Tamarack – Stratton, VT

This very unique Borvig has a large bottom terminal building.
Very rare ’70s-era towers.
View into the loading area.
Approaching the load zone.
Drive/tension carriage.
Counterweight setup.
Unload ramp up top.
Top station seen from below.
View up the lift line.
Looking down line.
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35 thoughts on “Tamarack – Stratton, VT

  1. somebody January 28, 2019 / 11:43 am

    This lift is getting replaced with a HSQ in the very near future (confirmed by ski patrol). There also was some ambitious proposals for another lift related to Tamarack, way too hard to explain though. Here’s a picture/diagram I made from google earth that shows it pretty well.

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    • skitheeast January 28, 2019 / 12:13 pm

      I have also heard this from employees, although this project is summer 2020-2022 timeframe. The South American quad will be removed when this lift is eventually installed, as it will end where South American currently ends.

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      • somebody January 28, 2019 / 12:20 pm

        Didn’t heard about that! Any idea where South American will go? Think it will be scrapped?

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  2. Collin Parsons January 28, 2019 / 1:34 pm

    I think this idea is spot-on. It will create an isolated beginner area served by an easy to load detachable lift. As far as the old lifts go, I think Tamarack would be scrapped and South American sold off like Snow Bowl was (maybe reopen Timber Ridge at Magic? Just a thought). I also think relocating Solstice to become an access lift out of Lot 2 would be a good idea.

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    • skitheeast January 28, 2019 / 4:12 pm

      Allegedly, Stratton cannot make Lot 2 lift accessed due to an issue with the Treetop development. I’m assuming Tamarack would be scrapped because it’s a ’76 Borvig. South American is more interesting because it is an ’85 Poma, so it has resale value, but it is already in its second location and I am not sure if that has a negative impact on its price. As much as I would love to see Timber Ridge at Magic, I don’t think their management/ownership can take that on at the moment.

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    • reaperskier January 28, 2019 / 6:24 pm

      I think tamarack would make a great beginner lift at magic. All it would need is some partek upgrades and boom!

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      • somebody January 28, 2019 / 7:15 pm

        Where though? Green just was completed, so go to the west side? Or Timber ridge?

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        • reaperskier January 29, 2019 / 4:41 am

          The west side.

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  3. Collin Parsons January 28, 2019 / 6:27 pm

    I don’t see the point of the lift across the road. Why not just move the new Tamarack base closer to the road and build a foot bridge from the parking lot?

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    • somebody January 28, 2019 / 7:10 pm

      Tamarack is on flat ground with a hill right behind it. Currently, Crossing the road isn’t the problem, but climbing 30 feet straight up a hill is. Also a bridge would pretty much have to go straight up and be 10-15 feet off the ground. Now imagine everybody from a huge planned hotel (and from the existing large inn) trying to use this bridge at the same time at 9am on a Saturday morning.

      Also, huge marketing. The convenience of being next to a lift is worth hundreds/thousands of dollars for some people. “Walk to the lift”, even if its a minute walk, markets much worse.

      On top of that, remember this is my educated guess on the lift to span the road. For all I know, they could be planning on building a skier bridge, and adding skiing all the way down to the golf course.

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    • skitheeast January 29, 2019 / 11:10 am

      Stratton recently acquired the Lift Line Lodge across the street. Ideally, they would knock it down and build a new flagship hotel in partnership with a major hotel chain and most likely have timeshares. The property is worth millions more if it can be branded as ski-in/ski-out, so a skier bridge and lower lift base allows them to do this. Because the Tamarack lift base is currently ~40-50 feet above the height of where the lot/hotel/road is, a green sloped skier bridge can easily be created above the road with less difficulty than if the lift was already at the same elevation as the road. The one wrench in this project is Alterra, as they no interest in developing real estate. However, Stratton’s real estate team is pretty influential and the company seems willing to throw money behind a project if the mountain really believes in it.

