- Mission Ridge sues Chelan County over the permitting process for a proposed three lift expansion.
- The Forest Service approves Winter Park’s Pioneer Express replacement project.
- It will take awhile for the Utah Department of Transportation to wade through 13,000 Little Cottonwood public comments, the most the agency has ever received for a project.
- The town of Tupper Lake, New York considers leasing Big Tupper for human powered recreation.
- Indy Pass founder Doug Fish expects to quadruple redemptions from 96,000 last winter to 400,000 this season.
- New trail maps start to appear showing new lifts: Snowbasin and Welch Village this week.
- The first towers go vertical for the Olympic Valley-Alpine Meadows Gondola at Palisades Tahoe.
- Sierra at Tahoe provides a fire recovery update.
- The rest of Australia’s resorts are cleared to reopen, though some have already called it a season.
- The towns of Telluride and Mountain Village are evaluating three options for the aging gondola: gradual incremental upgrades, a major overhaul or total replacement with a decision targeted for next fall.
- Some Banff leaders still support a gondola to Mt. Norquay despite Parks Canada opposition.
- A far left group targets Poma in France. Unhappy about the company supplying a ropeway to a nuclear waste storage project, the group claims it removed bolts from Poma lifts in the Alps.
- Trollhaugen says supply chain delays are impacting installation of a new Partek chairlift, though it still should be completed for this season.
- London’s Emirates Air Line gondola will be renamed in 2022 as Transport for London seeks a new naming rights partner.
- On the always great Storm Skiing Podcast, Taos CEO David Norden talks timing and lift types for the many upgrades in the resort’s new master plan.
- The Purgatory Express is closed due to technical problems yet again.
- Whiteface details summer updates to Cloudsplitter, Face Lift and Freeway in addition to the new Bear quad.
Taos Ski Valley is in the final stages of crafting a new Master Development Plan which will guide improvements at the ski area over the next decade. The big news is the resort seeks to build a second gondola from the Resort Center to Kachina Basin, which would spin in both winter and summer and relieve pressure off Lifts 1 and 2. “This is probably the number one request we’ve received,” said Director of Operations John Kelly at a public forum last week. He called the gondola a “better and more efficient way to move people between the main base area to the backside and Kachina Basin.” This signature lift would span approximately 7,200 feet with a vertical rise around 850 feet. Capacity and cabin size have not yet determined but the gondola would accommodate bikes and improve access to summer operations surrounding Lift 4.
Taos also intends to replace six existing lifts. “We’ve made some really great strides in the last couple years replacing the old Strawberry Hill lifts, Lift 1 and adding Kachina Peak but the remainder of our lifts are pushing 30 to 40 years old,” said Kelly. “We have an incredible lift maintenance team that will keep these lifts going safely as long as we need but at some point we need to upgrade to new infrastructure, technology and faster uphill capacity.” Top priorities are the aforementioned Lifts 2 and 4, both early ’90s Poma fixed quads with long ride times. Later in the decade, Taos looks to address Lifts 7 and 7A, the last two remaining Stadeli machines on the hill. Taos will also consider replacing Lifts 8 and Pioneer (to accommodate the gondola and improve the layout for beginners.) New lifts will utilize a mix of fixed and detachable technology. One project from the 2010 master plan which will no longer proceed is the Ridge lift, proposed for West Basin near Lift 8. Taos would like to keep current hike-to ridge access as is.
Unlike many mountains releasing new master plans these days, Taos does not want to expand its permit area or grow skier visits. “Being surrounded by wilderness is a competitive advantage for our resort,” said Kelly. In fact, the new plan is designed to comfortably accommodate 280,000 to 300,000 annual skiers, down from around 350,000 the resort attracted in the mid-1990s. The resort does seek to expand summer visitation, which will focus on natural activities such as hiking, via ferrata and mountain biking rather than coasters or zip lines. “We really think nature-based recreation is what’s best for Taos and supports our better, not bigger philosophy,” noted Kelly.
Comments may be sent to MDPFeedback@skitaos.com before the plan heads to the Forest Service in a few weeks. Once the final plan is accepted, individual projects will still be subject to environmental review and public comment periods before being implemented.
- Arapahoe Basin ends its Epic Pass partnership with Vail Resorts due to concerns about parking and crowding.
- A year into Ikon, Alterra Chief Marketing Officer Erik Forsell talks about the new season pass landscape.
- Vail takes stock at Crested Butte and may or may not build the Teo II lifts proposed by Triple Peaks.
- As rumored, Vail is acquiring Falls Creek and Mt. Hotham in Australia for $124 million.
- The Spanish ski resort that closed when a chair fell from its Yan detachable quad reopens with uploading via snowcat.
- The San Diego Fire Department performs a successful over water night evacuation of the Bayside Skyride at SeaWorld San Diego.
- Timberline Four Seasons Resort, which has struggled with lift breakdowns and other issues of late, is closed this weekend and could be placed in receivership.
