- Here’s the latest on construction of the first MND/Bartholet detachable in the USA.
- A wide-ranging interview with the Director of MND Ropeways reveals the strength of the North American market, the war in Ukraine’s affect on European steel prices and the latest on the MND/Bartholet partnership. If the alliance winds down post-2023, MND would build detachable lifts in house.
- Despite efforts to save it, the Tulsa State Fair announces removal of its VonRoll skyride, citing maintenance and safety concerns.
- The Austrian gondola known as “Old Lady” will be shipped to Alaska at the end of June for installation at Eaglecrest.
- Loveland offers season passholders a chance to own retired Lift 6 chairs.
- Jared Smith will be the next CEO of Alterra Mountain Company as Rusty Gregory steps away from day-to-day management duties.
- Vail Resorts posts Epic Lift Upgrade updates from Attitash, Boston Mills and Mount Snow.
- Stowe’s Epic Lift Upgrade project is finally approved and construction is underway.
- A legal battle continues over whether Christchurch Adventure Park was negligent spreading a wildfire by running a chairlift with plastic seats during a 2017 blaze.
- A Swiss ski resort plans to build one of the world’s steepest tramways with a maximum inclination of 159.4%.
- 49 Degrees North says so long to Bonanza.
- Schweitzer plans to build at least one new lift from its master plan in 2023.
- A report finds corrosion, wear and inadequately monitored twisting led to the failure of a socket on an Italian tram last year and 14 deaths.
- Israel’s supreme court green lights construction of an urban gondola in Jerusalem.
- A 2030 Vancouver Olympics may see Whistler and Sun Peaks as venues.
- The Forest Service needs more time before deciding on Lutsen Mountains’ proposed expansion.
- Fire reaches within a half mile of Sipapu but officials express confidence that containment will hold.
- Mt. Rose’s Lakeview triple heads to Dodge Ridge.
- Maine’s Hermon Mountain hits the market.
- Cockaigne will open next year despite being for sale.
- An Alberta T-Bar will be used to transport alpine coaster vehicles and riders.
- Lenawee Express is the name for A Basin’s first six pack.
- Happy re-opening day to Big Snow American Dream!
News Roundup: All Over
- The Disney Skyliner suffers a minor breakdown.
- Construction resumes on the first MND/Bartholet detachable in the Americas.
- Two are dead following a collision and multi-day helicopter evacuation of a sightseeing gondola in India.
- Park City needs more time to present its upcoming lift projects at a public hearing.
- Issues with multiple lifts spell the end of Marble Mountain’s season.
- I recently joined the Powder Hounds Ski Trivia Podcast to talk lifts.
- Sunlight purchases Arapahoe Basin’s Lenawee Mountain triple to replace Segundo; Primo will be next.
- The name for Grand Targhee’s new lift on Peaked Mountain will be Colter.
- Paris selects a cabin design for its upcoming urban gondola system.
- Juneau moves ahead with purchasing a used Austrian gondola.
- A construction update on SkyLand Ranch, Tennessee, which will include a SkyTrans combination lift.
- Vail Resorts bags summer operations at Attitash to focus on lift maintenance and construction.
- Sugarloaf details plans for two new lifts over the next two summers.
- Leitner-Poma of America launches a new website.
- Big Sky profiles the maintenance manager of one of America’s largest lift fleets.
- Sunshine Village posts fun facts about its chairlift system.
- Former Jay Peak head Bill Stenger is sentenced to 18 months in prison for the fraud scheme involving the mountain and a biomedical research facility.
- A publicly-funded study says a gondola would be the best option for sightseeing above Butte, Montana.
- Cuchara looks to reopen one chairlift this summer.
- A tram or gondola is considered for Half Moon Bay, California.
- One of the Roosevelt Island Tramway‘s stations will receive a $7 million renovation.
News Roundup: First Chair
- Park City Mountain Resort tells elected leaders that visitation and lift wait times are flat compared to previous seasons.
- Sugarbush borrows parts from the Slide Brook Express to keep Super Bravo going. A blog post discusses lift staffing/lift maintenance and hints at future lift replacements.