      Skiing would not continue all the way down to the golf course. It would simply end at the base of the lift across the road.

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      • Collin Parsons January 29, 2019 / 11:30 am

        I think sending everyone over a skier bridge is impractical as there are several runs off Tamarack that would merge into one to go over the road. One option is to have a mid station where the lift starts now which is similar to what Beaver Creek has on Elkhorn. It would be expensive to do on a detachable, but surely less expensive than building two separate lifts and easier to staff.

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        • skitheeast January 29, 2019 / 1:26 pm

          I think you are overestimating the traffic on this lift. A ~100 foot wide skier bridge should be sufficient. It is currently only beginners who are at a stage in between the Magic Carpet learning center area and blue trails. With a D4C, traffic would increase slightly, but this would mostly be in skiers heading up the mountain in the morning, not anyone lapping this lift. A mid station would make absolutely no sense because it is expensive (as you mentioned) and it really only saves a maximum 500 feet of skiing.

          I understand the width/merge concerns, but it should not be an issue. When mountains study widths of trails, they take into account skier density. The mellower a slope, the higher skier density it can have because there is a lower maximum speed one can possibly go, so everyone can be more compact moving at a relatively similar pace. Since the bridge would start from a light green sloped area and continue to have a similar slope, a width of ~100 feet should not be an issue. If we assume the bridge has a demand of 2400 skiers/hour to match the lift’s capacity, that would be 40 skiers/min or 4 skiers across (25 feet width per skier) every 10 seconds (spacing between skiers). That should be sufficient.

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        • Collin Parsons January 29, 2019 / 2:09 pm

          Belleayre Mountain has a skier bridge to allow people to lap their gondola. Its a lot narrower than 100 feet and the lift capacity is 2000. It definitely gets crowded on weekends and skied off fast. I’m not sure a 100 foot wide bridge is practical either. A standard lane of traffic is 12 feet. Picture and 8 lane wide bridge.

          A Tamarack high speed quad would most likely not run at full speed because there would be a lot of beginners, so the capacity (and skier density) would be lower.

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        • skitheeast January 30, 2019 / 5:48 pm

          I don’t think Belleayre is a good comparison because their gondola is the primary out of a base area while this would be a lift serving primarily beginners and skiers heading up the mountain in the morning. Yes, it’s 2000 capacity is lower than the assumed 2400 of a D4C, but that doesn’t mean the demand for the lift is proportional. Also, Belleayre’s snowmaking/grooming team is not nearly as dependable as Stratton’s, so there should be a deeper base (although yes, it will most likely inevitably be skied off similarly to Black Bear or the URSA base). Again, because this lift would really only be lapped by beginners and this won’t even be from the main base area, it should be fine.

          Regarding bridge width, given Stratton’s two existing skier bridges for Lower Tamarack and Craig’s Run are each about 80-90 feet wide, I do not think 100 feet is absurd especially given that there is enough space.

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        • Collin Parsons January 30, 2019 / 6:07 pm

          I think having the road tunnel under where it is now and the ski trail following the existing grade would be a better option than trying to build a bridge over it for the trail. Then the width can be wider and whenever you build a skier bridge you get a massive drop off on the other side since it pretty much has to be level. Then the trail could be 100-150 feet wide. As part of this the access to Lot 1 would need to be moved to the other side closer to the Sun Bowl.

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        • skitheeast January 30, 2019 / 6:25 pm

          Because Tamarack’s existing base is already 40-50 feet above the road/lot/hotel, it should be able to be mildly sloped across and go over the road without needed to tunnel. I would look at the the bridge for Lupin at Mammoth or Village Run at Northstar as examples of ski bridges that are mildly sloped all the way across and go over a road. Even the existing two skier bridges at Stratton are mildly sloped all the way across.

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        • Sam Altavilla September 11, 2019 / 10:17 am

          Having a lift that runs down into the hotel/parking lot can also cut shuttle bus costs, since guests can ride directly to the mid-station from the parking lot. The only lot that would still need shuttle service would be the second lot which is a ways away from the base.