- Snow Valley missed all of President’s weekend will remain closed indefinitely due to road damage. Mountain High is kindly honoring their season passes during the shutdown.
- In France, a six year old is seriously injured after her head gets stuck between a chair armrest and safety bar.
- As a new lawsuit against The Hermitage Club alleges fraud, club founder Jim Barnes tells members a revised reorganization plan is coming soon.
- The New York Times visits the new Taos and its four new lifts.
- Not everyone is happy about changes at Powder Mountain.
- LST Ropeways is still working to repair the company’s first detachable chairlift, which missed its entire first winter, some of last winter and all of this one thus far.
- 49 Degrees North had a challenging weekend with one lift rope evacuated/down for the season and another losing a chair with people on it.
- As Aspen Mountain considers a Telemix combination lift, the Aspen Daily News looks back at other unique lifts in Pitkin County history.
- Purden Ski Village in BC is for sale at $1.7 million USD ($2.2 million CAD). The area operates two doubles and a T-Bar, all built by Mueller.
- Snowbird’s Chickadee has a new tower that hangs from a bridge.
- The final Disney Skyliner towers rise from a lake and one station gets a mural.
- Peak Pass sales are pacing ahead of last year by 19 percent in units and 22 percent in dollars despite increased northeast competition from Vail and Alterra.
- The shut down Hermitage Club expects to close on $25-30 million in financing around Thanksgiving. One potential reopening complication: the chairlifts haven’t been touched by mechanics since March.
- A new trail map shows the locations of Killington’s three new lifts.
- Beech Mountain is rocking two new quad chairs this winter and an all new trail map.
- Taos has an updated map to go along with its high speed quad.
- A planning document shows Big White has applied to build two lifts east of Black Forest Express called Backcountry and Backcountry Connector.
- Snow King Mountain’s expansion officially enters the National Environmental Policy Act pipeline. Proposed lifts are a 1,500 pph gondola with cabin storage, a 3,015′ backside fixed-grip quad, one 679′ T-Bar or platter and two new carpets.
- The iconic Volkswagen funitel marks 15 years of operation, having delivered over three million vehicles from factory to test track.
- A proposed urban gondola in Loveland, Colorado would be built by Leitner-Poma with up to five stations.
- Arapahoe Basin drops its new trail map showing the big Beavers expansion.
- An avalanche takes out the last tower of a Doppelmayr six-pack in New Zealand.
- Skytrac is hiring for project foreman and general construction positions.
- Denver Post alum Jason Blevins, now writing for the Colorado Sun, traces the remarkable ski industry journey of the Mueller family from Vermont to Colorado. Insights from his must read piece: Tim and Diane Mueller took out a second mortgage on their home to buy Okemo, invested in Catamount before it failed, nearly bought Steamboat and once bid to operate Winter Park.
- Windham’s retired F lift heads to Greek Peak to upgrade lifts 3 and 5.
- The New Mexico State Fair will sport a new skyride-style chairlift beginning next month.
- Alterra Mountain Company hires an Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer from Wall Street and looks to name a Vice President of Planning and Resort Development.
- Enjoy the most detailed glimpse yet of the world’s longest lift.
- The name game continues: Wolf Creek’s newest high speed quad is now Charity.
- One of the world’s oldest high speed quads is going away in favor of a six pack.
- I’m in New Mexico this weekend checking out as many lifts as I can. First stop: Taos, where this yet-to-be-named Leitner-Poma detachable quad is the fourth new lift in five years!
- Telluride weighs building at least one big detachable next summer as the Forest Service tentatively approves replacements for Plunge, Sunshine Express and Village Express.
- White Pass, WA retires its platter in favor of a 380’ carpet.
- LiftDigital goes live for testing at Winter Park.
- Taos says goodbye to two more chairlifts – that’s four in one summer!
- Song Mountain, NY is replacing its 1965 Thunderbird T-Bar with a chairlift.
Anyone know where it’s from?
- The Rainforest Adventures crew gets one Skytrac back in action and works to repair the other following Irma’s devastation of St. Maarten.
- Scroll through these photos of a new high-speed quad in Switzerland with four stations, three sections, two haul ropes and only one drive!
- Albany gondola group to be led by former chief executive of the New York State Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration Thomas Madison, Jr.
- Authorities briefly seize Granby Ranch, site of last season’s fatal lift incident, over delinquent taxes.
- Spout Springs in Oregon won’t open for a second year in a row and remains for sale.
- Mi Teleférico’s Orange Line did 93,847 riders its first weekend.
- Frank F. sent over these photos of the new Skytrac Buttercup Quad going in at Mt. Hood Meadows:
- Owing $3.8 million to creditors, Deer Mountain, SD to be sold to the highest bidder in a sheriff’s sale today. The mountain has two Riblet chairlifts.
- Curbed counts down 11 gondolas changing the way people move through cities.
- Steamboat sells off triple chairs from Four Points in 28 minutes (the lift got new Doppelmayr ones in 2012.)
