News Roundup: Interalpin

  • Revelstoke homeowners aren’t happy lift development has stalled for almost ten years now.  The resort’s response identifies master plan lifts 1 and 11 as the highest priorities but notes construction of them is subject to market demand.
  • In an interview, new Crystal Mountain owner John Kircher says he wants to build a second gondola to Campbell Basin.
  • NY State Fair gondola continues to be targeted as an example of government waste.
  • Whaleback’s T-Bar project is a go.  The lift came from Plattekill, NY and will be installed by SkyTrans.
  • New Gatlinburg Sky Lift looks to be almost finished.
  • Poma reaches agreement to build new gondolas in Vietnam with the first next-generation Sigma Diamond EVO cabins introduced yesterday at Interalpin.  The new cabins offer more natural light and feature doors that slide rather than opening out.
  • Move over D-Line: the new Leitner Station is here.
  • LST gets another detachable contract.
  • Leitner launches urban gondola in Berlin.
  • Skier visits at Vail Resorts were down 2.8 percent this season but lift ticket revenue increased 7.4 percent.
  • Mi Teleférico opens $1.5 million Operations Control Center with 22 people monitoring 1,300 surveillance cameras on 66 screens and lightning detection system for four gondola lines.
  • Purgatory will add a mid-station to its Needles triple this summer.

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: Investments

  • MND Group’s LST Ropeways subsidiary invested $4.3 million and hired 25 people to develop detachable product that is now available worldwide.
  • Cleveland Planning Commission considers nine-station gondola network.
  • Arizona Republic takes a deep dive into Grand Canyon Escalade cultural and natural resource issues.
  • Big investments are likely coming to Steamboat, Winter Park and the rest of the resorts KSL and Aspen acquired this week.
  • Leitner has a new iPhone-like control system called LeitControl.
  • Are there too many urban gondola ideas?
  • Revelstoke will add 24 cabins to the Revelation Gondola this summer along with 21 chairs to The Stoke to address sometimes epic lift lines.
  • Mechanics in New Zealand work to repair the fire-damaged lift at Christchurch Adventure Park.
  • New York State Fair Gondola funding slammed by politicians and citizens alike.
  • Vail Mountain proposes 1,870 foot fixed-grip lift above the Riva Bahn mid-station on Golden Peak.vailgoldenpeakexpansion

News Roundup: Colorado

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Likely new lifts for 2017 are pacing 39 percent ahead of last year, when 28 new lifts had been announced on this date.  I’ve identified 39 lift projects for 2017 and if last year’s pattern holds, lift manufacturers will build approximately 57 new ropeways in N. America in 2017, the most since 2004.  We’ll know by about July 1.

Going Blue: Fourth Gondola Line to Launch Friday in La Paz

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The world’s largest urban gondola network leaps forward this week with the addition of the Línea Azul (Blue Line) in the Bolivian twin cities of La Paz and El Alto. Since debuting with just one line in May 2014, the state-owned Mi Teleférico (My Cable Car) system has now transported more than 75 million passengers on its Green, Yellow, and Red gondolas.  In 2015, My Cable Car committed $450 million to build six additional lines through 2020, and it ordered two more last year.  Mi Teleférico has quickly become one of Doppelmayr’s largest customers, exclusively utilizing the Austrian company’s ten-passenger monocable detachable gondola technology.

Los trabajos de pruebas se realizan para cumplir con normas internacionales que serán completadas el año entrante y antes de que la #LíneaAzul comience a brindar servicio a la población en 2017. Resaltar que el objetivo de #MiTeleférico es ofrecer una óptima #seguridad de operación y calidad de servicio a los usuarios. La línea Azul inicia en inmediaciones de la Estación Jach´a Qhathu de la línea Roja (16 de Julio – El Alto) y se extenderá en dirección a la Plaza Libertad, continuando por la avenida La Paz, pasando por la UPEA y arribando a la estación de servicio en el cruce de Río Seco. *Características: Tiempo de viaje: 20 minutos (aproximadamente) Longitud de la línea: 4,9 kilómetros Número de cabinas: 208

A post shared by Mi Teleférico (@miteleferico) on

Construction commenced on Línea Azul in late May 2015 with cable pulling (by drone!) wrapping in September 2016.  The first cabin launched later that month with Bolivian President Evo Morales taking the inaugural ride in November.  After three more months of terminal buildout and system testing, the Blue line’s five stations are ready for show time.  Línea Azul is La Paz’s longest to date, with 208 CWA Omega IV-10-LWI cabins that will cover an impressive 32,700 feet per revolution beginning March 3rd, just 645 days after groundbreaking.

Like the Red, Yellow and Green lines, the Blue line is actually two lifts with two separate haul ropes and two drive systems with cabins transferring between them.  Nearly all of the Mi Teleférico network will be built this way, with multiple haul rope loops forming single “lines” with two to five stations each (most have either three or four.)  Multi-stage gondolas operating with this principle in North America include Whistler Village and Excalibur at Whistler Blackcomb, Panorama at Mammoth and Revelation at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

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New York Governor Announces Gondola & Skyride at State Fair

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A not-so-accurate rendering of a proposed gondola at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, NY.

A $15 million gondola system will connect the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse to a nearby amphitheater, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this morning.  “This is very, very exciting and it brings the energy of both facilities together for a synergy between the two,” Cuomo noted, calling the planned gondola “world class.”  The lift’s 38 cabins will cross Interstate 690 along a 3,700′ route.  The project still requires federal approval but is scheduled for completion in June 2018.