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      • Tijsen September 10, 2019 / 12:18 pm

        Mountain ops says that they are thinking of having two stages for tamarack express, stage one built into, in front, or next to the new lifeline lodge, mid station at current tamarack start, and the top being slightly higher than current top.

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        • Collin Parsons September 10, 2019 / 2:48 pm

          I think an angle station would be too expensive for that lift. A half mid station would work well. Then the top would probably be adjacent to the mid mountain lodge which the current lift does not access. The question is if they do a skier bridge across the road, or do a full mid station and allow people to download across the road.

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        • skitheeast September 10, 2019 / 3:13 pm

          I have been hearing the same thing this summer, which is a change of pace from their previous idea of making one continuous lift from the Liftline Lodge all the way up. After the massive success of lowering URSA’s lift lines with the new Snow Bowl lift while simultaneously setting a record for skier days, there is a surge for projects aimed at improving skier flow across the mountain. They now want to expedite this project and complete it within the next 2 years (either summer 2020/21) but have no set timeline for the Liftline Lodge replacement (which is dependent on summer visitation) that the lift would serve. So, the new plan is to later extend the lift and add a skier bridge once the new hotel opens. The original plan was also to have the new top be where the current South American top is so it could access Mid-Mountain Lodge (which is slated to be renovated in either 2020 or 2021) and URSA, but they are now looking to see if they can squeeze the lift in somewhere else (so South American could remain in place) while preserving Mid-Mountain and URSA access.

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        • reaperskier September 10, 2019 / 3:46 pm

          So is a kidderbrook express in the plans for stratton?

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        • Collin Parsons September 10, 2019 / 5:01 pm

          This is very good info Skitheeast. May I ask what your source is?

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        • Tijsen September 10, 2019 / 7:21 pm

          The problem with the half angle is how will the other side angle? Craig (vp mountain ops) also said that is is expensive, however will make flow easier, as people coming from lodge won’t have to go onto another lift. Also no plans for a bridge. Two way loading between mid terminus and lower.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Tijsen September 10, 2019 / 7:22 pm

          No kidderbrook express in five year masterplan.

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        • skitheeast September 10, 2019 / 8:04 pm

          @reaperskier I have heard nothing about Kidderbrook Express (as much as I would appreciate the chair). Personally, I would be surprised to see another lift at Kidderbrook with Shooting Star in existence without a significant terrain expansion. @Collin Parsons I am friends with a few Alterra/Stratton employees and everyone has been very excited to talk about the changes under Alterra ownership. However, as a general rule, most ski resort employees with the knowledge will happily share what their future expansion plans are because A) many have to publish them for the public/US government anyway and B) they have to entice visitors to return, regulars to buy real estate, and homeowners to remain happy with promises of new terrain, lifts, lodges, etc.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Collin Parsons September 10, 2019 / 8:35 pm

          This makes the project seem much more likely, now that there’s some confirmed info instead of just speculation. It will be interesting to see what kind of solution they end up using for a road crossing. So many different options. The full mid station with two way loading would be similar to Sweetwater at Jackson Hole, but it’s never been done on a chair before in North America. They would need to have very good signage of which side of the lift to go to in order to ride up or down. Also not sure of the staffing requirements for such a complex station. The phasing of the project would likely mean the lift would be top drive since it’s easier to relocate a return terminal to extend the lift rather than a drive terminal.

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        • Peter Landsman September 10, 2019 / 8:42 pm

          Sounds more like Eglise at Yellowstone Club than Sweetwater. After skiing on Eglise Rock, guests must re-board the gondola at the mid-station downbound to return to the village.

          We staff three operators at the mid-station of Sweetwater at any given time.

