News Roundup: Retirements

  • Telluride weighs building at least one big detachable next summer as the Forest Service tentatively approves replacements for Plunge, Sunshine Express and Village Express.
  • White Pass, WA retires its platter in favor of a 380’ carpet.
  • LiftDigital goes live for testing at Winter Park.
  • Taos says goodbye to two more chairlifts – that’s four in one summer!
  • Song Mountain, NY is replacing its 1965 Thunderbird T-Bar with a chairliftAnyone know where it’s from?
  • The Rainforest Adventures crew gets one Skytrac back in action and works to repair the other following Irma’s devastation of St. Maarten.
  • Scroll through these photos of a new high-speed quad in Switzerland with four stations, three sections, two haul ropes and only one drive!
  • Albany gondola group to be led by former chief executive of the New York State Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration Thomas Madison, Jr.
  • Authorities briefly seize Granby Ranch, site of last season’s fatal lift incident, over delinquent taxes.
  • Spout Springs in Oregon won’t open for a second year in a row and remains for sale.
  • Mi Teleférico’s Orange Line did 93,847 riders its first weekend.
  • Frank F. sent over these photos of the new Skytrac Buttercup Quad going in at Mt. Hood Meadows:
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News Roundup: Washout

  • Teams from Mt. Hood Meadows have repaired and re-opened the Shooting Star Express that was damaged by falling trees over Thanksgiving. Now the storm recovery turns to the Mt. Hood Express, which received ten feet of snow in one week.
  • White Pass has more snow than it did at anytime last winter but no one can get there.  Crews have been working around the clock to repair washouts that cut off the resort from both sides of the Cascades Dec. 9th.  The ski area will re-open Wednesday.

  • The Berry family says it’s close to a deal to sell Saddleback to a new owner that hopes to open by late January.  Passholders can get a refund or gift card now.
  • Aspen’s 1971 SLI double on Shadow Mountain will be replaced with a detachable quad or gondola in 2016 or ’17.  The top terminal will move 200 feet to the southwest resulting in a slope length of 3,600′ with 1,390′ vertical and a capacity of 1,200 skiers per hour.
  • Park City and Canyons are now one thanks to the Quicksilver Gondola but judging by snow conditions it’s going to be awhile before you can ski between the two.
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Sugarloaf and Doppelmayr load test King Pine on Dec. 19, 2015.
  • James Coleman opens new quad chairs at Purgatory (Leitner-Poma) and Arizona Snowbowl (SkyTrac) with more new lifts on the way.
  • Doppelmayr secures $27 million European government loan for research and development in Austria.
  • Cherry Peak Resort opens today!  It’s the first all-new ski facility in North America since Tamarack debuted back in 2004.

News Roundup: D-Line

  • Red River Ski Area hires Doppelmayr to replace its Green lift – a 1977 Riblet double – with a new, longer quad called Emerald for 2016/17.
  • Arizona Snowbowl’s new SkyTrac quad opens Dec. 18th.
  • Sugarloaf is installing rebuilt gearboxes on two major lifts this December.
  • Louisiana called its last gondola experiment MART.  The next one could be BRAF?
  • BMF’s unique aerial tramway strung between two towers in Puebla, Mexico opens December 20th.
  • 100+ photos of Doppelmayr’s all-new detachable product, dubbed D-Line.
  • Mt. Hood Meadows’ Shooting Star Express will remain closed until Christmas after being rocked by falling trees.
  • Storms last week in the Cascades cut off all access to White Pass Ski Area with no estimated re-opening.

Oldest Operating Lifts in the US & Canada

1. Single Chair, Mad River Glen, VT – 1948 American Steel & Wire Single Chair

The single chair at MRG still has its original towers and terminal structures but everything else was replaced by Doppelmayr CTEC in 2007.  As part of that project, towers were removed, sandblasted and repainted before being flown back to new foundations with new line gear.  Doppelmayr also replaced the bullwheels, chairs, grips, drive and haul rope.  This begs the question of ‘when is an old lift a new lift?’

2. Gatlinburg Sky Lift, Gatlinburg, TN – 1954 Riblet double

Everett Kircher of Boyne fame bought this chairlift from Sugar Bowl, CA for $3,000 in 1954.  Originally it was a single chair built in 1939.  Modified sheave assemblies were machined at the Kircher’s car dealership in Michigan when the lift went to Tennessee.  At some point it appears to have gotten newer-style Riblet towers.  Boyne Resorts still operates this lift 800 miles from their nearest ski resort. (edit: JP notes in the comments below that this version was replaced by a Riblet double in 1991.  Thanks JP!)

3. Chair 1, White Pass, WA – 1955 1962 Riblet double

This lift only operates on busy weekends and holidays but it’s an old one and a good one .  A classic Pacific Northwest center-pole double with very few modifications from its original design and no safety bars! (edit: Brian notes in the comments that this lift was actually installed as Chair 2 in 1962.  The original chair 1 operated 1955-1994.)

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Chair one at White Pass lives on despite an adjacent high speed quad.

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Lift Profile: Couloir Express at White Pass, WA

The Couloir Express is on the upper right of the White Pass trail map.
The Couloir Express is on the upper right of the White Pass trail map.

Located on the edge of Mt. Rainier National Park in the Washington Cascades, White Pass Ski Area has been operating continuously since 1956.  Until 2010, the entire ski area could be accessed from a single lift with a 1,500 foot vertical rise.  An ambitious expansion opened on December 4, 2010, doubling the size of the resort 33 years after it was first proposed to the Forest Service.  The 767-acre Paradise Basin addition includes two new Doppelmayr quads called Basin and Couloir Express as well as a new lodge and trails.  Both lifts were built mostly over snow to avoid road building in this former wilderness area.  Construction took place over two springs, taking a break for the summer and winter of 2009-10.

Building lifts over snow in 2010 with a unique construction schedule due to environmental concerns.
Building the Couloir Express over snow with a unique construction schedule due to environmental concerns.  Photo credit: White Pass Ski Area

The Couloir Express is the last Uni-GS model detachable that Doppelmayr built.  Designed specifically for North America, 44 GS detachable quads and six packs were built between 2003 and 2010.  Some resorts like Beaver Creek continued to order the Austrian-designed Uni-G so the GS never fully caught on.  Presumably it was phased out in 2010 to simplify production in a market with limited demand.

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