- The largest gondola network in the world looks to add four more lines.
- Aspen Mountain is likely to gain approval for Pandora’s next month with lift installation targeted for 2023.
- The Burnaby Mountain Gondola remains a top funding priority in the Vancouver region.
- 49 Degrees North names its new detachable quad Northern Spirit.
- Opposition emerges to the Lutsen Mountains expansion proposal.
- Kelly Canyon flies towers for its new Skytrac.
- Ground is broken for a seven station urban gondola system in Santiago, Chile.
- Beaver Creek releases its new map with McCoy Park. Okemo’s new lifts hit the trail map. Saddleback too.
- A proposed wildlife park with gondola ride receives a $400,000 grant from the State of North Dakota.
- Maine’s Mt. Abram reactivates its long disused Mini T-Bar.
- A documentary about Canada’s largest lost ski area will debut at the Banff Film Festival.
- MND Ropeways commences construction on its first North American detachable at Waterville Valley.
- 462 ski areas operated last season in the United States, 8 fewer than 2019/20.
- Purgatory’s Ice Creek expansion and triple chair are approved, subject to a 45 day objection period.
- Ski Cooper’s wish list includes a frontside detachable quad and lifts on Chicago Ridge.
- Alberta’s Hidden Valley may not open this season.
- Nitehawk takes delivery of Lake Louise’s former Summit Platter for immediate installation and conversion to a T-Bar.
- A Snow King gondola update.
- Fire-damaged Big Snow American Dream will remain closed into 2022.
- As some suggest a gondola, Denver International Airport seeks proposals for a non-rail link between its three concourses.
Waterville Valley Resort and MND Ropeways have inked a deal to bring a first-of-its-kind chairlift to New Hampshire. The six place bubble lift will replace the White Peaks Express, in operation since 1988. One hundred chairs designed by Porsche Design Studio will carry 3,000 skiers per hour along a 5,700 foot alignment.
Waterville Valley and MND previously collaborated to install three surface lifts and more than 400 snow guns. “We have been partners with Waterville Valley Resort since 2017 and are pleased to be continuing our collaboration,” noted Xavier Gallot-Lavallée, Chairman and CEO of MND. “This project will expand our position in the U.S. market by building our first detachable ropeway transportation system in the United States.”
The $9 million, 845 horsepower machine will become one of the largest bubble lifts in the East. “Replacing our White Peaks lift is the most important project in our investment plan for the existing resort footprint, and we will continue our work to enhance the guest experience at Waterville Valley Resort,” said President and General Manager Tim Smith. “This lift represents the best technology in the market today and we are pleased to extend our partnership with MND.”
MND Ropeways has built lifts in more than 40 countries to date. German Peter Loipolder founded the company as LST (Loipolder Seilbahn Technik) in 1989. Following Mr. Loipolder’s 2011 death, the French conglomerate MND (which translates in English as Mountain and Snow Development) acquired LST, moving manufacturing to the French Alps. MND went public on the Euronext Growth exchange in 2013 and constructed its first detachable chairlift in 2016. By 2019, the firm pivoted to a partnership with Bartholet Maschinenbau Flums (BMF) of Switzerland, allowing MND to utilize Bartholet’s detachable technology. MND has been present in the United States for 10 years with a main office in Eagle, Colorado and a satellite location in Laconia, New Hampshire.
A third player entering the North American detachable lift business is a big deal. The last time three companies offered detachables here was pre-2002, when Doppelmayr merged with Garaventa. Competition is good for ski resorts and ultimately the skiing and snowboarding public.
White Peaks is a turnkey project with MND providing design, project management, equipment fabrication, construction, installation, start-up and operator training. Foundations for Waterville’s six pack will be poured this year with steel erection taking place next summer. Commissioning is slated for the fall of 2022.
- Northeast gems Saddleback and Waterville Valley join the Indy Pass coalition, effective immediately.
- Winter Park Resort looks for the Forest Service’s blessing to replace multiple lifts.
- The Forest Service fully approves Keystone’s Bergman Bowl project.
- Welch Village voluntarily withdraws the East Quad from service following an unspecified incident (now back open).
- Guests of Mission Ridge love the Wenatchee Express and here’s the final episode of On the Way Up.
- Spirit Mountain lends a hand to repair the chairlift at nearby Chester Bowl.