- Taos offloads 200 chairs from lifts 5 and 6 for $200 each with proceeds going to hurricane relief. As of this writing, 37 remain.
- Leitner Ropeways’ new gondola at the world’s largest hotel transported 3.5 million passengers in its first eight months.
- Aspen Mountain installs Bluetooth speakers in Silver Queen Gondola cabins.
- China Peak completes its first quad chair, the old Elkhead from Steamboat.
- The Burnaby Mountain Gondola is back on the table.
- Leitner-Poma of America inks contract to build a US$7.1 million high-speed quad at Falls Creek in Australia.
- Vail Resorts launches interactive website with lift downtime and wait time data for last season at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Park City.
- Belleayre’s gondola cabins arrive from across the pond. Unfortunately, the name of the lift is spelled wrong on all of them.
- Ski Magazine predicts the KSL-Aspen duo will benefit skiers with a second Epic-style season pass and major resort upgrades.
- Skytrac and Timberline Helicopters fly towers for the new East Rim lift at Whitefish. Thanks Buzz D. for these cool photos.
- Belleayre’s new gondola may not have much vertical but will be more than 6,700 feet long.
- New photo tours of the upcoming Orange and White lines in La Paz show how gondolas can be adapted to the urban landscape with innovative station designs.
- Urban gondolas were profiled prominently in Sunday’s New York Times.
- Skytrac will finish the Stagecoach lift at Big Sky this fall, a project which Moonlight Basin began in 2008. In addition, Challenger and the Tram are getting new haul ropes and Powder Seeker a chair storage facility. Thanks William Bryan for the photos.
- At Spanish Peaks, the Flatiron lift will be next to go in.
- BMF drops one of the Brest Cable Car’s cabins from a crane while performing annual maintenance. One-cabin operation will continue while Gangloff builds a new one over the next six to nine months.
- Taos releases renderings of its re-imagined learning center featuring new Leitner-Poma and Skytrac lifts.
- Thank you Michael Weise for these sweet photos of Eldora’s six-pack progress:
In 2008, a 53-year old Taos Ski Valley welcomed snowboarders for the first time in a move that once seemed unthinkable. Then a game-changing new lift up 12,481’ Kachina Peak debuted in 2015, serving terrain accessible only by hiking for six prior decades. This season, the renaissance continued with the opening of the slopeside Blake Hotel and announcement that Taos would be the first ski resort in the world to become a B Corporation, joining the likes of Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s. Now we learn Taos will launch a re-imagined beginner facility with two new lifts next season and will finally join 167 of its North American counterparts with the opening of its first detachable quad in 2018. Talk about a transformation.
This off-season will see complete renewal of the beginner complex with the removal of two lifts and the addition of two new ones. Stadeli doubles Rueggli (1991, the old lift 2) and Strawberry Hill (1970) will be retired and the area around them re-contoured. A new Skytrac fixed-grip triple will better serve beginners and a six-passenger pulse gondola will link a remodeled children’s ski school to the Resort Center. “This gondola is going to be a huge improvement, connecting our newly designed Children’s Center with our new hotel and plaza base area,” Director of Operations John Kelly told me. “The terrain associated with these new lifts will be getting a full redesign and regrade to widen and enhance our beginner terrain.” The new lifts are in addition to the Pioneer lift, a triple chair that arrived from Deer Valley in 2012.
Rising to mid-mountain, a Leitner-Poma high-speed quad will replace lifts 1 and 5 in 2018. The 2010 Taos Master Plan envisioned a 7000′ detachable rising all the way to the summit and replacing Lift 6 as well, but that plan appears to have been modified. The long-awaited foray into detachable lifts follows construction of five new Poma and Skytrac fixed-grips at Taos since 1989. What may be called Al’s Express will most likely reach the summit of the existing lift 5, a 1973 Stadeli double chair that only operates on peak mornings. The new lift will also replace Lift 1, a 1989 Poma Alpha quad that ends 400 feet lower than 5 and serves as today’s primary out-of-base lift. After 2018, the remaining largest ski resorts in North America without a detachable lift will be Red Mountain, 49 Degrees North, Loveland and Bridger Bowl.
This will be the first joint project since Skytrac joined the Leitner-Poma Group last spring and plays to both companies’ strengths. Skytrac will supply the fixed-grip chair while Leitner-Poma will bring its expertise to build the gondola and detachable.
Even after these changes, Taos will retain three classic Stadeli lifts on the upper mountain. Lift 6 dates back to 1976 and 7A was installed in 1990 with used parts from 1 and 2. Maxi’s (lift 7) is a 1984 Stadeli triple. Both lifts 4 and 7 are identified for eventual replacement in the 2010 Taos Master Plan along with a second lift to the ridge. I think Taos skiers (and snowboarders) will find the new lifts a welcome change with friendlier beginner options and a 4.5 minute ride to the heart of the mountain. Welcome to the 21st century, Taos!