- An in-depth look at the history of urban gondolas and what comes next.
- Buttermilk will open with full skier services and groomed runs April 8-9 but with no lifts.
- Hesperus reopens following two week closure to address deferred lift maintenance.
- Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation proposes operating Howelsen Hill.
- Giants Ridge puts a Riblet up for sale in advance of new lift construction. Another will be scrapped. Buttercup at Mt. Hood Meadows is also for sale.
- Vail Resorts revenue up 27.5% year-over-year; no new lifts for Whistler-Blackcomb in 2017.
- New Stagecoach website says two Doppelmayr chairlifts now on track to open in late 2018.
- PCL Construction Services files notice of commencement for utility relocation and prep at six Walt Disney World sites widely believed to be gondola station locations with possible opening in 2019.
- Belleayre gondola likely a go for this summer.
- Wolf Ridge, NC closes for the season following lightning damage to 1988 Doppelmayr quad. The place has an interesting past; a 2006 Doppelmayr CTEC quad and 1980 Borvig were both abandoned after a 2014 fire and only two lifts remain.
- Mexico’s latest gondola gets cabins.
- Poma moving to new headquarters in France.
- Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest approves Alta Supreme and Snowbasin Strawberry/Wildcat high speed quads.
- Moose charges lifties and guests at Alyeska, gets killed.
- Mi Teleférico’s blue line broke its own record last weekend carrying 64,275 passengers over two days.
- First look at a burned-out Christchurch Adventure Park shows some quad chairs were saved, haul rope was not.
- Another urban 3S idea pops up in metro Vancouver.
- Latest Aspen Mountain Lift 1A replacement plan to go before the City Council this month.
- Taos will apparently build three new lifts over the next two years, including a pulse gondola and high speed quad.
- The Aspen Times dives deep into lifty life.
- President of Peru inaugurates long Poma gondola to an ancient fortress.
- Mi Teleférico’s $75 million Blue line moved 41,000 passengers on opening day Friday.
- Mt. Lemmon’s main chairlift has been closed all season following tree damage from an early-season storm.
- Galaxy at Heavenly and High Country at Waterville Valley also see extended downtime.
- Emirates Air Line to close for annual week of maintenance.
- The most powerful man in skiing isn’t sold on bubble chairs (plus many other insights from Vail Resorts.)
- Whistler Blackcomb, Jackson Hole and Big Sky make CNN’s most extreme lifts.
- New Zealand’s first chondola on track to open this year.
- Permit filed Monday shows another probable station for rumored five-stage Disney World gondola system (updated potential alignment here.)
- Doppelmayr gets underway building the new Gatlinburg Sky Lift; aggressive timeline shoots for late April opening. Leitner-Poma is building a chondola across the street.
- Two-stage gondola in one of the world’s oldest cities looking more likely.
- Two skiers injured in fall after tree hits their gondola cabin.
- 130 rope evacuated after Italian chairlift de-ropes in crazy winds.
- Snowbasin and Sugarbush join the Mountain Collective, former member Whistler-Blackcomb goes Epic with Stowe to follow.
- Bogus Basin plans to replace Morning Star…in 2020.
- Oakland Zoo’s California Trail gets North America’s first safari-style Omega cabins.
- Vail purchase could mean replacements for Toll House, Lookout and Mountain at Stowe.
- Denver station reports new complaint filed against Ski Granby Ranch last week, though details are sparse.
- Hesperus Ski Area voluntarily closes, possibly for the season following unannounced visit by Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board inspectors. Hesperus similarly closed for a season in the mid-1990s after being found to be running the same lift without an operator.
- Cherry Peak finally opens Sundays, still has not completed promised Summit lift.
- Setbacks pile up for the Grand Canyon Escalade.
- Emirates Air Line ranked highest in customer satisfaction among Transport for London modes and is the only one to turn a profit.
- Sweden once had a material cableway that stretched 26 miles.
- Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, taking a beating on social media, explains why the Headwall lift has been closed all but 16 days so far this year.
- Mexican city of Zacatecas seeks to re-hang its old tramway cabins, further delay execution of its contract with Poma for a new gondola system.
- Urban gondola story makes the front page of the Seattle Times.
