- Amid zip line dispute, Peak Resorts threatens to close Hidden Valley, remove five chairlifts and sell the land to a residential developer.
- “I’m very confident we’re going to have new resources we haven’t had in previous years,” Steamboat COO says of Crown/KSL ownership. Deer Valley President and COO Bob Wheaton makes similar comments in Park City.
- Saddleback sale to Australian firm still hasn’t closed.
- Bear Valley’s six-pack looks great in green and now has a name: Mokelumne Express.
- Who says detachable terminals must be symmetrical? Leitner experiments in Europe.
- T-Bar area in Edmonton, Alberta shuts down.
- At the end of a tough year, Granby Ranch goes up for sale.
- New Heavenly trail map confirms Galaxy won’t spin again this season, leaving a big hole in Nevada.
- Epic Passes account for 43 percent of Vail Resorts revenue.
- New lifts at the Yellowstone Club get names: Eglise, Great Bear and Little Dipper. A few hundred families now enjoy the 15th largest lift fleet in the country.
Seventy percent of the 1,277 T-Bars, J-Bars and platter (sometimes called Poma) lifts built in North America to date are no longer in service. That would suggest the traditional surface lift is a dying breed in the age of beginner-friendly carpets, which go in by the dozen every year of late. But over the last two seasons, a bit of a renaissance has emerged, with more mountain resorts adding brand new T-Bars and platters. Four T-Bars being completed right now represent the highest number in North America since 1987. Even more resorts are considering building these classic surface lifts, although the reasons why have little to do with learning to ski.
Yesterday I visited both Burke Mountain, Vermont and Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire, where local ski clubs recently partnered to build dedicated surface lifts on terrain used for racing. In some cases, these types of lifts are open to the public but other times not. New T-Bars are relatively cheap with costs typically covered by donors and/or program fees. Another reason for this application is speed; every T-Bar built since 2011 can move at least 550 feet per minute, significantly faster than most fixed-grip chairlifts. The Franconia Notch Ski Club’s new T was built by LST Ropeways and goes up to 690 fpm; Burke Mountain Academy’s nearly-finished one is a Leitner, shown below.
- Firm pitches gondola to link South Station to the Seaport district in Boston.
- The United Nations Human Settlements Programme and Doppelmayr publish a 12-page summary of their first Academy of Sustainable Urban Mobility conference held in Austria last April.
- LST Ropeways will build its second North American lift at Waterville Valley, though Skytrac will no longer provide controls, operator houses and installation for the French company.
- A new Doppelmayr gondola, bubble high speed quad and triple chair will debut in December on Eglise Mountain at the Yellowstone Club, by far the biggest lift project in North American skiing for 2017. Thanks to Everett K. for these cool photos of the progress.
- Y.C. has also listed for sale the 160-acre Cedar View Ranch, offering someone the opportunity to build a private lift to the bottom of the Lake lift.
- Anakeesta opens tomorrow.
- Eldora flies towers and ditches the announced Eldo Express name in favor of Alpenglow. Photos credit Michael Weise.
The Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, Montana will likely build not one, but three new lifts this summer as it adds Eglise Mountain to its expansive roster of ski terrain. The second section of a future two-stage gondola, along with a detachable bubble quad chair and new beginner triple chair are all slated to debut in time for the Club’s 17th winter season next year.
Doppelmayr USA will build the new lifts and already poured many of the tower and terminal footings last summer. The upper section of the 8-passenger Eglise Gondola will debut first, with the lower stage to be added when the 550,000 square-foot Village Core is substantially completed. That project, located adjacent to the Warren Miller Lodge, is also underway and currently the biggest construction project in Montana. A dedicated building in the village will eventually house the new gondola’s base terminal, not far from the Lodge lift.
Every Tuesday, we feature our favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.
Time spent in the mountains with friends and family this holiday season is hard to beat. With beautiful views and fresh snow on the way, there is something for anyone to do. PC: @di_pulido . . . . . #crystalmountain #nobaddays #happyholidays #skicrystal #visitcrystalmtnwa #wanderwashington #findyouradventure
Looking down the Chandragiri hilltop station in Kathmandu, Nepal. . . #realnepal #nepal #nepali #mountains #himalayas #lovelynepal #beautifulnepal #discovernepal #travel #beautiful #adventure #natureporn #naturegram #natureaddict #instagood #passionpassport #earthfocus #yourshotphotographer #travelawesome #tourtheplanet #earthcapture #wilderness_culture #artofvisuals #folkgood #exploretocreate #earthfocus #livefolk #createcommune #agameoftones
Every Tuesday, we pick our favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.