The gondola will link more than 15,000 parking spaces at the fair to the 17,500-seat Lakeview Amphitheater, which will host major acts such as Zac Brown Band and Third Eye Blind this summer.  The amphitheater gondola station will also serve Onondaga Lake Park and its network of popular trails.  The state- and county-owned facilities are currently connected by shuttle buses operating on a circuitous route during major events.  Capacity of the eight-passenger lift will be 1,200 passengers per hour.  An expansion to 75 cabins would achieve an ultimate capacity of 2,400 per hour.  A manufacturer has not yet been selected and the state will hold a competitive bid process in the coming months.

A separate, privately-funded and operated skyride lift will also be built this spring, traveling 1,500 feet over the fairgrounds with between 100 and 120 double chairs.  Dozens of fairs across the country operate either chairlifts or gondolas for fair-goers, among them a new Skytrac ride at Cal Expo, a Partek chairlift at the North Carolina State Fair and the Texas Skyway gondola built at the Texas State Fair in 2007.

Governor Cuomo also announced $20 million in improvements at the state-owned Belleayre, Gore Mountain and Whiteface ski resorts today, including a new enclosed upper terminal building for Gore’s Northwoods Gondola and a new lift connecting Whiteface’s learning center to mid-station.  New York State owns more lifts than any other state – 27 in total – including the Roosevelt Island Tramway.  The government has been a frequent customer of both Doppelmayr and Leitner-Poma over the years.

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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A Look Forward to 2017

This New Year’s Day, I thought I’d review Lift Blog’s second year and make a few predictions for 2017.  In 2016, North American lift construction reached a post-recession high, with large new lifts debuting at Arizona Snowbowl, Big Sky and Jackson Hole.  In April, we learned Leitner-Poma acquired Skytrac, changing the manufacturer landscape in North America again.  LST built its first detachable lift in France (although it’s not quite finished yet) bringing another player to the global market.  2016 also saw number of lifts catch fire and others fall apart.  Here’s a rundown of our most-clicked-on posts of 2016:

10. Yan High Speed Quad Retrofits 20 Years Later
9. In His Own Words: Carl Skylling of Skytrac on the Leitner-Poma Acquisition
8. New Owner Plans to Reopen Stagecoach, Colorado in 2017
7. First Look at Big Sky’s Powder Seeker Six and Challenger 2.0
6. Big Sky 2025: A $150 Million Vision for the Next Decade on Lone Peak
5. Sweetwater Gondola September Update from Jackson Hole
4. Construction Underway on New Lifts at Big Sky
3. Ober Gatlinburg Survives Fire, Sky Lift Fate Unknown
2. Sunday River Lift Severely Damaged as Terminal Falls
1. Big Sky Flies Towers for America’s Most High-Tech Chairlift

Blog wise, readership increased five-fold with more than 700 reader comments in 2016. Lift Blog now has 750 Instagram followers and almost 500 likes on Facebook.  I even started Tweeting.  Now a few predictions for 2017…

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There was a lot less purple on this map on 1/1/2016, particularly in the Northeast.
  1. North America will build more than fifty lifts for the first time since 2007.  I’ve already identified 28 likely to be built this construction season with the announcement window really just beginning. American consumer confidence is at its highest level since 2001 and the snow is deep in every major ski region of North America.
  2. An American or Canadian city will commit to building a purpose-built gondola for public transportation.  New York City, Washington, Albany and Vancouver are likely candidates but there are dozens more possibilities.
  3. Vail Resorts will go East.  Since October 2010, Vail has acquired a new ski resort every nine months on average.  That puts the next purchase approximately May 2017.  A major New England or Mid-Atlantic mountain going Epic seems only a matter of time.  Wherever it goes, Vail Resorts will invest heavily in new lifts.

Tune in over the next year to see how I do.

News Roundup: Climbing

  • Suicide Six debuts new Leitner-Poma quad chair, Red River opens its new Doppelmayr quad.
  • Sundance employees rush a ladder to a chair, climb up and pull a hanging child back up in just minutes.  A man at Seven Springs fares worse.
  • Two of Canada’s richest families still plan to build $3.5 billion ski resort near Squamish.
  • Telluride Mountain Village Gondola turns 20.
  • Jay Peak’s tram is back in action.
  • The AP runs a story on future urban gondolas in the United States.
  • Cannon Mountain’s new LST T-Bar goes down ahead of dedication.
  • If you enjoy this blog, Ski Inc. is a must read.

Poma to Build World’s First 3S Dedicated to Public Transportation

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A new 3S gondola will open in Toulouse, France in 2020, becoming the first dedicated tri-cable gondola system for public transport.

In its home country of France, Poma Ropeways has won a $56 million tender to realize the first 3S gondola designed entirely for public transport. Téléphérique Urbain Sud (South Urban Cable Car) will link two hospitals to Paul Sabatier University in the city of Toulouse. You may know France’s fourth largest city, with 1.2 million inhabitants, as the global headquarters of the Airbus Group.

The gondola’s 1.9 mile route will ascend a 300-foot hill called Pech David before crossing the Garonne waterway.  Factors leading to the selection of a 3S over a MGD were the need for long spans between towers (just 5 required instead of 20), the ability to more easily transport wheelchairs/bicycles as well as wind tolerance.  Fourteen 35-passenger Sigma Symphony cabins will circulate between three stations with an hourly capacity of 1,500 passengers per direction.  At 5 m/s, the system will achieve headways of just 90 seconds and a trip will take ten minutes each way, a 20-minute improvement from today in a car.  Like other successful urban gondola projects, riders of the 3S will be able to use existing fare media and easily transfer to and from metro trains or buses.  Additional stages are likely to be added to the ends of the new gondola in the future.

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