- The Wallowa Lake Tramway makes the New York Times Daily 360 Postcard.
- Doppelmayr’s new headquarters building is super cool.
- You can follow along as Garaventa enters the home stretch building the record-breaking Eibsee Cable Car 2.0 in Germany.
- There’s also a construction blog for Leitner’s 3S project in Zermatt.
- Steamboat finally opened its gondola Monday, lamenting “we made a mistake by trying to set an opening date” and thanking guests for weeks of patience.
- Sunshine Village reopened the same day following fire scare.
- Bidding opens for construction of a four-stage, 10-passenger urban gondola in Santiago, Chile – a contract estimated to be worth $78 million. When complete, Latin America will sport urban gondolas in Mexico City, Mexico (Leitner); Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (Poma); Medellín, Colombia (Poma); Caracas, Venezuela (Doppelmayr); Lima, Peru (Poma); Quito, Ecuador (Poma); La Paz, Bolivia (Doppelmayr); Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Doppelmayr and Poma) and Santiago, Chile (TBD.) Impressive.
- The Roosevelt Island Tramway is going to one-car service for an extended platform replacement project.
- This week’s Disney Skyliner construction update comes from the Kingdom Insider.
- Beaver Creek recycles Drink of Water, reuses from Montezuma.
- The Leitner-Poma Group’s striking new Symphony 10 gondola cabin has been spotted in the wild. More photos are here (sign up required.)
- A-Basin posts cool photos from a bullwheel bearing replacement project.
- Troy Caldwell still wants to build a private ski area between Squaw and Alpine but as of this spring, he has a long way to go.
You probably don’t know about this lift, even though it has the largest vertical rise of any gondola in North America. Yes, more vertical than if Vail had a top-to-bottom lift and more than the (much newer) gondolas at Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Silver Mountain and Aspen. You wouldn’t know how cool this lift is from the tiny ticket booth and parking lot, or from the tramway’s Facebook page, which lists it as “permanently closed.” Despite all signs pointing to a lackluster roadside attraction, the Wallowa Lake Tramway, as it’s known, is incredible.
Situated at the far shore of its namesake, past the end of an abandoned railroad and at the dead-end of a 13-mile road, it feels like a trip to the Alps with high mountain peaks all around. Opened in 1970 after two years of construction at a cost of $700,000, the tramway was conceived as the launch point for a large ski area, so the cabins have ski racks. Although skiing never materialized, nearly fifty years later the gondola serves as a scenic throwback for the lucky few who venture six hours from Portland or 4.5 from Spokane or Boise (the local Lions Club opened a ski area nearby called Ferguson Ridge in 1983.) Those who trek to the Wallowas are rewarded with a 3,700′ vertical lift to 8,256′ Mt. Howard with monster mountain views along the way and a shimmering blue lake below.
The average lift ride in the United States and Canada takes just under five minutes. In fact, only about four percent of lifts (fewer than a hundred) take more than ten minutes to ride. You wouldn’t know it hearing the average skier complaining about long and slow lifts at just about any ski area. Below are the ten longest lifts by actual ride time at design speed. Of course lifts do not always run at their design speed but this gives a pretty good idea of the longest rides. Two of the top ten are detachable lifts that are so long that they take more than 15 minutes.
1. Burfield Quad – Sun Peaks Resort, BC – 1997 Doppelmayr Fixed-grip quad
9,510 feet at 453 fpm = 21 minutes
2. Cyclone – Sunrise Park Resort, AZ – 1983 Yan Fixed-grip triple
7,982 feet at 450 fpm = 17.7 minutes
3. Gondola – Silver Mountain, ID – 1990 VonRoll 8-passenger gondola
16,350 feet at 1,000 fpm = 16.4 minutes
4. Castlerock – Sugarbush Resort, VT – 2001 Poma fixed-grip double
4,707 feet at 300 fpm = 15.7 minutes
5. Wallowa Lake Tramway, OR – 1968 Hall 4-passenger gondola
9.650 feet at 650 fpm = 14.9 minutes