- Designer Jared Ficklin talks about his dream for urban cable in Austin.
- More details surface regarding Aspen Mountain’s replacement 1A lift.
- The Yellowstone Club unveils plans for The Village, anchored by a new Eglise Gondola and high speed quad.
- Vail Resorts’ Canyons Village Master Plan includes a strategic new Sunrise lift providing access to the Quicksilver Gondola.
- Peak Resorts lost $3.2 million last year and will not make any major capital investments at its 14 mountains in 2017.
- Another Yan detachable has found its way to Iran.
- Doppelmayr may build another urban gondola project in The Philippines, this one in the southern city of Davao.
- Caberfae Peaks is nearly finished building its new chairlift.
- Sunday River’s insurance company indicates a failure of the grout that secured the top terminal to bedrock caused last week’s failure.
There are 63 chairlifts in the US and Canada that stretch longer than 7,000 feet but only four over 10,000′. Six of the top ten are in the State of Colorado and all but two are detachable quads. Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops, BC claims the title of the longest fixed-grip chairlift in the world and the only non-detachable among North America’s hundred longest lifts. A ride on the Burfield Quad takes a painful 21 minutes to go 9,510 feet (and that’s at full speed.) Below are the top ten longest chairlifts in the US and Canada.
1. Slide Brook Express, Sugarbush, Vermont – 11,012 feet
1995 Doppelmayr Detachable Quad
2. Chile Express, Angel Fire Resort, New Mexico – 10,992 feet
1996 Poma Detachable Quad
3. Sunshine Express, Telluride, Colorado – 10,732 feet
1986 Doppelmayr Detachable Quad
4. Village Express, Snowmass, Colorado – 10,074 feet
2005 Leitner-Poma Detachable Six
5. American Flyer, Copper Mountain, Colorado – 9,907 feet
1986 Poma Detachable Quad
These days building a detachable lift means a capital investment of at least $3 million plus around $100,000 in annual maintenance. A so-called ‘pulse’ lift offers the speed of a detachable system with similar infrastructure to a traditional fixed-grip lift. Chairs or cabins are grouped together into ‘pulses’ and the entire lift slows down for loading and unloading. When comparing types of aerial lifts there are always trade-offs; here they include low capacity and long headways. Most pulse lifts can only move 300-600 passengers per hour and headway – the time a passenger has to wait for a carrier to show up – can be minutes instead of as low as six seconds. Perfect for certain applications but unsuitable in most.
There are currently 17 pulse lifts operating in the US, Canada and Mexico; all but three are gondolas. Nearly all were built in the last 15 years. Panorama Mountain Village, Northstar California, Steamboat, Snowmass, Canyons Resort, and Le Massif all use pulse gondolas to connect village areas. These lifts are usually less than 3,000 feet long and convenient for skiers and non-skiers alike. Other pulse gondolas are attractions in their own right such the Iron Mountain Tramway at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, SkyTrail at Trees of Mystery, the Gondola at Royal Gorge Bridge Bridge & Park and the Riverfront Park SkyRide in Spokane. There is also a new Leitner-Poma pulse gondola in Orizaba, Mexico with tripod towers that are hundreds of feet tall.
Snow Valley in Edmonton, Alberta has a very unique pulse chairlift built by Doppelmayr in 2008. Instead of having groups of 3-5 chairs, it has just two groups of 20 closely-spaced quad chairs. Because it is only 850 feet long, the lift can move 1,378 skiers per hour at up to 5 m/s, the same speed as most detachable lifts. In fact the ride is only about a minute. The lift slows to a beginner-friendly 0.8 m/s for loading and unloading. Because of the low speed, skiers ride around the bullwheel at the top and unload facing down the hill. It’s the only lift I know of with 180-degree unloading.
Growing up in the rainy Pacific Northwest, I happen to love chairs with bubbles. I can get the comfort of a gondola without taking my skis off or enjoy fresh air like on any other chairlift. Lifts with bubbles are technically very cool too. Electronic eyes in the lift terminals know when chairs are empty and the bubbles lower automatically. Chairs stay dry and lifties don’t have to sweep them or flip chairs at night.
Despite their added comfort, bubbles haven’t really caught on in North America. Europe is a different story where 30+ lifts are built with them every year. In the US and Canada, Doppelmayr has built 16 lifts with bubbles since 1985. You can find them at Whistler-Blackcomb, Sun Peaks, Mont-Saint-Anne, Big Sky, Canyons and Stoneham. The Yellowstone Club also has bubbles on all six of their quad chairs.