News Roundup: Rope Time

  • Searchmont, Ontario sells to Wisconsin Resorts, the firm behind Pine Knob, Mt. Holly and Ski Bittersweet in Michigan as well as Alpine Valley, Wisconsin.
  • Mike Solimano of Killington reveals what three lifts he would upgrade if given $100 million to spend at The Beast.
  • The new Winter Park gondola is creatively named Gondola.
  • Grand Junction’s NBC affiliate takes viewers inside the factory where Leitner-Poma lifts are created.
  • The two stage Blackcomb Gondola is almost finished; thanks Max for these pictures.
  • Next up for Ramcharger 8 at Big Sky: installation of an in-terminal video wall and the haul rope, which is going up right now.
  • Beech Mountain commissions its twin fixed grip quads.
  • Freeskier looks at Alterra’s whirlwind growth and future trajectory.
  • Rope pulling commences tonight at Walt Disney World, 24 years to the day since the Disneyland Skyway cable was taken down for good.
  • This week’s new trail map comes from Hunter Mountain.
  • In an act of sabotage, someone cuts into three haul ropes at a Pyrenees ski resort.

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Whitefish Seeks to Elevate Hellroaring Basin

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Under a new concept, Whitefish Mountain Resort would remove the current Hellroaring triple and build two new lifts at higher elevations.  Lift lines are approximate.

Following record attendance last winter and its most successful season pass sale ever this fall, Whitefish Mountain Resort is looking to better disperse guests across its 3,000 acres.  Under a plan submitted to the Forest Service yesterday, the closest ski area to Glacier National Park would move one lift and add another in Hellroaring Basin.  The generally west facing drainage is currently served only at the bottom by a 1985 CTEC triple.  It loads at just 4,675 feet above sea level and offers only one trail for direct repeat skiing.

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Hellroaring closes annually on April 1st to give waking Grizzly Bears peace and quiet.

On the heels of the successful Chair 5 realignment, Whitefish would like to move Chair 8 to begin at the junction of Hell Fire and Glory Hole, a spot known as Grand Junction.  The upgraded triple would unload near the top of the 1,000 Turns run, approximately 300 vertical feet below the Big Mountain summit.  It would be steep – around 2,900′ long by 1,050′ of vertical – with a seven minute ride time.  This would be the CTEC’s third home; it was Chair 7 from 1985 to 1997 before moving to Hellroaring.  The current lift line and lower portion of Hell Fire would be permanently closed and rehabilitated to a natural state.

hellroaringmap

A second new chairlift – Whitefish’s 13th overall – would also load at Grand Junction and ascend 1,340 feet to Hellroaring Peak.  While the overall permit area wouldn’t grow, Hellroaring Basin would become much better utilized with a dedicated 4,300′ chairlift servicing eight newly-cut runs.  Vertical rise of Chair 12 would be 1,350 feet and additional grooming would allow intermediate skiers to enjoy Hellroaring Peak for the first time.  A specific lift type is not specified but Whitefish could opt to use Great Northern, a 1978 Stadeli triple (the mountain has quite the history moving lifts, having done ten relocations throughout its history.)

“We are excited to begin the process of possible future improvements in Hellroaring Basin,” Whitefish Mountain Resort CEO Dan Graves said in a press release.  “The Hellroaring Basin improvement project will increase access, and add improved slope variety.  Additionally, relocating the Hellroaring chairlift would allow riders to access more terrain than its current location therefore creating better flow around the mountain.”   The Flathead National Forest is soliciting public comments on the proposal through November 20th.  Forest managers will analyze it over the winter and expect to make a decision next June.  If approved, implementation could take two or more construction seasons at Whitefish Mountain Resort’s discretion.

