URSA Express – Stratton, VT

This Stealth II was the first CTEC detachable at Stratton.
Leaving the bottom station.
Garaventa chair and grip with footrests removed.
The top drive terminal with a short maintenance rail.
Stealth terminal.
View down the line.
Top terminal and the final tower.
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24 thoughts on “URSA Express – Stratton, VT

  1. Collin Parsons January 28, 2019 / 4:08 pm

    This lift most definitely does not run at the design speed of 1100 feet per minute. More like 700-800. This kills the capacity and causes long wait times on weekends.

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    • skitheeast January 30, 2019 / 6:11 pm

      Although true, it used to run faster two years ago before the motor gave out. They had to use a replacement motor which could not spin the lift as fast (and was quite noisy as well) the remainder of last season. I heard they bought a new motor over the summer but that they are running it slower to preserve it as the mountain was quite a disaster when the motor took the lift out on a peak day.

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      • Collin Parsons January 30, 2019 / 7:43 pm

        Instead of slowing the lift to reduce the frequency of breakdowns, I want to see them adopt a proper maintenance schedule that will prevent future breakdowns from happening and allow it to run at full speed when necessary.

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  2. Collin Parsons March 2, 2019 / 8:34 pm

    Well today they finally ran this at a decent speed. I timed it at 925 feet per minute. Kept the line moving when it got busy.

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  3. skitheeast July 29, 2019 / 1:37 pm

    This lift is prone to get the worst lines I have ever seen at any ski resort. The new Snow Bowl has done a great deal in shortening lines on most days, but windy days when the Gondola, Shooting Star, or Snow Bowl go down or holiday weekends create an absolute nightmare. I have seen the lift line go all the way up the final drop of Black Bear. This lift is only 20 years old, but it has had motor issues in the past and if any lift could use the capacity of an eight pack, this is the one. However, there have not been any talks about replacing this lift.

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    • Sam Altavilla July 29, 2019 / 3:51 pm

      I see your point. This lift is the main mid-mountain to summit lift. Although Snow Bowl provides access to the summit from the mid-mountain, it certainly isn’t the logical way to go. If anyone comes off of say Upper Tamarack, for example, they’re most likely going to ski to the closest lift which in that case is URSA. This causes massive lines on busy days since many of the upper mountain trails (Polar Bear, Frank’s, Upper Tamarack, etc.) end somewhere near the bottom of URSA.
      The motor issues seemed to be fixed, however, the capacity can be greatly improved. They still refuse to run the lift over 950 FPM from what I’ve observed. It will be interesting to see if Alterra will put any money towards a motor or gearbox upgrade.
      Despite the fact that it needs better capacity, an eight pack would not be a logical investment. The replacement that makes the most sense to me is to swap URSA for Haystack’s Barnstormer lift since it will now be up for sale.
      That’s my two cents.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Collin Parsons July 29, 2019 / 5:50 pm

      Barnstormer has less capacity than this lift. No way they’d use that to replace it. I do think an 8 pack would work well here, but I only think a replacement is needed if they can’t operate this lift reliably at full speed to achieve the highest possible capacity.

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      • Sam Altavilla September 9, 2019 / 10:39 am

        If Alterra would cough up the money to run Ursa and the gondola faster, everything would work out nicely.

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      • Collin Parsons September 9, 2019 / 12:54 pm

        I don’t think Alterra controls the lift speeds at any resort, but URSA needs to be run at least 900 feet per minute every day. The gondola is often requires to run slowly because of wind. I’ve seen it run over 900 on non-windy days.

        Liked by 1 person

        • xlr8r September 9, 2019 / 6:32 pm

          This lift does get long lines, but Stratton’s summit cannot handle any more people. Unlikely any lift gets a capacity upgrade as the summit is already served by an 8 passenger gondola, 2 six packs and now the snowbowl quad. Stratton is known for its trails getting skied off very fast and overcrowding on Black Bear and Janeway Junction trails. The mountain is overcrowded on weekends, but that is not just a lift capacity issue, but a trail capacity issue as well.

