- 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.
When the family that operates Timberline Lodge & Ski Area bought nearby Summit Ski Area last year, an interconnect immediately entered the realm of possibility. The Forest Service recently accepted RLK and Company’s new Summit Master Development Plan, which includes a 10 passenger gondola from the Summit base area in Government Camp to historic Timberline Lodge. The combined resort would feature a vertical drop exceeding 4,500 feet, longest in the United States with all lifts open.
A Timberline Gondola would span 12,952 feet with a vertical ascent of 1,890′. It would require a boundary expansion of 228 acres between the top of Summit’s Homestead double chair and the bottom of Timberline’s Jeff Flood Express. Importantly, the Summit base area would become a transit and parking hub for both mountains, reducing congestion and parking demands at higher elevations. An approximately 30,000 square foot base lodge would replace the existing one at Summit. Guests from Portland would save almost 12 miles of driving each day, instead enjoying an 11 minute flight from Government Camp to the base of Timberline’s Magic Mile quad. “The gondola would not only provide direct, aerial access to Timberline from the Summit’s base area, for both guests and employees, it would also alleviate the congestion on Oregon Highway 173 and re-prioritize the need for additional parking at the bottom of Timberline’s Molly’s Chairlift,” notes the master plan, which was prepared by SE Group. The gondola would travel up to 1,200 feet per minute with a capacity of 2,400 passengers per hour in each direction. It would operate approximately nine hours per day in both winter and summer, serving skiers, snowboarders, sightseers and mountain bikers.
Additionally, the plan prescribes replacing Summit’s 1980 Riblet double with a fixed grip quad called Summit Pass. This lift would parallel the gondola for 1,933 feet and terminate at 4,290 feet in elevation. “By upgrading the existing chairlift conveyance, the overall guest experience would improve by having updated lift technology, allowing ski school and parties of four or less to ride the chairlift together,” the plan notes. Capacity would increase from 1,200 per hour to 2,000. A new carpet lift would also be installed.
The Forest Service’s acceptance of the master plan does not constitute approval of individual projects and, if approved, gondola construction is likely still years away. Timberline’s immediate next lift project is set to be a detachable replacement for Pucci, benefiting beginner and intermediate skiers. The gondola link would be even more impactful with major environmental and guest service benefits year round.
- Vail Resorts stalwart Chris Jarnot will depart later this year and the mountain division he leads will be split into three regions.
- The latest Epic by Nature episode explores the rise of the Epic Pass and welcoming of a competitor.
- Police confirm the Sea to Sky Gondola cable was definitely cut.
- The Hermitage may still be sold whole although Lakeland Bank gets the go-ahead to repossess 48 snow guns.
- Garaventa is building a one of a kind six pack in Switzerland with 180 degree loading.
- The Forest Service anticipates making a decision on Timberline’s Pucci chairlift replacement project in November.
- Ikon adds Zermatt Matterhorn, the first European destination and first with a 3S gondola on the pass.
- The operator of urban gondolas in Bolivia says the mechanic who died last month did not follow procedures.
- The Disney Skyliner may face a strong hurricane less than a month before opening.
- Wolf Creek readies the D. Boyce detachable Pomalift for a return to service with a new haul rope.
- Granite Gorge and an insurance company settle their lawsuit involving a broken double chairlift.
- The Aspen Mountain Pandora’s expansion hits a snag.
- Leitner-Poma gears up for a busy next few years with multi-resort, multi-lift contracts and possible urban lifts.
- Attitash’s Summit triple is down indefinitely again, this time with a gearbox issue. Peak Resorts executives say even if they wanted to replace the lift with a detachable, there is about a two year wait with both lift companies.
- Northstar California partially evacuates the Promised Land Express by rope on a busy Sunday.
- The new master plan for Timberline Lodge prescribes replacing Pucci with a detachable quad and Bruno’s with a series of carpets.
- At Pajarito, Townsight will end up missing the entire season due to unspecified mechanical issues.
- Alyeska retires its last of seven Riblet double chairlifts, Tanaka.
- A six year old falls 29 feet from an Eldora chairlift after failing to load properly and a petition is asking for policy changes.
- The founder of The Hermitage Club is contesting a no trespass order.
- A child falls from Park City’s Silverlode Express.
- Architectural Digest profiles leading resort design firm SE Group.
- Leitner will build what is sure to become an iconic 3S gondola between Switzerland and Italy from 2021.
- 2019/20 Ikon Passes go on sale March 5th and are virtually unchanged from this season’s versions.
- Tuesday is also the day you should vote if you live in Aspen.
- Timberline, West Virginia throws in the towel and the local paper has an update on the the circumstances.
- A night evacuation takes place at Ski Vorlage.
- James Coleman’s brand new bike park is already a hit.
- Five teenagers perform a flawless catch of a Screaming Eagle lift dangler and earn free Grouse Mountain season passes.
- Somehow a sit skier and lift operator both fall 17 feet from Snowmass’ Elk Camp quad on Tuesday.
- Following a brutal 16 day road closure, Snow Valley eyes a Saturday reopening.