News Roundup: Capital

  • There will be no construction at Valemount Glacier this year after all.
  • Catamount (the New York/Massachusetts one, not Colorado) seeks new investors or an outright buyer.
  • Following another best ever season, Whitefish Mountain Resort eyes improving lift service from the base lodge and in Hellroaring Basin, which might mean replacing lifts 4 and 8.
  • Blackcomb’s Catskinner triple will soon be available for sale.
  • Ski Areas of New York will again offer a series of lift maintenance training classes across the state.
  • French regulators propose $800,000 in fines against MND Group and its CEO for allegedly misleading investors and deleting emails, which the company denies.
  • Amid the turmoil, MND subsidiary LST Ropeways inks an order to install its second detachable chairlift worth $5.4 million in Avoriaz, France.
  • As Crested Butte departs the Powder Alliance, Marmot Basin, Castle Mountain, Sugar Bowl and Loveland join up.
  • Red Mountain is searching for a used Doppelmayr T-Bar.
  • Loveland confirms Leitner-Poma will build its much anticipated first high-speed quad.
  • The Trump Administration’s proposed tariffs target goods from China including “teleferics, chair lifts, ski draglines; and traction mechanisms for funiculars.” Outside contacted both Doppelmayr and Leitner-Poma for comment with interesting results.
  • More contractors and employees say the Hermitage Club didn’t fully pay them and the Town of Wilmington may hold a tax sale in June.
  • A man claims he was left to spend a cold night on one of Gore Mountain’s chairlifts and wasn’t found until the next morning, April Fool’s Day.
  • A bullwheel bearing issue on Nob Hill at Sugar Bowl throws a major wrench in the end of the season.

  • Bretton Woods’ new gondola is on track to break ground in June or July, which would make 11 new gondolas for 2018 in North America – the most ever.
  • Approaching two years post-Olympics, both urban gondolas in Rio remain abandoned.
  • Bloomberg is out with a not-so-complimentary article about the Whistler Blackcomb-Vail transition.
  • Doppelmayr wins contracts to build nine Beijing 2022 Olympic lifts including five gondolas and two bubble six place chairs.
  • A gondola once the symbol of an Olympics destroyed by war returns to Sarajevo thanks to Leitner Ropeways and a $3.5 million donation from an American.
  • The Oakland Athletics consider building a gondola to their new stadium.
  • Nine different mountains in Sweden will spin T-Bars for mountain bikers this summer.
  • If approved, Vail’s new Golden Peak lift will likely be a T-Bar.
  • Owl’s Head retires its Green lift and will give the chairs away to season pass buyers.
  • I started this blog three years ago this week as an off season project.  It now sees 215,000 page views each month from 40,000+ unique visitors.  Thanks to everyone who has helped to make Lift Blog a success!

In Whitefish, a Disused Lift is Born Again

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A 35-year old chairlift is proving very popular in Whitefish, Montana this season after moving from an alignment redundant with other lifts to an underutilized corner of the mountain.

Exactly half of the 14 lifts at Whitefish Mountain Resort stand in a second location, with some even finding a third home in Northwestern Montana.  By strategically re-engineering and relocating lifts from elsewhere on the mountain and beyond, Whitefish has been able to grow faster than many of its competitors and now encompasses 3,000 acres of glades, groomers and chutes.  This year’s move of Chair 5 creates the East Rim lift and turns a machine that sat idle for years into a dedicated lift for some of the finest advanced terrain in the Inland Northwest.

wmr_trailmap_frontside_1718For the first 50 years, every lift on Big Mountain was purchased new from a manufacturer.  That changed in 1999 and 2000, when the the Bigfoot and Sunrise T-Bars joined the Whitefish fleet just as consolidation and new technology were making new lifts increasingly expensive.  In 2002, the ski area acquired a Hall triple for a new beginner lift.  Continuing the pattern, Big Mountain, as it was then still known, snagged Moab’s failed Skyway experiment for another new beginner pod.  When the first-generation Glacier Chaser detachable needed to be replaced the following year, Whitefish had no choice but to go new for the flagship Big Mountain Express.  But instead of scrapping the old Doppelmayr, it shifted west to become the Swift Creek Express.  That summer’s lift shuffle also turned the old Easy Rider triple into Elk Highlands, a real estate egress lift.  In 2011, the Bad Rock lift was brought in all the way from Pennsylvania and now runs out of the base lodge in both winter and summer.  With a major lift renewal complete, Whitefish set its sights on expansion for winter 2014-15, opening the Flower Point lift and 200 additional acres.  That machine came from across the border, the old Rosa triple from Kimberley (and the predecessor to the Whistler Village Gondola before that.)  To summarize, Whitefish impressively built “new” lifts in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2014 and now 2017.

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This morning’s scene on the East Rim.