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        • Collin Parsons September 9, 2019 / 7:02 pm

          Expansion is the most effective solution to trail crowding. The three newest trails in the lower Sun Bowl (Rising Star, Rick’s Catch 22, and Sun Beam) still don’t have snowmaking. If snowmaking is added and the trails are open more, more people might ski that lift and not go to the summit. For cutting new trails, the Kidderbrook area would be the best spot to do it. There is room for at least 2 or 3 on the opposite side of the former lift. Then a high speed lift could be built there. I think that is many years off. Tamarack is the top priority for now.

          Liked by 1 person

        • skitheeast September 10, 2019 / 11:13 am

          They don’t need to prioritize giving the three newest Sun Bowl trails snowmaking because Sunriser Supertrail is so wide that it doesn’t get skied off like Janeway/Black Bear do and Lower Downeaster acts as a nice secondary trail. There is plenty of room for a trail between Free Fall and Bear Down, but Kidderbrook Ravine is one of my favorite glades and I would hate to see it go. The only terrain expansion that would make a significant dent in spreading people out would be to install a new lift from where the old Kidderbrook quad started up to the Stratton Fire Tower, opening an entire new pod with a variety of natural slopes. However, this would be expensive and is not even on Stratton’s radar as far as I know so it’s just a dream.

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        • Collin Parsons September 10, 2019 / 2:51 pm

          If the trails are open regularly, people will ski them, and more people will come to that side of the mountain. A lift from the bottom of Kidderbrook would be about 7000 feet long and 1600 vertical. Would be a nice expansion, but I think it would just be too expensive and hard to permit.

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  4. Sam Altavilla September 9, 2019 / 10:41 am

    Note that none of the CTEC six packs here at Stratton have slow/med/fast buttons on any of the control panels. There is a maintained push/pull slow button with a momentary fast button next to it. If anyone knows why this is, let me know. Most CTEC detaches I have seen have the three buttons (yellow for slow, blue for medium, black for fast).

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    • Sam Altavilla September 9, 2019 / 10:43 am

      Also strange that some of the sixes have stop buttons that just read ‘Stop’, whereas others read ‘Stop LNS1’ to identify which stop button it is.

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  5. Tijsen September 11, 2019 / 11:22 am

    I wonder what Stratton is going to do about the insane lines on this lift. Especially with a new tamarack detachable coming in soon, even more people will be ending up at this lift. They are either going to have to somehow get a second lift out of that bowl and end it somewhere on the mountain where the people unloading it can access part of black bear, and Shooting star, or they are going to have to boost the capacity of the lift by a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Collin Parsons September 11, 2019 / 1:03 pm

      They need to run this lift at the full speed of 1100 fpm. If it is run slower for mechanical problems, they need to fix them. If it’s because of loading efficiency, they should add a loading carpet to make loading at a shorter interval easier. There should be no consideration for a second lift until this one is operating at it’s full speed and capacity and still can’t handle the crowds.

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      • Tijsen September 11, 2019 / 6:38 pm

        They have been doing work on Ursa over the summer. How ever I do not think 3600 pph is enough when about a third of amex riders go down to that lift, and when this new lift even more people will use it, and all the trails on the main side funnel into Ursa (excluding snnowbowl area and upper sun bowl.) If they do not increase the capacity out of that area they will need to do some clearing so that people skiing the trails that end up at bottom of franks (lower grizz and upper tamarack) can ski to snowbowl.

        Liked by 1 person

        • skitheeast September 12, 2019 / 12:16 am

          The mountain’s topography will prevent any skiable path from mid-mountain to Snow Bowl. They do want more Amex skiers who plan to go to the summit to take Snow Bowl, but there is a bit of a learning curve as everyone is so used to heading to URSA.

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      • Collin Parsons September 11, 2019 / 7:05 pm

        I don’t think you’ll ever be able to get to Snow Bowl from the mid mountain lodge. What could be done is put up a sign to encourage more people coming from AMEX to take Snow Bowl to the summit instead of URSA. I don’t think you’ll ever see another lift on the North American or Grizzly routes.

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        • Tijsen September 11, 2019 / 7:23 pm

          Youre right. Maybe they should get rid of the ursa sign on top of Amex all together. On the point you said about no lift on North American, I have heard that sms is considering to get a t-bar on there.

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        • Sam Altavilla September 12, 2019 / 7:47 am

          They could simply put a large sign that says ‘To Summit’ pointing right off of the top of Amex. I feel like most people would follow that.

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