- The new urban aerial tram in Brest, France is a hit, seeing 6,000 rider days.
- Whistler Blackcomb’s Master Development Agreements renewed and Master Plan approved.
- Suit seeks at least $75,000 from Sugar Mountain, where a teenager apparently went around a bullwheel at closing time, became stranded and jumped from a chair overnight last season. edit: Resort says rescuers were close by when teen jumped.
- The Georgetown-Rosslyn Gondola idea lives to fight another day.
- Outside profiles James Coleman and his commitment to improving the ski experience at five Southwestern resorts.
- Snow King Mountain abandons plans for East side lift, will try for backside lift instead.
Vail Resorts got welcome news yesterday that went largely unnoticed with the big Stowe buy. The Placer County Board of Supervisors finally and unanimously approved a new master plan for the 3,200-acre Northstar Resort on the northwest shore of Lake Tahoe. Booth Creek Ski Holdings started working on this plan way back in 1990 before eventually selling the mountain to Vail in October of 2010. Today’s approval includes seven new lifts: a gondola, two detachable chairlifts, one surface tow and three additional fixed-grip chairs. Two of those lifts would have mid-stations and three will serve an exciting 550-acre expansion called Sawtooth Ridge.
“The plan is designed to help lengthen current guest stays and solidify Northstar as a premiere destination resort,” Vail Resorts said in a statement. “It provides guests with a wider, more diverse array of terrain offerings and recreational activities, facilitating an improved and extended vacation experience for the destination and day-use guest.” Northstar’s current fleet stands at 14 lifts, nine of which are detachable. The proposed additions are:
- Castle Peak Gondola: A six-passenger gondola to Northstar Village that wouldn’t serve any ski trails but would reduce traffic on Northstar Drive by diverting more vehicles to the offsite Castle Peak parking lots. The gondola alignment would require two stages and an angle station to the east of Northstar Village. It would serve a similar function to the Vail-owned BreckConnect Gondola. Upon completion of Castle Peak, Northstar will operate a whopping four gondolas.
- Lift C: A fixed-grip or detachable chairlift east of the existing Vista Express serving three new intermediate trails above Sawmill Lake.
- Lift J (Lookout Mountain Access): A long new detachable quad or six-place chairlift starting near the bottom station of the Highlands pulse gondola and ending near the Lookout Vista surface lift providing increased out-of-base capacity. A mid-load station would serve new trails to the north of the Tahoe Zephyr Express pod.
- Lift V: A bottom drive fixed-grip lift starting near the Backside Express/Promised Land Express rising into the new Sawtooth Ridge expansion area.
- Lift W: A second fixed-grip chairlift serving Sawtooth Ridge. No trails would be cut in this pod; it would be dedicated to serving natural tree skiing.
- Lift Z: Surface tow similar to Lookout Vista providing access to “backcountry-style” terrain beyond lifts V and W.
- Lift Q: A second lift on Lookout Mountain to the west of the Martis Camp Express. This one would be fixed-grip and top drive.
Build out of the ambitious plan is expected to take two decades and Doppelmayr stands to gain, having built every lift at Northstar since 1985. I’m guessing we might see the Lookout Mountain access lift and Sawtooth Ridge lifts first.
In a move that should surprise no one, this morning Vail Resorts officially went east, agreeing to buy the mountain operations of Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont for $50 million from a subsidiary of insurance giant AIG. The move had been rumored for months and was signed on Friday. Stowe will join Vail Resorts’ hugely popular Epic Pass next season and will become the second mountain newly-acquired by Vail to abandon the Mountain Collective following Whistler-Blackcomb. Like Whistler, Stowe will probably also abandon its SKIDATA RFID lift access technology in favor of the proprietary Epic system.
“We’re thrilled to add Stowe Mountain Resort to our family of world-class mountain resorts. With the investments in both mountain infrastructure and base area facilities that AIG has made over the years, Stowe Mountain Resort has become the premier, high-end resort for East Coast skiers and snowboarders. We look forward to working with AIG to continue enhancing the guest experience and to ensure the resort’s long-term success,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts.
