Sunday River Unveils Ten Year Plan for New Lifts & More

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With ambitious improvement plans recently crafted for Big Sky and Loon Mountain, Boyne Resorts has turned to updating its capital spending vision for Sunday River, Maine.  Spanning eight peaks in the beautiful Mahoosuc Mountains, Sunday River offers more than 50 miles of trails and a beast of a snowmaking system.  Though the terrain and scenery are top notch, many lifts were installed during the American Skiing Company boom years and are showing their age.  The plan prescribes replacing at least six lifts and building a lift-served real estate development on a ninth mountain called Merrill Hill over the next ten years.

Lift wise in the short term, the two biggest priorities are Barker Mountain and Jordan Bowl.  The former is no surprise as the Barker Mountain Express was originally built by Lift Engineering and converted to a quasi-Poma high speed quad decades ago.  While no specific model was specified, I expect the replacement will be a six or eight place signature lift.  The Jordan Bowl Express is newer, built by Doppelmayr in 1994, but also ripe for up-gauging given the vast amount of terrain it services.  Another near term project is the Merrill Hill lift, providing access to a new ski-in, ski-out neighborhood near North Peak.  During this phase, the White Cap quad is slated to gain a loading conveyor to increase speed and efficiency.

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After those projects, Sunday River is targeting the White Cap and North Peak lifts for replacement.  The former is a 1987 Yan fixed grip quad with a ride time in excess of 10 minutes.  North Peak is a 1997 Doppelmayr detachable quad.

Near the end of the 2030 plan, the Aurora Peak and South Ridge lifts would be addressed.  Aurora is another Yan fixed grip that moves very slowly.  It’s newer than White Cap, having been installed in 1991 as one of Yan’s last-ever installations.  South Ridge is one year newer and was built by Poma.  Not all of these installations will necessarily be brand new machines.  Boyne plans to shuffle lifts within and between resorts in the coming years, including the outgoing Swift Current from Big Sky and Kancamagus at Loon Mountain.  The company also wants to purchase the bubble six place lift from the Hermitage Club, which would go to one of Boyne’s three northeast mountains.

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The workhorse Barker Mountain Express services six of Sunday River’s most popular trails and is planned to be replaced early in the 2030 vision.

The Sunday River 2030 vision includes more than just lifts.  RFID ticketing technology will be implemented resort-wide.  An observation deck on North Peak and mountain coaster are planned.  At the top of the already spectacular Jordan Bowl pod, a signature summit restaurant is envisioned.

Looking at the history of Sunday River, it’s quite remarkable how many lifts and terrain expansions Les Otten was able to complete before American Skiing Company ran out of cash.  Otten purchased 18 different chairlifts and grew the resort from 40,000 skier visits to more than a half million annually.  Boyne’s plan will build on that success, replacing up to six lifts and adding another peak. “We are incredibly grateful for our guests, our team, and the Boyne Resorts family for helping to guide and determine our future,” noted Sunday River President and General Manager Dana Bullen.  “The next decade will be one of the most transformational in our 60-year history, assuring that Sunday River will remain one of the top resorts in the Northeast.”

News Roundup: Switching Sides

  • Gould Academy sells the naming rights to its T-Bar at Sunday River to Alera Group, an employee benefits firm.
  • Ski Bluewood’s former platter lift can be yours for $19,000.
  • To celebrate new carpool and transit initiatives, Crystal Mountain debuts a green gondola cabin.
  • Does the public have the right to know what individual ski resorts pay the federal government for use of public lands?  Vail Resorts and the National Ski Areas Association argue no.
  • The New York Times visits Woodward Park City in its first week of operation.
  • Sun Valley and Snowbasin prepare for their first peak period after switching from Mountain Collective to Epic.
  • The Saddleback deal won’t close on Monday as scheduled but hopefully sometime in January.
  • A religious group wants to relaunch the long-abandoned Moab Scenic Tram.
  • The Meier family assumes full ownership of Greek Peak and Toggenburg Mountain in New York.
  • Colorado Ski Country USA launches a chairlift safety video series.
  • The latest Wir Magazine highlights Bromont’s big combination lift, the history of Doppelmayr in Canada and new scale models from Jägerndorfer.

