Lifestyle Properties paid for each of the 16 ski resorts it owns.  The most valuable was Northstar at $80.1 million with Loon Mountain selling for just $15.5 million. The Gatlinburg Sky Lift operation went for a whopping $19.9 million!
  • Bridger Bowl to sell chairs from Virginia City if buyer falls through.
  • Interalpin, the every-other-year mountain technology nerd fest is April 26-28.
  • If rent payments to the federal government are any indication, Colorado is booming.
  • Flying demo tent gets hung up on Stowe gondola.
  • Staff at Barcelona’s urban gondola will strike.
  • In addition to completing the Green Lift, Magic Mountain will install a new motor and drive for the Black Lift and return capacity to three per chair.
  • Lift Blog reaches 1,000 Instagram followers, 700 Facebook fans and 1,000,000 page views.  Thank you to everyone who has supported me with this project over the last two years.

Sunday River Delays Spruce Replacement Until 2017

Things were looking up Aug. 18th, when Sunday River proclaimed “Make Spruce Great Again,” announcing a brand new Spruce Peak triple would be installed as soon as possible to replace the Borvig triple that was heavily damaged in a July foundation failure.  I was optimistic that the announced $2.1 million Doppelmayr triple could be built this fall and open sometime after Christmas.  Unfortunately, yesterday Sunday River revealed that a new lift will not be built until at least next summer, leaving the top portion of Spruce Peak without lift service for the coming winter.

added trail_hollywood

A number of factors led to the setback.  Doppelmayr already had a busy construction season building 17 lifts in the US and Canada this year.  The old lift could not be torn down until the accident could be investigated and MountainGuard could complete its claims process.  Complicating things further, CNL Lifestyle Properties wants out of the ski business, has listed Sunday River for sale and is unlikely to want to invest in capital improvements.  In a letter to pass holders, Sunday River said engineering for the new lift is complete and manufacturing could begin soon but, “decisions from our insurance carrier and commitment from our financial partners” are holding things up.  As NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com reported this weekend, the old Spruce lift is still standing two and a half months after the incident, minus the last tower and top terminal that fell over.

In addition to Spruce, Sunday River will replace the top terminal of the Locke Mountain triple which is of similar design.  The upper portion of Locke Mountain typically opens around Halloween with the first lift-served skiing in the East.  Unfortunately the terminal replacement project means that Locke Mountain will not open until at least Thanksgiving. Instead, Sunday River will attempt to open the much longer Aurora quad as soon as possible.  Even though there will be no lift to the summit of Spruce Peak this year, the trails will remain open for those want to hike and may even get snowmaking and grooming.  Chairs have been removed from the Locke Mountain triple in preparation for the new terminal installation.  A contractor (likely SkyTrans of nearby Contoocook, New Hampshire) will remove the Spruce equipment before the start of the season so it is not a hazard to skiers.

While these developments are disappointing, Sunday River’s release notes, “We remain committed to a new Spruce Peak Triple and will keep you updated on when construction for this new lift will start.”  As the saying goes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and Boyne Resorts cannot risk another Borvig lift failure in Maine.

News Roundup: Leitner

Sunday River to Build New Lift on Spruce Peak

Make Spruce great again! New lift is coming… More info at sundayriver.com #makesprucegreatagain

A post shared by Sunday River (@sundayriver) on

Sunday River announced this morning a $2.1 million Doppelmayr fixed-grip triple will replace the Spruce Peak triple, where a terminal literally fell over last month.   Willis MountainGuard and Boyne Resorts deemed the lift a loss after suspected grout failure sent the top station sliding from the bedrock it was anchored to the weekend of July 9th.  The 1986 Borvig triple was Sunday River’s second oldest lift and the new version will re-use its new Chairkit loading conveyor.  Doppelmayr will also replace the top terminal of Sunday River’s other Borvig triple on Locke Mountain.

added trail_hollywood

Exactly when the new lift will open is unclear.  Doppelmayr already has a packed summer building 17 lifts across the US and Canada.  In the meantime, most of Spruce Peak can be accessed from the Chondola and Aurora lifts.

This is far from the first (and won’t be the last) late-season lift replacement after unexpected disaster.  On June 11, 2012, a wildfire burned through Ski Apache in New Mexico, damaging two chairlifts and a gondola.  The Native American tribe that owns the mountain announced a $15 million deal with Doppelmayr on September 5th and three new lifts were completed by January.

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