- Bloomberg Businessweek visits the Vail/Alterra HQs and catches up with partners like Boyne Resorts and Telluride.
- Snow King Mountain formally requests approval for a new $8 million gondola which would load along Snow King Avenue in the Town of Jackson, part of a $26 million improvement plan.
- The new Oakland Zoo gondola went down for a bit on Friday and just about every major news outlet in the Bay Area covered it.
- The SilverStar Gondola wasn’t the only new lift to open in Canada last week.
- Sadly, the gondola emoji has been the single least used on Twitter for 76 days.
- Elk Ridge, Arizona is back on the market, indicating the announced sale to Mountain Capital Partners may have fallen through.
- La Paz opens its seventh urban gondola just 366 days after groundbreaking. The Mi Teleférico system has now carried 135 million commuters since the first lines opened in 2014.
- Timberline Lodge confirms it’s eyeing a gondola or chairlift connection from Summit Ski Area, which it bought last week.
- Winter Park is getting the most money for improvements of all the Alterra mountains this year – $26.2 million. More than half of it is going to Leitner-Poma for the big Zephyr Gondola.
- James Coleman explains his ambitious dream to create another Snowbasin out of Nordic Valley.
- Episode 5 of Ski Area Management’s podcast, focusing on risk management, covers lots of lift ground: the Squaw Valley tram accident, a grip slip incident, and challenges Pats Peak faced after buying the Lake Compounce Skyride.
- One Hermitage Club lawsuit yields a $1.5 million judgement against the ski area and another one is filed.
- For the second time in recent memory, a falling cigarette is believed to have started a fire under a lift at Heavenly.
- The State of Massachusetts seeks a new operator for Blue Hills Ski Area.
- A private management company passes on operating Ski Cape Smokey, a nonprofit mountain in Nova Scotia with a broken main chairlift.
- Hunter Mountain is making quick work of the Hunter North expansion.
- Is Peak Resorts spending too much money on capital improvements such as new lifts?
“Ever since the company went public in 2014 it has taken advantage of its improved access to capital to finance large infrastructure projects that may have led to growth in visitation and revenues, but haven’t resulted in better earnings or cash flows.”
The Pacific Northwest’s oldest ski resort has a new owner from just up the road – Timberline Lodge. With its purchase of Summit Ski Area, Timberline parent RLK and Company brings together two of the five ski resorts that surround Oregon’s Mt. Hood. Family-owned Mt. Hood Meadows bought Cooper Spur Mountain Resort back in 2001 and Mt. Hood Ski Bowl is operated by a third local entity. Situated in Government Camp directly below Timberline’s Jeff Flood Express, Summit operates a 1980 Riblet double chair and sells lift tickets for just $35. “We are very pleased with the acquisition and plan to operate Summit Ski Area as a family oriented, affordable, friendly mountain resort,” noted Jeff Kohnstamm, President of Timberline in an afternoon press release.
The long term possibilities of two ski resorts in such close proximity are intriguing. From bullwheel to bullwheel is just under a mile and there is already an unofficial ski trail between the two areas. Total vertical could theoretically reach 4,540 feet – far and away the longest in the Pacific Northwest. But even if the ski resorts never link by ski runs, they could by gondola. Timberline’s news release notes, “With Portland’s population growing rapidly and more people visiting Mt. Hood, Timberline also views Summit Ski Area as an opportunity to help address public transportation and parking needs while having a greater connectivity to Government Camp.” A gondola from Government Camp to Timberline would make a lot of sense because of challenges maintaining a road and parking lots above treeline. There was a gondola lift of sorts way back in the 1950s and RLK has in the past proposed a two stage version along a similar route.
“We look forward to an open-minded approach and discussing opportunities with the community,” says Kohnstamm. “It will be exciting to see what the future holds for Summit, Timberline, Government Camp and all who visit.”
- Poma breaks ground on Medellín’s sixth urban gondola line as Doppelmayr prepares to open La Paz’s sixth on March 24th.
- Gearbox issue strikes Camp Fortune, Quebec and 130 guests are roped off a Blue Mountain quad chair.
- As Beantown weighs a gondola, Boston Globe staff travel to experience Leitner’s Mexicable.
- Boyne Resorts acquires six mountain resorts plus the Gatlinburg Sky Lift it leased from CNL Lifestyle Properties and later Och-Ziff Capital Management. “This opportunity will enable us to accelerate and fine tune the execution of our reinvestment plans for these spectacular properties, which will boost our competitive advantages and support our focus on continuous enhancement of the guest experience,” says Boyne President Stephen Kircher.
- Don’t let this go unpunished at your resort.
- The Australian man who was supposed to buy Maine’s third largest ski resort is caught on tape saying, “We’re not going to deliver on Saddleback,” “Opening the mountain is not a primary concern for us,” and “We’re not going to lose any sleep with regards to it,” acknowledging it was mostly about cashing in on the EB-5 immigrant investor program.
- Triple Peaks’ Okemo, Crested Butte and Mt. Sunapee join the Epic Pass through a long-term alliance with Vail Resorts.
- Anti Edmonton gondola editorial argues “challenges to a gondola could include its operational reliability in a harsh winter climate.” Guess again.
