- At Mont Sutton, an empty chair falls from one lift while the mountain’s lone detachable quad remains out of service due to a technical issue.
- A Victoria, BC suburb considers building a transport gondola.
- Purgatory loses its workhorse six pack over the busy holiday (now back open).
- Ontario ski resorts, many of which are family businesses, try to stay optimistic during the provincial shutdown.
- Royal Mountain, New York changes hands.
- Italy postpones reopening ski resorts until January 18th.
- Jay Peak and Burke Mountain are set to receive $5.2 million under a settlement between a law firm and investors.
- Kimberley continues to spin two upper mountain lifts for hikers and skinners while repair work continues on the Northstar Express.
- Wolf Creek has a new James Niehues trail map.
- Open only one day before the pandemic, the SkyView gondola at Hard Rock Stadium gets set to reopen March 22nd.
- The new T-Bar at Sugarbush is named KBRA (Kelly Brush Race Arena).
- A fall and catch are caught on camera at Bristol Mountain.
- A newspaper profiles how lift maintenance and operations teams work together at Snowmass.
- Winter Park safely evacuates 143 people from the Pioneer Express. Public records show a component in the return terminal failed due to fatigue.
- Testing finds further work is needed to make the Mont-Sainte-Anne gondola safe. It may not open for four to eight weeks and season passholders are being offered refunds.
- Porkies, Michigan shuts down to complete a required chairlift inspection.
- Bousquet Mountain will open tomorrow under new ownership with a new lift.
- Hunter Mountain reopens today after a three day Covid-related closure.
- Sugarloaf’s forthcoming West Mountain expansion makes the trail map.
- Disney blogs report some recent downtime on the Skyliner.
- Pine Knob removes Chair 4 and puts a rope tow in its place.
- Four mountains get new trail maps from VistaMap: Granite Peak, Loon Mountain, Sunrise Park and West Mountain.
- Winter Park renames Eskimo Express Explorer Express with the following reason behind it:
Last summer, we examined the names of our trails and lifts, and recognized that the name “Eskimo” is considered derogatory and offensive by many. Through research we learned people in many parts of the Arctic consider Eskimo a derogatory term because it was widely used by racist, non-native colonizers. Many people also thought it meant eater of raw meat, which connoted barbarism and violence. Brands with longer histories than Winter Park’s have also decided to abandon the term. The iconic Eskimo Pie dropped the name in 2020, and the Edmonton Canadian football team announced it would no longer use the name as well.
Winter Park is a place for all people to Venture Out, to escape and retreat, to transform and trailblaze. Winter Park is an inclusive place and that’s why we moved to change the name of the Eskimo Express Lift to the Explorer Express Lift. The name “Explorer” more accurately represents our resort, our brand, our team, and our guests.
- Both Gore Mountain’s new lifts run in somewhat new locations.
- You can virtually tour the new 3K K-onnection 3S gondola, including on top of towers and inside stations.
- Europe’s longest 3S opens tomorrow.
- New ski area alert! Skeetawk sends first chair tomorrow after decades of dreaming.
- Paul Bunyan, Wisconsin to reopen this month after 25 years shuttered.
- Mt. Baldy, Ontario’s new quad chair isn’t finished so the ski area is closing for an hour to teach people how to ride the T-Bar.
- Austria and Switzerland say yes to skiing while France, Germany, and Italy continue to keep lifts closed.
- BousquetMountain.com goes live with a new trail map.
- Liftopia will likely be sold with proceeds going to creditors.
- Saddleback secures $1.3 million in new funding to support redevelopment.
- Mountain Capital Partners’ bet that Texans would love lift-served mountain biking is paying off.
- This fact sheet outlines the five transportation options for Little Cottonwood Canyon, two of which include a gondola.
Alterra Mountain Company will spend $181 million on capital improvements at its network of resorts this offseason, $32.3 million of which will go towards new lifts. The announcement comes on the heels of competitor Vail Resorts’ proclamation that it will devote $139 to 143 million to capital projects in 2019, including new lifts for Crested Butte and Stevens Pass.
At Colorado’s Winter Park Resort, a new Leitner-Poma six-pack will replace the Sunnyside triple, increasing uphill capacity by 800 people per hour and reducing ride time from eight minutes to 3.8. Sunnyside is a 1989 CTEC that provides egress from Parsenn Bowl and often experiences significant wait times.
