Wayback – Keystone, CO

Doppelmayr fixed drive station and unload area.
Top bullwheel and motor room.
Looking up the lift line.
Bottom station with hydraulic tensioning.
Station overview.
Return bullwheel and lift line.
Arriving at the top.
Upper lift line.
Middle part of the line.
Lower lift line.

18 thoughts on “Wayback – Keystone, CO

  1. Jonathan January 19, 2019 / 6:45 pm

    I was riding this lift with a local and they call this lift the WaySlow Lift!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Donald M. Reif February 22, 2019 / 8:51 am

      Keystone’s master plans call for Wayback to be upgraded to a high speed quad. I envision a Doppelmayr high speed quad with clockwise rotation and 90 degree loading.


      • Collin Parsons October 28, 2019 / 9:21 pm

        I think they should’ve used the terminals from Montezuma to upgrade this to a detachable instead of scrapping them.


        • skitheeast October 28, 2019 / 9:34 pm

          Montezuma was pretty old and had a lot of hours. They are better off getting a completely new lift. This now also gives them the opportunity to potentially make the lift a six-pack, which is needed for the crowds during certain hours of the day.


        • Donald Reif October 28, 2019 / 10:41 pm

          “This now also gives them the opportunity to potentially make the lift a six-pack, which is needed for the crowds during certain hours of the day.”

          Wayback doesn’t need a six pack. The lift only has two trails that can be lapped from it, and it primarily functions as the egress lift from the Outback, which means its traffic numbers are not the same as those of the Ruby Express lift.

          What Collin was getting at was that, seeing how Big Sky was able to reuse Ramcharger 4’s equipment to upgrade Shedhorn last year, and it’s a lift of the same vintage as the old Montezuma Express, it would’ve been practical for Keystone to have reused the old Montezuma Express lift’s UNI terminals to upgrade Wayback. They wouldn’t even have had to replace any towers on it. I’m pretty sure that’s still true even if they have to use Doppelmayr UNI-G terminals now, since Doppelmayr did a FGQ to HSQ conversion of that nature for the Crystal Express at Diamond Peak, reusing the old towers of a FGQ.


        • skitheeast October 28, 2019 / 11:41 pm

          I have only skied Keystone on relatively busy days, but still, Wayback always had decent lines on the way back from Outback (which itself often has very high wait times). A high-speed quad will have the same capacity as the current lift, so the wait times will not decrease. If there is concern about having its own pod, Keystone can always cut another couple trails, as there is plenty of space and the southern exposure should not be a concern at its very high elevation.

          I understand the Ramcharger comparison, but this is a different situation. Ramcharger had lower hours than Montezuma. While I do not know the exact condition of the drive equipment, I do know they removed chairs from the lift in its final year of operation (and not because of a lack of lift demand), which is not a good sign. Furthermore, a lot of Montezuma’s parts were also needed for spares/replacements for Outpost and Peru. While I agree the Wayback towers could probably have been reused, the remaining bits of the cannibalized Montezuma would likely not have been enough to make a good portion of the lift. At a certain point, it makes more sense for similarity and maintenance to just purchase new equipment minus the towers.


        • Donald Reif October 29, 2019 / 12:51 pm

          ” If there is concern about having its own pod, Keystone can always cut another couple trails, as there is plenty of space and the southern exposure should not be a concern at its very high elevation.”

          I can tell you that the trails that go from the summit of Dercum Mountain down to Labonte’s at the bottom of North Peak get an awful lot of exposure. Mozart’s the only blue, so it’s the one of those three that gets the heaviest snowmaking concentration. It’s for that same reason that there are only the two blue runs down the back side of North Peak to reach the Outback, which are Spillway and Anticipation, and they both take a southeasterly route that necessitates traveling a lengthy runout to reach the Outback Express.

          I should note that in Keystone’s master plan from ten years ago, they proposed upgrading Wayback to a high speed quad. (https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3828357.pdf, page 19) On the same page where they list that proposal, they also list the proposal of adding additional capacity to the Outback Express lift, a capacity upgrade that was ultimately carried out in 2014 when they added 24 chairs to the lift, chairs taken off the Dercum Mountain UNI high speed quads. Of course, it should be noted that at the time, Keystone had plans for adding chairlifts to the bowls, with a high speed quad servicing Bergman Bowl (and Erickson Bowl being lapped via the “Bergman Express” and upgraded Wayback) and new triple chairlifts servicing The Windows glades and the Independence Bowl, which would’ve meant more traffic on Wayback.