- A girl is okay after falling from a Mohawk Mountain chairlift.
- A child also falls from a lift at Saddleback.
- Skyline at Pebble Creek is partially rope evacuated.
- Lookout Pass eyes 2022 for new lifts servicing Eagle Peak.
- More reports of stellar seasons from Iowa, New York and Pennsylvania.
- Cabins return to the Sea to Sky Gondola with more on the way.
- Mt. Bohemia considers building a lift in the Haunted Valley.
- Timberline Lodge closes for three days following a messy ice storm.
- Once a cartel hub, Medellín is a city transformed in part by a modern gondola network.
- Waterville Valley President and General Manager Tim Smith discusses a future gondola, bubble six pack and other lift changes.
- A rider who fell into a net along with another passenger and lift operator sues Snow King Mountain.
- Murray Ridge secures a six figure grant to rehabilitate one of the world’s longest T-Bars.
- MND reports revenue fell 5 percent in the second half of 2020 ($20.7 million in sales came from snowmaking and lifts.)
- Aspen will delay the Silver Queen Gondola‘s summer opening to complete big ticket maintenance items.
- Doppelmayr’s latest Wir magazine explores the Eiger Express.
- Saddleback closes for a day to shorten the haul rope on the new Rangeley quad.
- Poma will build an eight station urban gondola system in Madagascar with 274 cabins.
- Parent company Dream Unlimited says Arapahoe Basin is on track for its second best financial year ever despite opening four weeks late.
- Just two weeks to go until old lifts start coming down to make way for new ones.
- Squaw will experiment metering skiers at gates to avoid long lift lines at Silverado.
- The world’s largest urban gondola network might add four more lines.
- Big Squaw reopens tomorrow, two weeks after this deropement.
- A gondola is no longer a core component of the Oakland Athletics’ planned new stadium.
- There’s talk of building a 7,000 vertical foot gondola on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
- Vail Resorts has sold 850,000 season passes as of September 18th, an 18 percent increase compared to last year at this time.
- CEO Rob Katz assures skiers reservations should be widely available for most resorts on most days.
- Vail lost $153.6 million in the quarter ended July 31st compared with an $89.5 million loss in the same period last year.
- For the full fiscal year 2020, Vail reported a net income of $98.8 million, a decrease of 67.2 percent.
- The company also recently cut 410 jobs.
- Regarding capital projects and the seven lift projects Vail postponed this year, Katz said on the conference call:
“We are of course going to be monitoring the season closely before we come out with any plan for calendar year 2021. We’ll make sure we’re incorporating what happened this year. We will likely still be in a conservative approach though hopefully not as conservative as last year because the environment around Covid and travel has all improved. We will definitely be prioritizing projects that we think will have a significant impact on the guest experience and certainly some of the projects that we deferred from last year will be top of the list.”
- Government-owned Marble Mountain remains on the hunt for a private operating partner.
- Towers are up for the largest new lift of the year.
- A fire comes uncomfortably close to Mt. Waterman, California.
- More than 6,500 people commented on Little Cottonwood Canyon transportation alternatives including a possible 3S.
- Mont-Sainte-Anne’s gondola remains inoperable following last winter’s mishaps but the ski area expects it to reopen in December.
- Disney won’t open chairlift-accessed Blizzard Beach until at least March of 2021.
- The Sea to Sky Gondola reopens its base facilities.
- Defunct Vermont ski area Snow Valley is for sale.
- The Town of Mountain Village acquires 20 used gondola cabins for social distancing at the base of Telluride.
- The last chance to comment on Burnaby Mountain Gondola routes is Wednesday.
- The Forest Service signs off on two new lifts and removal of three old ones at Waterville Valley.
- Snow King’s gondola is approved by the Town of Jackson.
- Whiteface will auction off retired cabins from the Cloudsplitter Gondola.
- Indy Pass adds Swain Resort in New York.
- The Central Wasatch Commission seeks feedback on potential 3S gondola transportation from Alta to Brighton and/or Brighton to Park City.
- Le Relais eliminates season passes entirely. Guests will buy blocks of skiing until they reach a certain total for the season, then all remaining blocks are free.
- A local investment banker will take over operations of nonprofit Sleeping Giant Ski Area.
- Bogus Basin’s Morning Star Express will miss the final two weekends of the season.