In California, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows will debut the first Leitner-Poma of America LPA detachable to feature an intermediate station. The approximately 5,000 foot quad lift will follow the current Hot Wheels alignment with an offloading opportunity at the current top terminal site. Chairs will continue one minute further to Sherwood Ridge for direct access to the backside of Alpine. The first Leitner-Poma lift at Alpine Meadows will move a total of 2,400 skiers per hour between the three stations and cost approximately $10 million. “The new lift will benefit the Alpine Meadows experience on many levels,” said Ron Cohen, president and chief operating officer at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. “Terrain currently served by Hot Wheels is frequently used by learners and ski and ride school as the next progression after the beginner terrain in the base area. A detachable lift will make loading and unloading much easier for these groups, and the ride time will be more than cut in half. Alpine Meadows is a fantastic place to learn how to ski, and I am proud that we are continuing to foster that quality.” Squaw is also adding new rope tow and carpet lifts in the High Camp area to further improve beginner options and skier circulation.
As announced at the beginning of the winter, Doppelmayr will complete the Steamboat gondola rebuild this summer, adding new towers, all new cabins and more. With a speed increase, this key out-of-base lift will feature an increased capacity of 3,600 skiers per hour.
Another significant lift-related investment is RFID access gates and ticketing infrastructure at Deer Valley Resort. Other Alterra properties are getting snow cats, expanded snowmaking capabilities, restaurant remodels and new bike trails. “Alterra Mountain Company’s unique year-round mountain destinations offer skiers, riders and summer visitors of all ages from all over the world special, memorable experiences, and each aspect of our business plays a part in bringing the guest back year after year and inspiring a lifelong love of the mountains,” said Rusty Gregory, Chief Executive Officer of Alterra in a company-wide press release. “We are committed to investing in everything from lifts to snowmaking to creative dining experiences, and technology that weaves it all together for a seamless visit.” The privately-held firm has budgeted more than half a billion dollars for capital improvements through the 2022/2023 ski season. All 13 Alterra destinations participate in the Ikon Pass, which starts at $649 and goes on sale tomorrow morning.
- Winter Park’s Gondola becomes the third direct drive lift to open in as many weeks in the United States. As of October, there were zero!
- Pico is added to Ikon, bringing the pass to 40 mountains with a combined 474 lifts in the the US and Canada.
- The Hermitage Club won’t reopen until January at the earliest.
- The last of British Columbia’s seven new lifts debuts at Sun Peaks.
- I did a double take on this lift: a D-Line gondola with Carvatech cabins.
- The new American Flyer is very close to becoming the world’s longest bubble chair.
- Stratton’s new high speed quad is now set to open early in the new year.
- Skeetawk remains on track to become Alaska’s eleventh lift-served ski area next winter with a SkyTrans triple chair.
- An 8 year-old boy sustains only minor injuries falling 33 feet off a lift at Nordic Valley.
- The Colombian capital of Bogotá launches a $73 million urban gondola called TransMiCable.
- Frost Fire says it cannot open yet due to “contractual obligations with our chairlift,” a brand new Skytrac quad.
- Big Sky brings high speed access to the southern flank of Lone Peak with Shedhorn 4.
At just 15 months old, Alterra Mountain Company finds itself with over 200 chairlifts, gondolas and tramways in two countries. The 13 Alterra mountains mirror the broader ski industry with places like Deer Valley and Crystal Mountain sporting many newer lifts while the average chairlift at June Mountain is 45 years old.
On a Monday last March, the fledgling company based in Denver simultaneously unveiled its very first lift investments at Stratton, Tremblant and Winter Park along with other improvements like snowmaking at Snowshoe and a new restaurant at the base of Steamboat. Importantly, Alterra committed to spending $555 million in total capital over five years. That was before it bought Solitude and Crystal Mountain, which could mean even more money flowing over the next few construction seasons. While last year’s budget only included three new lifts, could we see more in 2019?
With the September approval of major projects by the Forest Service, Steamboat is poised for a comprehensive on-mountain transformation. Although the timing is fluid, a new Rough Rider learning center at mid-mountain will eventually be serviced by a new gondola from the village. Here, skiers and snowboarders will be able to choose from three new carpet lifts, a new and improved Bashor lift and a second fixed-grip chair replacing the Rough Rider surface tow.
A second initiative Steamboat could undertake in 2019 is the Pioneer Ridge expansion, which includes a 7,000 foot detachable quad and a dozen new trails. Other possible upgrades include adding chairs to Pony Express (currently at only 1,200 skiers per hour but designed for 2,400) or new cabins for the Silver Bullet. Wouldn’t it be cool for the new gondola and original one to have similar cabins?
The average lift at Alterra-operated Winter Park Resort is 27 years old. Six are early model detachable quads coming up for replacement. In the case of 32 year old Pioneer Express, an upgrade is overdue and I expect coming in 2019. A new version could add a snowboarder friendly mid loading station above the last section of Big Valley.
A second project I hope to see is a second stage of the new gondola from Sunspot to Lunch Rock, truly uniting Winter Park and Mary Jane. Sunnyside should be a high speed quad or six pack. A high speed replacement of Challenger would be a nice upgrade at Mary Jane. Looking Glass is tied for the oldest operating chairlift in Colorado. After Pioneer, High Lonesome is the next Poma detachable up for replacement if we go solely by age.