Like the flagship Vail Mountain, Stowe has invested heavily in new lifts from both Doppelmayr and Leitner-Poma in recent years, adding six new lifts since 2004. Four of those additions are located on the redeveloped Spruce Peak at Stowe. The addition of Stowe’s eight chairlifts and two gondolas brings Vail Resorts to operate more than 260 lifts across 13 mountain resorts. Vail has already announced four new high-speed lifts (three Leitner-Poma, one Doppelmayr) to be built at Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Vail for next winter. The purchase of Stowe is expected to close sometime this spring.
- If anyone’s curious what the pilot who flies your lift towers does in the winter, here’s your answer.
- Austrian skier falls from lift, through car windshield.
- Anakeesta will open the world’s first fixed-grip chondola this summer.
- The Wintry Mix Podcast‘s two latest episodes are worthy listens.
- Skytrac introduces phased lift replacement program.
- Doppelmayr stops work on urban gondola in Venezuela, inks more orders from China and Bolivia.
- Vail-Stowe rumors fly. The Street says no deal, yet.
- Child falls from lift at Ski Sundown. Another drops 26 feet from the Purgatory Village Express.
- CNBC profiles North Korea’s Masikryong ski resort, which has five lifts but apparently no snowplows.
- Gondola eyed to link downtown Boulder with the University Hill neighborhood.
- Ford’s 90-second Super Bowl commercial features a (broken) Hall double.
- Group seeks investors to fund ambitious reopening and expansion of Fortress Mountain, AB with multiple detachable quads.
- Another lift to be replaced with a carpet.
- I 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 – Bartholet, BMHRI (China), Doppelmayr/Garaventa (Austria), Leitner–Poma (Italy), LST (France), STM (Turkey) and Tatralift (Slovakia.)
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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
With strong Epic Pass sales and early snow blanketing its properties, Vail Resorts revealed today it will go big on new lifts in 2017, adding additional six-place chairlifts at Vail, Keystone and Breckenridge as part of a $122 million capital program. In the company’s first quarter results, CEO Rob Katz noted, “we remain committed to reinvesting in our resorts, creating an experience of a lifetime for our guests and generating strong returns for our shareholders.” The news follows construction of four new lifts at Vail mountains in both 2015 and 2016.
On Vail Mountain, the Northwoods Express #11 will be replaced, leaving only three CLD-260 first-generation detachables in service. The new Northwoods will also become the mountain’s 10th new lift in 11 years. At Breckenridge, Vail will upgrade the Falcon high speed quad on Peak 10 to a six-person detachable, allowing more guests to experience some of the best intermediate and advanced terrain on the mountain. The Falcon SuperChair is a 1986 Poma high speed quad also approaching the end of its useful life. At Keystone, the 1990 Doppelmayr Uni-model Montezuma chair will be replaced with a six-pack version.
Leitner-Poma is likely to build Breckenridge’s newest lift, which would extend a 16-lift streak for the manufacturer at Breck. Vail and Keystone operate a mix of Leitner-Poma and Doppelmayr lifts and could plausibly sign with either company. Noticeably absent from today’s release was any mention of new lifts for Park City or the newly-Epic Whistler-Blackcomb. Vail Resorts will detail further capital improvements in the spring but these three projects are a huge start.
Update 1/23/17: Leitner-Poma will build and install all three of these lifts.
Hello readers- for the next two weeks I am floating the Grand Canyon without access to the internet. I’ve scheduled a few posts for my absence, otherwise lift blogging will resume Nov. 5th –Peter from Flagstaff, Arizona.
- Ski season launches tomorrow at A-Basin. COO Al Henceroth is also looking for one of the resort’s original single chairs.
- Silver Mountain reportedly sells for a fire-sale price of $5 million. The resort’s gondola, formerly the world’s longest, cost $8 million in 1990.
- Doppelmayr goes to Moscow, Poma goes to Barcelona and Orlando.
- Wire Austin gets a website.
- Take a ride on the newly-named Hexago six-pack at Le Relais.
- In case you missed it, Gregg Blanchard of SlopeFillers fame interviewed me about Lift Blog.
- Woman sues Aspen Skiing Company over loading incident at the Snowmass Village Express.
- Vail Resorts to debut $100 million in capital improvements for 2016-17 including four new lifts. With Whistler-Blackcomb now Epic, the company will likely invest even more in 2017.
- 9News profiles the CPTSB.