News Roundup: Beyond Skiing

  • According to the New York State contracting website, the Gore Mountain Sunway, High Peaks, Hudson and Whiteface Bear Den lift replacement projects that went out to bid last fall are all on hold.  Two bids were received for the Olympic Jumping Complex gondola in Lake Placid but no builder has been selected as of January 18th.
  • A chair falls off a 1993 Yan detachable quad in Spain, closing an entire ski resort indefinitely.
  • Lift service returns to Killington’s South Ridge for the first time in a decade as of yesterday.
  • Bartholet completes its first 10 passenger gondola lift in Norway.
  • Les Otten lobbies for a new bill that would permit public financing for The Balsams redevelopment.
  • The proposed gondola in Idaho Springs, Colorado would be modeled after the Sea to Sky Gondola, which now carries more than 400,000 riders a year in British Culumbia.  The 1.2 mile Colorado version would rise 1,100 feet above Interstate 70.
  • The largest lost ski resort in Canada, Fortress Mountain, could reopen with a mix of new and refurbished lifts in 2020.
  • Sun Valley and Snowbasin ditch the Mountain Collective Pass for a partnership with Vail Resorts and the Epic Pass starting next winter.
  • The Laconia Daily Sun explains how Highland Mountain Bike Park finds success on the grounds of a long lost New Hampshire ski area.
  • The former longtime operator of Timberline Four Seasons Resort is indicted, accused of illegally prescribing pain drugs.  The ski area suffered a major lift accident in 2016 and has operated only sporadically this winter.
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New York State Goes Lift Shopping

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This triple chair at Gore Mountain is one of three chairlifts scheduled for replacement at state-run New York ski resorts in 2019.

Only a handful of ski mountains in the United States are government owned and operated.  The largest public ski outfit by far is New York’s Olympic Regional Development Authority, which runs Belleayre, Gore Mountain, Whiteface and the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex at Lake Placid.  All but one of these properties are likely to see new lifts in 2019.  Because the mountains are funded in part by taxpayers, potential lift projects are subject to competitive procurement.  Over the last month, the Authority has opened requests for proposals for a new high speed quad at Gore Mountain, a quad chair at Whiteface and a surprise gondola at the ski jump.

Lift 12 at Gore Mountain is to be replaced and extended in a new alignment as shown on the area’s management plan.

Back on September 17th, ORDA opened bidding for a chairlift replacement project at Gore Mountain.  “Gore Mountain Ski Resort will be replacing their existing triple chair lift with a high speed detachable quad chair lift,” notes the New York State Contract Reporter.  “This would be a turnkey project where the winning bidder would provide all materials, labor and equipment to build and install the lift.”  This is almost certainly the approved upgrade of Hudson, a 2010 Partek build.  Bids were due last Tuesday and the term is 12 months.  Leitner-Poma of America built the last three detachable lifts at Gore, so I’d argue it is their contract to lose.

Next up is an RFP for a new Bear Den quad at Whiteface, the largest ski mountain in the east by vertical.  The current Riblet triple in the Bear Den base area will become one of many late model Riblet lifts to be replaced recently.  I assume this one will be fixed grip but the contract reporter website does not specify.  Bids are due on Monday, November 26th.  Doppelmayr would seem to have the edge at Whiteface, having built the mountain’s three newest lifts.

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The last Riblet at Whiteface will probably be retired next spring.

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Gore & Whiteface Propose Ten New Lifts

Whiteface is the largest resort in the East by vertical and played host to the 1980 Olympic Downhill.  The New York State-owned Olympic Regional Development Authority continues to operate Whiteface along with nearby Gore Mountain and Belleayre in the Catskills.  This week, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed an impressive $62.5 million for capital improvements at ORDA facilities for 2018-19.  While the budget proposal is not yet law and does not identify specific items, it is likely to fund projects from Whiteface and Gore‘s management plans which, probably not coincidentally, were updated this month to include up to ten new lifts.

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The biggest project in Whiteface’s future is the replacement of the Freeway double (a 1978 Hall) in a completely new and much longer alignment.  A new high-speed quad would start at in the base area and cross over the Little Whiteface double-double, topping out on the Upper Mackenzie trail.  Two new trails would be cut from the top, making this lift ideal for intermediate skiers and riders.  A second project would replace the 1984 VonRoll double named Bear with a fixed-grip quad.  An offload opportunity would be included near the current top terminal and the new lift would continue to the Mid-station lodge area parallel with the Face Lift detachable quad.

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Current Whiteface trail map for reference.

Significant improvements are planned for the Bear Den beginner complex.  A relocated Riblet double-turned-triple currently services this zone and would be replaced with a fixed-grip quad.  “The new quad and magic carpet at Bear Den will serve the extensive trail work we are planning in that area,” Whiteface General Manager Aaron Kellett tells NY Ski Blog.  “We want to extend the lift top terminal higher to create better flow in and out of the area.”  Last year, Whiteface proposed a new lift from Bear Den all the way to the Mid-station but that plan has morphed into a conceptual transfer lift between the two base areas.  A second transfer lift (think gondola, pulse gondola or cabriolet) could link the main parking lot to the base lodge.

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News Roundup: Dire

  • Hemlock Mountain, BC re-brands as Sasquatch Mountain and eyes a high-speed quad to replace Skyline.
  • Vail Resorts’ fiscal 2017 net income rose 40.6 percent and skier visits 20.1 percent over 2016 with Epic Pass pass sales trending 17 percent higher for 2017-18.
  • Och-Ziff sells Mountain High back to previous ownership group.
  • Frost Fire, ND won’t open this winter, citing the “dire” condition of its triple chairlift.  The nonprofit mountain estimates $1.35 million is needed to buy a replacement.  The statement makes no mention of the mountain’s other lift, a double chair with Poma components.
  • Sugarloaf’s five year plan would turn the SuperQuad into a SuperSix in 2019, move the CTEC Stealth to Timberline and add a T-Bar to Brackett Basin in 2021.
  • Kevin Mastin paints a new trail map for Whiteface.
  • Belleayre’s gondola will feature a new rack design for snowboards and skis of different sizes.
  • Steamboat Resort won’t operate Howelsen Hill.
  • Resorts grapple with whether service dogs should ride chairlifts.
  • Allen Peak Tram’s new tower is in at Snowbasin.
  • Doppelmayr’s latest Wir magazine features Oakland’s new gondola and more.