          (A high speed quad makes more sense than a six pack there too because of space limitations at the top, as you can see in my videos of Wayback and the Santiago Express lifts)


        • Jonathan October 29, 2019 / 8:16 pm

          I have suggested this before, I think a 6 chair should replace Outback Express and then equipment from Outback should be moved to replace Wayback Lift. The Outback Express would undergo the “Shedhorn Upgrade” when it is moved. The Outback 6 Chair would have a capacity of 3,000/hour and the Wayback Express would have a capacity of 2,600/hour. The extra chairs from the current Outback Express (if there are any) would be moved to help upgrade capacity on the Peru Express. I don’t think Peru Lift has much time left though. Maybe this upgrade could happen summer 2020?


        • Donald Reif October 29, 2019 / 10:25 pm

          The Outback Express doesn’t get enough traffic to warrant a high speed six pack. Besides, it also got a capacity upgrade five years ago using chairs taken off the Peru Express and the original Montezuma Express lift.

          And you don’t want a high speed quad being the only means of egress from a pod serviced by a high speed six pack.


  2. Donald Reif September 19, 2019 / 10:45 am


  3. Ryan December 17, 2019 / 12:48 am

    Use this to update A51 and Discovery, and replace this with a HSQ


  4. Donald Reif January 13, 2020 / 9:56 am

    The reason this lift only feels so slow is because this is the sole fixed grip lift in Keystone’s mainline lift fleet, which is otherwise 100% detachable lifts. Argentine is only used as a backup for the Peru Express lift, A-51 is only used for lapping the terrain park, while Checkerboard and Ranger are solely used as learning hill chairlifts.


  5. Resolve.Action.Love (@Snowman55403) February 5, 2021 / 5:16 pm

    I’d have mixed feelings about an HSQ on the Wayback line. One of my (perhaps odd) little faves is to lap Spillway when there’s fresh snow. It stays in better shape than almost any low-angle blue in the whole resort because it’s relatively hard to access – a bit of a kicking trip over from Santiago. A lot of people unfamiliar with Keystone will naturally exit Santiago and travel skier’s left around to Anticipation to access the Outback lift. At least an HSQ would likely have very similar skiers per hour, so that the top unload area doesn’t get too crowded.
    Overall it seems the Wayback lift speed is probably a plus – it is sufficient to clear the area at lunch and end of the day, but not really a pod-focused lift. I hope the delayed HSQ for Bergman gets back in the queue. That would, I think, relieve pressure on Outback & Wayback.


  6. Joshua Redman January 8, 2022 / 6:01 pm

    This lift certainly needs a HSQ upgrade. The ride is slow and it is very hard to lap with Anticipation or Spillway. Also those are the only runs it laps.


    • Donald Reif January 8, 2022 / 6:12 pm

      Those runs are primarily used for traveling to the Outback Express. So a high speed quad isn’t really worth it.


      • Robert Ivaniszyn II June 13, 2022 / 8:06 am

        With the new Bergman lift though, there will be three tree black diamonds off the top of the Bergman lift that will require a ride of Wayback to lap. So either those three new trails will get VERY little use, or Wayback/Outback will end up jammed with people either using those trails as a more fun way to get to the Outback (think people hitting Game Creek Bowl at Vail before dropping into the back bowls), or people trying to lap those needing to use Wayback just to get back to the Bergman lift

        In the past I’d have agreed, the Wayback is slow and sucks, but was sufficient. Now, with the new lift in Bergman, I think it is going to need an upgrade quickly.


  7. nedakal February 13, 2022 / 10:31 pm

    Keystone was leaving around every 5th chair empty today. Does anyone know why they were doing that?


    • Tyler February 14, 2022 / 8:46 am

      They’ve been doing that all season. They had orange straps to rope off every 5th chair (chair numbers with multiples of 5). I wonder if it’s a summer NDT problem? Operators are just telling people to let those chairs go by.


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