The above Intrawest era master plan earmarked Gemini Express to be converted into an eight passenger gondola with a new learning center surrounding its top station. Endeavor could go detachable as part of this project and/or Discovery made into a fixed grip quad. Finally, a lift is envisioned to expand Vasquez Ridge Territory with four new intermediate trails. With all of these ideas on the table, I expect Winter Park to get at least one lift in 2019 and hopefully two.
- 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.
- Construction of Montana Snowbowl’s TV Mountain lift may stretch into a fourth construction season.
- Sun Peaks wins my vote for the best new lift color scheme of 2018.
- SnowBrains shines a light on the lift maintenance profession.
- Mountain Creek looks to exit bankruptcy with SNOW Operating as a controlling partner.
- Westside Six comes together at Windham Mountain.
- 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!
- Beaver Creek renames the Buckaroo Express gondola Haymeadow Express, the name of the double chair which ran in the same alignment from 1980 to 2007.
- Whether the Hermitage Club closes a $30 million loan to catch up on lift maintenance and operate this winter is still an open question.
- Arapahoe Basin and Leitner-Poma fly steel for the Beavers project.
- As of yesterday, Vail Resorts officially operates Okemo, Mt. Sunapee and Crested Butte.
- Vail reports fiscal 2018 resort EBITDA was $616.6 million, an increase of 3.9 percent over the prior year. 2018-19 season pass sales are up 25 percent in units and 15 percent in dollars as of Sunday.
- West Mountain adds a million dollar chairlift and looks to build another.
- A New York-based developer receives one of many approvals for Mayflower Village at Deer Valley, which could eventually mean a slate of new lifts.
- Doppelmayr is named in connection with an urban gondola eyed for Long Beach, California.
- Watch a remarkable 3S gondola launch live from Zermatt at 9:15 Eastern tomorrow morning, 6:15 Pacific.
- The CFO and COO of Peak Resorts open up about their decision to buy Snow Time and note the three new mountains don’t immediately need much capital investment.
- The longtime owners of Great Divide, Montana plan to sell to another couple next year.
- Legendary ski resort builder Les Otten remains committed to The Balsams but laments, “time is killing this project.”
- Mountain Capital Partners releases more details on the Spider Mountain Bike Park project.
- The damaged Zugspitze cabin is successfully lowered to the valley for disassembly. The cable car’s operator says damage exceeds $1.2 million and the lift could reopen by year end.
- Boreal names its new quad California Cruiser.
- The latest Leitner-Poma six-pack at Hunter Mountain, seen below, will be called Northern Express.
When holiday crowds catch a Cabriolet to The Village at Winter Park Resort this year, the second lift they’ll see is the resort’s first true gondola. Capable of hauling 3,600 skiers per hour out of the base area, the new Zephyr lift replaces a 1990 high-speed quad that could do only 2,600 in a perfect hour. Announced in March, the Leitner-Poma system will be similar to Vail’s Gondola One but with something totally new to the North American market: DirectDrive.
Sigma is fabricating 79 ten passenger Diamond cabins with the fresh Winter Park logo unveiled on Monday. The $16 million gondola and new brand are just part of a $28.2 million capital drive this year in cooperation with Winter Park’s operator, Alterra Mountain Company. Amazingly for a resort of WP’s size, this is the first new lift in ten years. Snowmaking is also seeing mega upgrades and a new heated village plaza will lead seamlessly to the bottom gondola terminal. The old Zephyr had 20 four passenger cabins used for restaurant access at night but the new version will be fully ADA accessible and operate day and night.
- A wild wind video from South America makes the internet rounds. Anyone know why are there double and quad chairs on the same lift?
- A founding partner of the hugely successful Sea to Sky Gondola looks at building a similar lift along the Trans-Canada Highway near Chilliwack, BC.
- 9News checks in on Winter Park’s major gondola upgrade.
- Mexicable’s second gondola line could be a $105 million monster: 5.2 miles long with six stations carrying an estimated 35,000 riders each day.
- I usually write about lifts and not myself but Skytrac recently interviewed me.
- A BC court will hear the case of a skier injured when a Mueller lift de-roped four years ago. Crystal Mountain never reopened following the incident, which was blamed on multiple factors.
- A local photographer is posting weekly pictures of Killington’s three simultaneous lift installations.
- Fatzer releases more details on the US debut of Compacta at Big Sky.
- The Balsams withdraws its application for a $28 million state loan guarantee, effectively shelving redevelopment for now.
- LST’s American lift number two looks sharp at Waterville Valley.
- Another Blackcomb Gondola update courtesy of Rob at WB shows how giant UNI-G XXLs are.