News Roundup: That Was Fast

  • After just three weeks being open, the Disney Skyliner flies its one millionth guest.
  • The new Park City trail map shows exactly where Over and Out goes.
  • Poma inaugurates a lift full of superlatives in South Korea: the longest span between towers (4,000 feet) and tallest concrete tower (492 feet) for a monocable gondola.
  • The Boston Seaport Gondola project is officially dead.
  • Timberline Four Seasons Resort is scheduled to be auctioned November 19th.
  • Aspen Skiing Company will try again for approval of the Ajax Pandora expansion.
  • With an expansion coming, a dispute arises between Idaho and Montana over how much of Lookout Pass Ski Area each can lay claim to.
  • The Forest Service approves Timberline Lodge’s request to replace Pucci with a high speed quad.
  • In what could be a preview of an eventual lift sale, Alterra, Vail Resorts and Seven Springs all bid to buy the Hermitage Club’s snowmaking guns (Vail won.)
  • The latest Pomalink newsletter previews Téléo, the first 3S urban gondola in France.
  • Tampa Bay will study gondola transportation.
  • Park City elected leaders discuss the same topic.
  • Grafton SkyTour is now open.
  • Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers visits Granite Peak to see how lifts are inspected and learn about a proposed expansion.
  • The Sea to Sky Gondola replacement haul rope is spliced.
  • A guy BASE jumps off a tram tower in Germany.
  • The urban gondola promoter in Edmonton unveils its first proposed station location.
  • The new Gould Academy T-Bar at Sunday River will be open to the public whenever four or more major chairlifts go on hold.
  • The name of Manning Park Resort’s new Doppelmayr quad is Bear.
  • Steamboat’s new gondola completes acceptance tests.
  • The Swiss gondola which lost a cabin on October 20th reopens.

News Roundup: Italian American

    • The Edmonton Ski Club and its Mueller T-Bar will reopen this winter following a one year hiatus.
    • The developer of Big Snow America is so confident in the American Dream project that it offered the Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall as collateral to secure a $2.8 billion construction loan.
    • Investors and Berkshire Bank battle over whose claim to the Hermitage six pack should take precedent.
    • The White River National Forest extends public commenting for the Breck Peak 7 Infill chairlift project to September 1st.
    • The Forest Service approved Aspen Mountain’s Pandora expansion awhile ago but the county still needs to approve necessary zoning.
    • SilverStar adds 24 hour security, surveillance cameras and enhanced line checks in the wake of the Sea to Sky Gondola downing.
    • TransLink’s CEO says the proposed Burnaby Mountain tricable gondola would be less susceptible to such an attack.
    • Grouse Mountain gives all Sea to Sky Gondola passholders free lift access through November 30th.
    • S2S cleanup will take awhile and trails remain closed for public safety.
    • Swiss manufacturer Bartholet shows it’s possible to build a new fixed quad in just three weeks.
    • Jaegerndorfer now exports Omega V cabins in miniature form to the United States.
    • Aspen Snowmass will add chairs to lifts at Highlands and Snowmass to address Ikon Pass crowding concerns.
    • Skytrac will manufacture towers for and install the new Leitner T-Bar at Ski Cooper.
    • This profile demonstrates why the Kaiser S2 excavator is so popular for ski lift construction.
    • MND Group, owner of LST Ropeways, says it has resolved “financial difficulties” by reorganizing its debt.
    • Doppelmayr names Jürgen Pichler its new global marketing chief.
    • It looks like Sunday River’s Locke Mountain triple will gain a tower or two thanks to the new T-Bar that crosses under it.
    • Arctaris Impact Fund hosts a community meeting and announces its intention to close on the purchase of Saddleback come early November.
    • Big Sky and Loon Mountain will launch the world’s first dual frequency RFID lift access system in partnership with Axess.
    • With a new detachable quad under construction, Bogus Basin caps a five year turnaround.
    • Alpine Media display screens will go live on more chairs this winter.
    • Big Burn at Snowmass may be replaced with a bubble lift.