- A lot of Covid operating plans are coming out these days. This one from Mt. Hood Meadows stands out as excellent.
- Sugarloaf GM Karl Strand joins the Storm Skiing Podcast for a discussion on the West Mountain expansion and Sugarloaf 2030 lift plans.
- Former Aspen CMO Christian Knapp launches Lift Ticket, a new series about resorts navigating Covid.
- Doppelmayr unveils a new Wir magazine.
A gondola may finally link the Town of Waterville Valley with its ski area in the coming years, just one of many exciting projects outlined in the new Waterville Valley Master Development Plan. Recently accepted by the United States Forest Service, the MDP will guide upgrades at the mountain over the next decade. It’s the first such comprehensive plan for Waterville since 1999, when Booth Creek owned the resort.
Waterville is seeking a 140 acre boundary expansion and 15 new trails on Green Peak, which saw its first lift installed in 2016. The resort now features two summits accessed from one base area. A proposed new portal would separate different user groups and improve the guest experience. A two stage gondola or chondola is planned to link the Waterville Town Square to the new base area and on to Green Peak. Two sections would be capable of operating independently with an angled mid-terminal. The exact alignment of the first stage, which would be located on private land, has not yet been determined.
“The most remarkable element of the plan is that it includes the eventual installation of a gondola that will start in the Town of Waterville Valley near Town Square and transport guests to the summit of Green Peak,” said Waterville Valley CEO John Sununu. “Connecting our pedestrian village to the ski resort will be incredibly exciting for our resort and community.” The gondola would be a major undertaking, spanning some 9,000 linear feet with 1,400 feet of vertical and eight passenger cabins. It would operate in both winter and summer.
Green Peak would also see a second triple chair servicing 500 vertical feet of beginner and low intermediate terrain. Two conveyor lifts in the existing base area would be relocated to a new ski school facility at the gondola mid-station.
Two lift upgrades are planned, which Waterville filed to construct back in October. The White Peaks Express, nearing the end of its useful life, would become a six place detachable in the existing alignment. Sunnyside is targeted to be replaced with a fixed grip quad. Two other lift modifications are included: removal of Northside and lengthening of the World Cup T-Bar. Outside of the scope of the new development plan but on the horizon is further expansion onto Green Peak’s South Ridge.
“We’re thrilled to continue Waterville Valley’s development and look forward to fulfilling our team’s vision,” said President and General Manager Tim Smith in a statement announcing the Forest Service acceptance. “This is just the first step in a long process, but it marks an exciting milestone towards progressing Waterville Valley into the future.”
The Interstate 93 corridor in New Hampshire could soon be a hotbed of lift construction. Four exciting projects appeared on the White Mountain National Forest proposed actions page this week. In what would be a major move, Loon Mountain is seeking to replace the Kancamagus detachable quad with an eight seater chairlift. Next, the Seven Brothers triple would be replaced with a detachable quad, presumably utilizing equipment removed from the Kanc. This project would be similar to one Loon’s owner Boyne Resorts completed last year at Big Sky. There, the Ramcharger detachable quad was replaced by North America’s first eight passenger chairlift and the old machine moved to replace a Heron-Poma double.
Just to the south at Waterville Valley, the White Peaks Express is proposed to be replaced by a six passenger detachable lift. The current machine was built in 1988 and shortened to its current length in 1996. In a second project, the Sunnyside triple would be swapped for a fixed-grip quad and the Northside double removed. Both of these lifts were built decades ago by Stadeli. Waterville Valley has been independently owned and operated by a local group of investors since 2010. They recently replaced another aging Stadeli lift with an LST T-Bar.
It is unknown whether any of these new lifts will feature bubbles and/or heated seats, which have become popular across New England. The Forest Service expects to make decisions on whether to approve the projects in December.
- The Forest Service tentatively approves two new chairlifts as part of the Atoma expansion at Mt. Rose.
- There are gondolas flying above Walt Disney World as of late.
- The Garibaldi at Squamish resort proposal is still alive in BC.
- Sitzmark, Washington and its 1961 Riblet double won’t open this season.
- Tamarack’s new Wildwood Express will likely reuse foundations from the repossessed UNI-GS version.
- Medellín inaugurates its fifth urban gondola by Poma, Line M.
- A nine year old boy is okay after falling 31 feet from the Thunderbowl lift at Aspen Highlands.