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News Roundup: Selloff

  • Owing $3.8 million to creditors, Deer Mountain, SD to be sold to the highest bidder in a sheriff’s sale today.  The mountain has two Riblet chairlifts.
  • Curbed counts down 11 gondolas changing the way people move through cities.
  • Steamboat sells off triple chairs from Four Points in 28 minutes (the lift got new Doppelmayr ones in 2012.)
  • Taos offloads 200 chairs from lifts 5 and 6 for $200 each with proceeds going to hurricane relief.  As of this writing, 37 remain.
  • Leitner Ropeways’ new gondola at the world’s largest hotel transported 3.5 million passengers in its first eight months.
  • Aspen Mountain installs Bluetooth speakers in Silver Queen Gondola cabins.
  • China Peak completes its first quad chair, the old Elkhead from Steamboat.
  • The Burnaby Mountain Gondola is back on the table.
  • Leitner-Poma of America inks contract to build a US$7.1 million high-speed quad at Falls Creek in Australia.
  • Vail Resorts launches interactive website with lift downtime and wait time data for last season at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Park City.
  • Belleayre’s gondola cabins arrive from across the pond.  Unfortunately, the name of the lift is spelled wrong on all of them.
  • Ski Magazine predicts the KSL-Aspen duo will benefit skiers with a second Epic-style season pass and major resort upgrades.
  • Skytrac and Timberline Helicopters fly towers for the new East Rim lift at Whitefish.  Thanks Buzz D. for these cool photos.

Instagram Tuesday: Steep

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

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This is probably one of my favorite shots from my trip out west last week. I saw the fog slowly coming down the mountain and ran outside to shoot the tram coming out of it. It took some patience but I love the moody vibes 👌🏼 Let me know what you think 😁 • • • • #nature_brilliance #EarthVisuals #artofvisuals #welivetoexplore #natureaddict #naturediversity #ourplanetdaily #earth_deluxe #instanaturelover #nature_perfection #folkcreative #VisualsOfLife #gearednomad #MoodyGrams #visualambassadors #exklusive_shot #thecreative #peoplescreatives #sombresociety #royalsnappingartists #wyoming #tetons #yellowstone #grandtetons #jacksonhole #grandtetonnationalpark #JJ_Forum_1979 #canon #canonusa #teamcanon

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Instagram Tuesday: Sky

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

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Whitefish Mountain to Build New East Rim Chair

Whitefish Mountain Resort will make a big lift move this summer, relocating Chair 5 from Ptarmigan Bowl to become a new East Rim lift.  Chair 5, also known as Glacier View and at times High Five, has not seen public operation since 2014/15 due to its redundancy with the Big Mountain Express and will better serve skiers in the North Bowl.  The $1.2 million project will cost more than double what the ski area paid for the original CTEC installation in 1981.  Whitefish Mountain Resort has contracted with Skytrac to make the move.

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Approximate location of the new East Rim chair looker’s right on the front side of Big Mountain.

“We are pleased to continue what has been a decade of steady improvements at Whitefish Mountain Resort with the re-position of Chair 5 to better utilize our lift infrastructure and improve the guest experience as we celebrate our 70th anniversary,” Whitefish Mountain Resort CEO Dan Graves said in a press release.  Although technically it does not open any new terrain, the East Rim lift will create a new pod between Chair 1 and T-Bar 2.  The new lift will rise 814 feet with a slope length of 2,540 feet and capacity of 1,600 skiers per hour. It will sport a new electric motor, drive, brakes, hydraulic tensioning, rebuilt gearbox and added restraining bars in the new location.

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Chair 5 at Whitefish will be moved East to North Bowl.

Whitefish has been all in on lift shuffling lately, acquiring the former Moab Scenic Skyway lift in 2006 and installing it as Easy Rider.  The original Glacier Chaser Express quad moved to become the Swift Creek Express in 2007, the same year old Easy Rider became Elk Highlands.  In 2011, Whitefish installed the Bad Rock triple which was relocated from a resort in Pennsylvania.  The 2014 addition of the Flower Point triple came from Kimberley, BC.  The new East Rim triple is scheduled to open in December 2017.  You can find out more about the history of Chair 5 and the new lift on the Whitefish Mountain Resort blog.