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News Roundup: Tough Week

News Roundup: Ahead

  • Doppelmayr and CWA unveil world’s most luxurious gondola cabin with air conditioning, a fridge and more powered by carriage wheel generators.
  • The five chairlift Hermitage Club lays off 50 to 80 employees and cuts ski operations to weekends only, a result of significant financial challenges.
  • Children fall from lifts at West Mountain and Windham Mountain.
  • 2022 Winter Olympics host China is up to an impressive 236 ski areas with at least one chairlift.
  • Woodward Park City remains in limbo pending the outcome of three appeals.
  • Theme park projects such as the Doppelmayr-supplied Hogwarts Express and Disney Skyliner drive record revenue for PCL Construction of Edmonton.
  • There was a deropement followed by partial rope evac of the triple chair at Red Lodge Mountain over Presidents’ weekend.
  • Apres Vous at Jackson Hole was evacuated yesterday following a gearbox issue.
  • Sunday River reveals why it takes 3.5 hours to put cabins back on the Chondola after a windstorm.
  • Here’s more construction eye candy from Disney World.
  • Stella, the only six-pack in Idaho, was named and themed by a former Disney imagineer.
  • Catch up on the upcoming season pass battle and what else lies ahead for Alterra with company President Dave Perry.
  • Speaking of the Ikon Pass, it now includes 400 lifts with new partners Revelstoke, Sugarbush, Sunshine Village, Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay for $899.

News Roundup: Snapped

  • SkyTrans Manufacturing announces the passing of its founder and president, Jerry Pendleton, who began his career with O.D. Hopkins in 1960.
  • John Dalton’s tale of how two brand new lifts survived the Category 5 hurricane in St. Maarten is a must read.
  • A dangling Mammoth Mountain guest escapes a fall from a chair unharmed; lifty who caught her isn’t as lucky.
  • Snowbird’s in-house magazine demystifies how detachable lifts work with a sweet diagram from Doppelmayr and copy from a guy you might have heard of.
  • Hatcher Pass, Alaska moves toward building a SkyTrans triple chair ASAP.
  • Video of a swinging Austrian bubble chair with two skiers struggling to hang on goes viral worldwide.
  • The Hermitage Club comes within days of having its water and sewer services shut off and is still working through other payables.
  • A gondola cabin blew off an outdoor parking rail at Sunday River during last week’s storm and a slew of other lifts suffered damage but are now back in action.
  • 9-year old unharmed after falling 15 feet from a lift at Boyce Park, PA.
  • A three-station gondola is one of ten finalists for a signature attraction in Edmonton, Alberta.  You can vote for it in an online public advisory poll.
  • Fernie’s White Pass lift will be closed for awhile while new bullwheel bearings are sourced and installed.
  • Powerful storm snaps a 30 mm wire rope on Mont Blanc’s iconic panoramic cable car, which was not operating and typically only runs in the summer.
  • Granite Gorge’s sole chairlift has yet to open this season, apparently due to gearbox issues.

News Roundup: Sadness

News Roundup: High Level

News Roundup: Another LST

  • Mi Teleférico announces it will transport its hundred millionth commuter in early December, three and a half years after opening La Paz’s first urban gondola.  Eight gondolas now operate with two more forming the Orange Line set to debut September 29th. The White Line will follow in the first quarter of 2018 and the network will transport some 50 million passengers next year.
  • Waterville Valley receives approval to build a T-Bar this fall in place of the High Country double.  It’s the second North American project for LST Ropeways, the French company that collaborated with Skytrac to build the Valar T-Bar at nearby Cannon Mountain last year (an arrangement made before Leitner-Poma bought Skytrac.)
  • Saddleback begins removal of the Rangeley double in preparation for its replacement.  The Cupsuptic T-Bar will now be repaired rather than replaced, providing access to the Kennebago quad until Rangeley is complete.  “The scope of this project is partially what drove the decision to repair versus replace the T-Bar,” Saddleback says.  “If we had replaced both, there is a chance that there would not be any skiing this year if early snow arrived.”

  • LST’s first detachable lift, which opened on July 29th in La Plagne, closed August 17th, apparently so adjustments can be made before winter.
  • Gould Academy’s new T-Bar on Locke Mountain at Sunday River will cost an estimated $750,000 and serve up to 1,200 racers per hour, rising 815 vertical feet.
  • Sugarbush’s two new Alpen Stars are coming right along.
  • Jackson Hole’s Sweetwater Gondola cabins are going inside this winter. 

     

     

  • Could a gondola from Windsor, Ontario help Detroit land Amazon’s second HQ?
  • Now’s your chance to weigh in on New York’s proposed Capital District Gondola.
  • The latest from St. Maarten, where a chairlift-based adventure park was slated to open just days after Hurricane Irma hit: