News Roundup: Pass Wars

  • The latest Wir highlights Doppelmayr Connect, various drive concepts and the Sweetwater Gondola.
  • U.S. skier visits climbed 3.7 percent last season to 54.7 million.  479 ski areas operated in 2016-17, up from 464.
  • Silverton Mountain is not a fan of the Epic Pass.
  • Royal Gorge Bridge & Park considers chairlift down to the Arkansas River.
  • Intrawest re-invested 8 percent of revenues at its resorts between 2013 and 2017 (compared with 11 percent across Vail Resorts.)  The company had 173 interested buyers, 16 of which were ski industry players.
  • Early summer update from the Magic Mountain rebirth and Green Chair project.
  • Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group buys Frey AG Stans, a leading global provider of ropeway control systems.
  • Lifts from the defunct Talisman Mountain Resort have been sold; one is headed to Sunridge, Alberta.
  • Granby Ranch investigation update.
  • LA mayor suggests gondola to the Hollywood sign from Universal Studios.
  • Ghost Town in Maggie Valley, NC goes up for sale, including Carlevaro-Savio chairlift that last operated in 2012.
  • Nonprofit nearing purchase of Frost Fire, ND, hopes to repair two chairlifts and reopen skiing next winter.
  • Government considers building world’s longest gondola into the world’s largest cave in Vietnam.
  • Here’s a recap of what we missed at Interalpin.
  • Lutsen Mountains’ six-lift expansion plan moves forward.
  • The Denver Post reports a joint Aspen/Intrawest/KSL/Mammoth pass is in the works for 2018-19, meaning the Mountain Collective could lose seven members and 43 percent of its lifts.  The MAX Pass might fare better, losing the six Intrawest resorts and 85 lifts (20 percent.)  I chart one scenario below.

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News Roundup: Building

  • talk six-packs with the Vail Daily.
  • Heavenly’s Comet Express remains closed following a Jan. 1st rope evacuation, apparently due to a gearbox issue.  This is one of the reasons Vail Resorts is replacing its fleet of 1980s-vintage detachable quads.
  • Doppelmayr and the United Nations are hosting a week-long urban mobility ropeway class in April.
  • The New York Times tells the tale of Big Sky Resort.
  • Ski patroller severely injured in fall from chair at Terry Peak.
  • Gondola proposed to serve airport in Vietnam’s congested largest city.
  • BC Parks considers a gondola to Mt. Seymour to alleviate parking and traffic problems.
  • Ski Area Management‘s lift construction survey dropped this week.  Highlights from its outlook for 2017:
    • “We’re off to a strong year for ’17, there are lots of people asking about lifts…It’s very positive compared to the previous two years.” – Jon Mauch, Senior Sales Manager at Leitner-Poma
    • “There’s a lot of enthusiasm about what could happen under a Trump administration.  People expect deregulation and a more business-friendly climate.” – Mark Bee, President at Doppelmayr USA
    • “We’re seeing lots of requests quotes, lots of major modifications and retrofits…It’s all being driven by the age of the existing lift infrastructure.” – Carl Skylling, General Manager at Skytrac
    • I’ve already identified 29 new lifts likely to be built in 2017, pacing well above the last few years for mid-January.
  • Slovakian manufacturer Tatralift debuts its third detachable lift using a Wopfner grip.  That makes seven companies capable of building a detachable lift globally – BartholetBMHRI (China), Doppelmayr/Garaventa (Austria), LeitnerPoma (Italy), LST (France), STM (Turkey) and Tatralift (Slovakia.)

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News Roundup: Champagne

News Roundup: Signs of Life

News Roundup: BMF Builds a Gondola

News Roundup: Penkenbahn

  • After several high-profile incidents, a good reminder from the NSAA that 86 percent of falls from chairlifts can be attributed to rider error.
  • Lots of questions surround last week’s skier-pushes-snowboarder-off-lift story from Aspen Highlands.  Police say even without an arrest made, the public is not in any danger.
  • Bravo to Bristol Mountain for actually pressing charges against a freeloading teen for theft of services.
  • Only at a tiny mountain in Maine would volunteer ski patrollers derail a double chair they are also responsible for inspecting.
  • An Austrian man is in a coma after the harness he was wearing around his neck became entangled with a platter lift carrier.  At least one lift operator may not have been at his or her assigned post.
  • Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe is for sale.
  • Fun Spot America near Orlando looks to add a gondola ride (thanks Jay T. for the tip.)
  • Dignitaries break ground at Laurel Mountain in preparation for a November re-opening.
  • A mix of public and private groups including Georgetown University are about to spend $250k to study a gondola linking Rosslyn, Virginia with Georgetown (one of Washington, D.C.’s highest-profile neighborhoods without a metro station.)
  • The Balsams Wilderness won’t re-open in 2016 after all.  A revised timeline has three new and two existing lifts spinning in late 2017.
  • This is our 200th post!