- Pebble Creek joins the growing list of ski areas spinning extra lifts for the Great American Eclipse but there’s one problem: lifts weren’t designed for downloading so guests must walk down!
- The Weather Channel and the BBC will broadcast live from the top of the Jackson Hole Tram on eclipse day.
- Disney and Doppelmayr are building a gondola station in the middle of a lake.
- Mayor of Rossford, Ohio wants to build a gondola across the Maumee River to Toledo.
- Albany gondola idea moves along.
- Metal fatigue eyed in horrific ride incident at the Ohio State Fair (additional photos of the break are here.) The Fair’s SkyGlider chairlift was not involved but temporarily shut down as a precaution.
- Leitner-Poma will build two new lifts at Arapahoe Basin over the next two years. A 400′ Telecorde surface lift called Lazy J Tow will go in this summer to access Montezuma Bowl while the Beavers fixed-grip quad will follow next year.
- Sunshine Village closes again as fire rebounds.
- Intrawest, Mammoth Resorts and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows are now one company owned by KSL, the Crown Family of Aspen Skiing Co. and Rusty Gregory. Currently known as Hawk Holding Company, LLC, a new name and brand will be introduced this fall.
- Rescuers in boats and ladder trucks assist with dramatic evacuation of a bi-cable gondola over the The Rhine in Cologne, Germany.
- Bill Brett, retired GM of Timberline writes about rime and how Palmer almost became Riblet’s first detachable.
- Snowbasin gets an A+ for its latest lift construction update.
- Arizona Snowbowl begins work on its third new lift in three years.
- Gravity is a crazy way to remove an old haul rope.
- Skytrac takes the Instagram plunge.
- Pair of investors nears deal to reopen Cockaigne, NY in 2018-19, a mountain with four Hall lifts that closed in 2011.
- Leitner Ropeways to build a unique two-section gondola in Austria with a single direct drive powering two separately-tensioned haul rope loops.
- Grand Canyon Escalade bill to finally go before the Navajo Nation Council this fall.
- Gulmarg Gondola reopens 39 days after fatal tree accident.
- Doppelmayr inaugurates the first 3S gondola in China with another on the way.
Timberline Lodge & Ski Area is perhaps America’s most unique snowsports destination with year-round skiing on one of the Lower 48’s largest volcanoes. Operated for the last fifty years by RLK & Company on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service, Timberline offers lift-served skiing twelve months a year on 1,400 acres of Mt. Hood. Two million people visit the Lodge and ski area annually which are under 60 miles from Portland, the tenth fastest-growing city in America. Timberline’s ski operation expanded in 2007 to accommodate growing numbers of visitors by adding the Jeff Flood Express in Still Creek Basin. The ski area now has seven lifts with a vertical rise of 3,690 feet, the largest in the Pacific Northwest.
Timberline is also unique in that much of its terrain lies below the Lodge and access road. Visitors drive halfway up the mountain just to leave their car and ski below. Although the mountain offers more alternative transportation options than ever, Timberline’s two-lane access road and relatively small parking lots remain woefully inadequate. Building more parking at 6,000 feet within a National Historic Landmark is not consistent with RLK’s sustainability goals nor those of the Oregon Department of Transportation and U.S. Forest Service to minimize development around the historic lodge.
Timberline Lodge & Ski Area on Mt. Hood posted the following statement on Facebook Thursday afternoon after an empty chair fell from one of its high speed quads.
At approximately 1:45pm today there was a mechanical malfunction on the Magic Mile chair lift. A chair detached from the cable on the downhill side of the lift. The chair lift was not occupied. No customers or staff were involved in the incident. All guests were offloaded in a timely manner. The Magic Mile will be closed until further notice, pending a thorough investigation involving the lift manufacturer and a 3rd party lift engineer. Timberline Lodge thanks all guests on the lift for their patience and apologizes the inconvenience. We are compiling all details of the incident, which will be posted as soon as possible.
Poma built the Magic Mile in 1992 to replace a Riblet double. The lift is 5,472′ long, rises 1,089′ and has Poma’s TB-41 grips. Much of this lift operates above tree line, so both its terminals are housed inside buildings that can be buttoned up during storms. Magic Mile also has indoor parking for all its chairs and grip maintenance bays at the bottom terminal.
Almost exactly a year ago, an empty chair fell from a Doppelmayr detachable quad at Mt. Bachelor in a similar incident which was later blamed on component failure.
Update 4/2/16: Magic Mile has re-opened and Timberline posted the following update this afternoon.
This is a communications update regarding the Magic Mile chairlift malfunction, which we reported on March 31. The lift has been inspected by an independent chairlift engineer along with representatives from the US Forest Service. It was determined that failure of a key component of a carrier grip occurred, resulting in the detachment of an empty chair on the downhill side of the lift.
RLK and Company chairlift technicians followed the recommendations of the chairlift engineer and performed comprehensive inspections and testing on the entire chairlift. It has been determined that the chairlift conforms to industry standards, and is now operating.
Update 5/1/16: We’ve learned Magic Mile’s safety systems worked as designed and this incident was a combination of component failure and operator error.