- Waterville Valley shows off the first chair for its upcoming bubble lift.
- The hard work continues to repair immense damage at Sierra at Tahoe.
- Closed New York ski area Toggenburg is put up for sale.
- An unfortunate viral video shows a fight between security and Blue Mountain guests in the Orchard Express loading area over masks.
- Mt. Bachelor says the Skyliner Express will miss the entire season.
- Two Black Hawk helicopters crash land near the base of Snowbird’s Mineral Basin Express; no injuries reported.
- Despite an alleged $4.5 million theft, backers of the Mighty Argo Cable Car look to begin tower foundations as soon as this winter.
- Vancouver’s transit agency posts a Burnaby Mountain Gondola roadmap.
- A child is injured in a fall from a Camden Snow Bowl chairlift.
News Roundup: Growing Pains
- Vail Resorts officially takes ownership of Seven Springs, Laurel Mountain and Hidden Valley.
- Vail faces a mountain of criticism for operational struggles from Colorado to Washington, Ohio, New Hampshire and beyond.
- Vail slashes operating days and/or hours at Crotched Mountain, Hidden Valley, Snow Creek, Boston Mills/Brandywine/Alpine Valley and Mad River Mountain due to employee shortages.
- Stevens Pass rope evacuates two chairlifts in one day citing power outages.
- Park City Chief Operating Officer Mike Goar sits down for an extended interview to explain some of the issues facing Vail.
- The Park City ski patrol union rejects Vail Resorts’ latest contract offer, fundraises for a possible work stoppage.
- Beaver Creek will open the McCoy Park expansion Monday.
- Vail applies with the Forest Service to replace the Summit Triple at Attitash with a four or six passenger detachable.
- Waterville Valley proposes building an MND T-Bar in the former World Cup Triple alignment.
- Monarch Mountain advances the No Name Basin expansion.
- No link but I’m told Montana Snowbowl is moving forward with building a lift from the base area up TV Mountain.
- Ditto for Windham Mountain replacing the Whiteway triple with a Doppelmayr D-Line detachable.
- Sandia Peak management says tram icing which led to a 14 hour evacuation was unprecedented.
- Crystal Mountain announces a lift reservation system, quickly changes course to parking reservations instead.
- Another of Iowa’s ski areas transitions from private to public ownership.
- Some 80 containers arrive from Europe for the Caribbean’s next big urban gondola.
- Sunshine Express at Steamboat is closed all week for a motor repair.
- Magic Mountain’s Red lift passes another inspection and load test, will reopen Saturday.
- Charles Skinner takes full ownership of Lutsen Mountains.
News Roundup: American Rescue Plan
- Moosehead Mountain’s redevelopment is pushed back to 2023 at the earliest.
- Deer Valley moves toward replacing the Silver Lake Express, possibly with a gondola.
- A proposed development adjacent to Big Sky Resort includes a pulse gondola and two platter lifts.
- Whiteface’s new quad is named Warhorse.
- Snow King’s new gondola opens tomorrow but not for skiing.
- The first pieces of Waterville Valley’s Bartholet/MND six pack arrive stateside.
- A new map shows where Caberfae Peaks’ East Peak triple will go.
- Attitash permanently closes the West Double Double to “prep for it being replaced.”
- Mountain Capital Partners unveils a concept plan for 19 new lifts across thousands of acres at Brian Head.
- The Forest Service green lights construction of Mt. Hood Meadows’ first six pack.
- Breckenridge celebrates 60 years of massive growth.
- Bartholet plans to build its first RopeTaxi with cabins departing on demand in 2022.
- Cannon will seek American Rescue Plan funds for tram overhaul/replacement, possibly as early as 2023.
- Blacktail Mountain joins the Indy Pass.
- A video shows a loaded lift roll back in Kyrgyzstan.
News Roundup: Wish List
- 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.
MND Ropeways to Build First US Detachable at Waterville Valley
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.
News Roundup: Ramping Up
- 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.
News Roundup: Vail Numbers
- 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.
Waterville Valley Eyes Terrain Expansion and a Gondola
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.”