News Roundup: Resort Happenings

  • Hidden Valley, New Jersey will reopen as the National Winter Activity Center this month with two new Partek lifts.
  • The Balsams crosses another hurdle which could mean new lifts in the New Hampshire high country as early as this summer.
  • Sunshine Village hopes to have the Goat’s Eye Express running by today.

  • Construction at Laurel Mountain is 30% complete and ahead of schedule.  The state-owned mountain will open next winter for the first time since 2005 with a brand new SkyTrac quad.
  • Magic Mountain only managed to open one lift last winter and may not spin any this season.  The Vermont area had five aerial lifts in its heyday.
  • CNL Lifestyle Properties, the real estate investment trust that was slated to wind down by Dec. 31st, only sold one of its 16 mountain resorts by that date.  Okemo, Northstar, Big Sky and a dozen others will remain for sale into 2016.
  • Aspen Skiing Company will submit the Pandora terrain expansion and chairlift to the Forest Service for review in 2016.
  • Girl uninjured after mis-loading, dangling by her helmet and falling 20 feet from a chair in Saskatchewan.
  • Thanks to some much-needed snow, Vermont now has a third six-pack with bubble chairs and heated seats.  This one’s not open to the public, unfortunately.

News Roundup: Flying Volkswagens

  • Gunther Jochl, the Austrian-born owner of Sugar Mountain, got the CEOs of both Doppelmayr and CWA to come christen his new six-pack Saturday along with the governor of North Carolina.  Apparently the lift may get gondola cabins in the future.
  • A lawsuit from a homeowner could force the closure of Pennsylvania’s second largest ski resort. Seven Springs Mountain Resort operates two six-packs and eight fixed-grip lifts on 300 acres.  Unfortunately, four of those lifts and 75 percent of the mountain’s ski runs cross a public road that the homeowner wants opened in winter.  There are plenty of other ski resorts that have major highways passing through that close seasonally, including Deer Valley, Bridger Bowl and Mt. Baker.
  • Cherry Peak, the new ski area in Utah, won’t be able to complete their Summit lift in time for this season.  When I was there a few months ago, towers were laying on the ground along the line which will either have to be set or moved elsewhere.  Two other triple chairs and a carpet are set to go.
  • Arizona Snowbowl’s first new lift in 30 years is almost finished.
  • An 8.5 mile gondola system coming to Missouri’s Las Vegas?
  • Bartholet’s aerial tramway across the city of Puebla in Mexico will be finished December 15th, about a year behind schedule.  Speaking of BMF, they have a new website.
  • The Balsams clears some more hurdles but has still yet to break ground.
  • Staying on the mega-resort topic, Hemlock Resort near Chilliwack, BC receives approval to spend $1.5 billion on 23 new lifts and 20,000 lodging beds among other improvements over the next 60 years.  Hemlock currently has a 1977-vintage Doppelmayr triple and two even older Mueller doubles.  Buried in the linked article is the fact that the ski area never opened last year due to lack of snow.

    Hemlock Master Plan rendering from Brent Harley & Associates.
    Hemlock Master Plan rendering from Brent Harley & Associates.

News Roundup: Tower Time

Sugarloaf's oldest lift towers come down. Photo credit: Sugarloaf Mountain Resort
Sugarloaf’s oldest lift towers come down. Photo credit: Sugarloaf Mountain Resort
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News Roundup: Adding Lifts

Poma Omega sample cabin  for Jackson Hole's new Sweetwater Gondola.
Poma Sigma sample cabin for Jackson Hole’s new Sweetwater Gondola.
  • The Balsams mega-project gets snowmaking water permit and releases its phase one plan which includes six new lifts.  That will be the contract of the year next summer if it really happens.
  • The owners of Saddleback have extended the deadline to find financing for a new lift before pulling the plug on this season.
  • Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe announces an $11.00 minimum wage for all resort employees next season.
  • Kitzbuhel in Austria will add another 8-passenger bubble lift for next season to be built by Leitner.
  • France’s Avoriaz also announced a new Poma six-pack.
  • Whistler will add the Creekside Gondola to its Bike Park starting Friday.  The gondola has been outfitted with the latest Deasonbuilt center-pole bike carriers.  Creekside will become Whistler-Blackcomb’s 11th lift open for summer operations including three gondolas and six detachable quads.
  • The Neptuno double chair (Poma) in Las Lenas de-roped off 5 towers last week thanks to an avalanche.  See photo below.
Deropement off 5 towers in Las Lenas.  Photo credit: Snowbrains.com
Five towers de-roped in Las Lenas after an avalanche. Photo credit: Snowbrains.com