- Sun Valley postpones the Cold Springs Express project to 2020.
- Sunshine Polishing has a bunch of vintage gondola cabins for sale including many from Killington’s K-1 Express.
- Skytrac marks ten years in business with 37 complete lifts, eight new terminals and five relocations to date with more to come!
- Waterville Valley and LST Ropeways are trying to open the new High Country lift this week.
- A Hermitage reopening this winter is unlikely but the lifts are being taken care of by a skeleton crew of employees.
- The popular Portland Aerial Tram opens up a logo shop.
- Another Skyliner job is posted: Technical Manager.
- The Forest Service plans to green light Cooper’s Way Back expansion and construction of a 2,450′ surface lift.
- Ditto for Crested Butte’s two chairlift Teocalli II expansion and realignment of North Face.
- Mexico City announces its first Cablebús line will be the longest urban gondola in the world at nearly 31,000 feet. A full ride would take 46 minutes with 374 ten passenger cabins transporting up to 4,000 passengers per hour each way.
- The first D-Line lift in New Zealand won’t be built this summer after all and The Remarkables will place 60 containers of lift parts into storage until government approval comes through.
- A little ski resort in Labrador has as many new lifts as Whistler Blackcomb this winter – three!
- A proposed gondola in Oakland would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits, says a new study.
- Two workers fall to their deaths during a practice evacuation of a new gondola in India.
- A Swiss aerial tramway will be out of service for months following an avalanche that damaged a support tower.
- Sleeping Giant experiments operating without a general manager.
- Waterville Valley explains why some of its lifts are out of service.
- Recently closed Vermont area Plymouth Notch goes up for sale along with its 1964 Mueller double.
- The old high speed quad from Horseshoe, Ontario is still available.
- Faced with the possibility of losing its operating lease completely, Sunshine Village reluctantly agrees to new guidelines that remove the proposed Goat’s Eye tramway, Bye Bye Bowl expansion and Wildside lift from future consideration. A second lift in the existing gondola corridor, Goat’s Eye II, Lookout, Hayes Hill and Lower Meadow Park expansions are still possible.
- Environmental groups and Squaw Alpine are still sparring over the proposed California Express gondola.
- Resorts across the Pacific Northwest come to the aid of Hurricane Ridge season pass holders, who lost a month of their season due to the government shutdown.
- Rain delays the debut of Spider Mountain, the seventh lift-based destination for Mountain Capital Partners.
- Revelstoke drops more details and a map of Cupcake, coming next winter.
- Waterville Valley says the federal government shutdown is to blame for High Country and Sunnyside not opening yet this season.
- As the shutdown drags on, there are at least 13 resorts waiting on federal analysis of new lift projects by my count.
- A group of homeowners who invested to build the bubble six pack at the Hermitage Club worry Berkshire Bank could foreclose on the chairlift.
- Whistler Blackcomb loses its claim to the world’s longest unsupported lift span but now features the longest continuous gondola system and the highest capacity gondola in North America.
- Jay is officially available.
- Despite a completed new chairlift, Frost Fire won’t open this season as it continues to fundraise.
- The Telluride community considers what to do in 2027 when public funding for the gondola sunsets.
- Mountain Capital Partners still plans to reopen Elk Ridge but not this season.
- With approvals inked, Steamboat considers whether to build a second gondola or the Pioneer Ridge expansion first.
- The Kohlmaisbahn in Saalbach, Austria becomes the first gondola spotted with Omega V cabins.
- The Hermitage may miss Christmas.
- Catch a glimpse of the new Winter Park gondola cabins. Killington too!
- The eight urban gondolas in La Paz transported a 318,532 riders last Wednesday – a crazy new single day record.
- Thanks to community support, Antelope Butte is poised to reopen with two chairlifts.
- After having its summer camp shut down by the state of New Hampshire, Granite Gorge likely won’t open for downhill skiing this winter.
- The ex-Gore Mountain employee who claimed he was left on a lift overnight last winter is convicted of making a false statement to police and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
- Mont Gleason, Quebec will build a fixed grip quad with loading carpet next summer.
- The Iron Mountain Tramway in Glenwood Springs is carrying its final riders next Sunday as Leitner-Poma mobilizes to build an improved gondola this winter.
- Thanks to Jared Emerson for taking me around the newest North American lift by LST Ropeways at Waterville Valley. She’s a beauty!