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        • xlr8r September 10, 2019 / 10:50 pm

          If the new tamarack is going to be a chair (which it should be) not a gondola, what is the point of extending it across the street without a bridge to ski down to the base. I would think it would be better to just build Tamarack as a HSQ starting in its current location, and then eventually building a short cabriolet gondola from Liftline Lodge/parking lot to the bottom of Tamarack. As for the location of the new Tamarack top terminal, the current location of where South American terminates would be ideal. IMO South American should have originally been built to end on the other side of the Mid Mountain lodge at the top of Suntanner anyway. In its current alignment it would not make sense to extend Tamarack as it would create a lot of cross traffic on the intersection of trails just above the Mid Mountain lodge. I think the current Tamarack did use to go further up the mountain a few hundred feet and was shortened years ago to resolve this issue, though I might be wrong.

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        • Tijsen September 11, 2019 / 5:58 am

          The problem with the bridge is that the hotel will be taking up a large area of the current liftline lodge lot, so there isn’t any room for the bridge to stop and no room for people to slow down. Another problem is the height. Bridge would need to have a steep decline once its over the road in order for trucks, buses, and other large vehicles to fit under it (12+ foot clearance?)

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        • Collin Parsons September 11, 2019 / 9:10 am

          I believe the existing lift was completely realigned in 2001. It used to extend higher to facilitate a transfer to the North American Double (and later quad). When URSA replaced both North American and Grizzly in 1999, there was no need for a transfer, so a couple years later the lift was shortened and realigned. I guess they did the realignment because the current top terminal location is better than if it were on the original route, and they couldn’t put the top where they wanted by simply shortening the original route.

          As for South American, it might have made more sense to run it up the Suntanner slope, but it is where it is now, and that’s not changing. I think they built it there since it was a replacement for the Tyrolienne Double and wanted it to start closer to where the former lift did. I think it’s definitely possible to keep it and have the new Tamarack also end at the mid mountain lodge. Likely would go slightly higher than South American and be a side unload like the Bluebird Express at Mount Snow, but facing the opposite direction. I don’t think South American should be removed because of the need for redundancy at the main base. If the gondola and/or AMEX goes down it’s already a major problem, and would be even more so without South American providing backup capacity.

          As for the merits of a mid station vs. a separate transfer lift, the mid station would allow a one seat ride from the proposed hotel to the mid mountain lodge. That would be faster and easier for hotel guests, possibly increasing the nightly rates they can charge. The separate transfer lift might be easier to operate since they wouldn’t need to send up empty chairs from the bottom. Regardless, there would be no skier bridge. If it is one lift with a mid station, you would be able to download from the mid station to get back to the parking lot and hotel. I could see that going either way at this point, even though it appears they are leaning towards the one lift plan. It seems clear the skier bridge idea is out. Not sure why there was so much talk of it in the first place.

          The case for doing a project like this is obvious. There are severe lines for the gondola and AMEX on busy days, and making the connection across the road would take some pressure off the main base. There is also a clear business case for it as making the proposed hotel effectively slopeside would increase the value of the property by millions, possibly more than it would cost to build the connection itself. And even if it doesn’t, the higher prices they could charge for being slopeside would eventually make up for it.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Tijsen September 11, 2019 / 10:47 am

          It will make the new lodge similar to the big lodge at Stowe (the one with the gondola going into it) which I know Stowe makes quite the money from it. Speaking of the crazy Amex lines, I wonder what Stratton will try to do next to fix the insane 30-45 min lines at ursa. The snowbowl has helped, however it has only improved it by 10-15 min. And I bet it will get worse soon once the new tamarack is built, because coming from top of tamarack there is no way to ski over to snowbowl.

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        • Tijsen September 12, 2019 / 10:54 am

          Nice! I didn’t realize that if you would align the lift that way it would go on duck soup, so not much clearing needed. However it think there is a chance that the top terminal will be where top terminal is currently, so the beginners using the lift won’t have to use grizzly access, which is always crazy, to access the green area that tamarack currently serves. I wonder with that bottom terminus If they will add a snow maker or two so they can make snow next to the parking lot, so people can access the lift with skis so they can continue all the way up.

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