Wenatchee Express – Mission Ridge, WA

This lift is the first bubble chair in Washington and came used from Brixen, Austria.
Both terminals are located under custom roof structures.
Doppelmayr detachable equipment.
Parking rails.
Bubble chair with custom red seats.
Tower 2.
All of the towers are conical in European style.
This is the third ropeway to follow the same alignment.
Combination tower.
The alignment is very unique with many steep and less steep sections interspersed.
View from tower 13.
Hold down tower 15.
Breakover towers near the summit.
Arriving at the drive terminal.
Chain-driven turnaround.
Indoor unloading area.
Side view of the top terminal.
Another look at the upper station building.
Towers 18 and 19.
View down from near the summit.
Three section tube tower.
Upper part of the lift line.
Steep section of the lift line.
Middle part of the line.
Combination assemblies.
View down.
Lower part of the line.
Looking up near the bottom terminal.
Side view of the return station.
Riding up the line.
Doppelmayr bubble quad chair with DS grip.
Towers 14, 15 and 16.
Looking back down.
View from the top.
West side of the top station.
The final four towers.
View into the top station.
Loading area.
Skytrac low voltage controls.
Another view of the line.
Doppelmayr tower head.
Return bullwheel. Note the loading carpet.
Side view of the bottom terminal.
Lift overview.
Return station equipment.
The first tower is integrated into the bottom station.
There is a large maintenance shop and parking structure connected to the bottom station.
Tower 3.
View up near the summit.
Bubble chairs along the line.
Looking down towards Wenatchee.

53 thoughts on “Wenatchee Express – Mission Ridge, WA

  1. Kaden K March 11, 2021 / 4:02 pm

    What a very unique lift for North America. The bubbles seem a bit faded but they don’t seem horribly out of shape, which is surprising for a lift built in 1987 or whatever it was.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. themav March 11, 2021 / 4:25 pm

    I enjoyed the progress updates from Mission Ridge a long the way. Great to see the final product of their hard work!


    • Butterside March 11, 2021 / 5:35 pm

      Agreed! I looked forward to the On the Way Up videos every week. Some of them even showed parts of the construction process that I had never seen before on other lift projects.


  3. A skier March 11, 2021 / 7:06 pm

    I’m still not clear in why Mission Ridge went with this lift. If they had bought a new Uni Gs or Omega detachable in 2005 it would last for way longer, and the price would be way more worth it. Plus, I can’t see this lift being around for more than 15 years before yet another lift is needed


    • Utah Powder Skier March 11, 2021 / 7:31 pm

      Mission Ridge invested in indoor parking, which should allow the bubbles to last a little longer. DS grips are compatible with tires, which wouldn’t be too hard to retrofit. It looks like they’re setting themselves up for keeping this lift for a good 20 years.


      • nvskier March 11, 2021 / 7:48 pm

        It’ll be interesting to check back in 2041 when this might be one of the oldest detachable chairs still operating.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Doppelmayr FTW March 11, 2021 / 10:03 pm

    Such a unique lift for the states, love the old style euro towers, I really wish we always did the conical design it’s much nicer looking IMO. I’m a bit concerned about those open style terminal enclosures, they could cause issues in big storms with snow accumulating in the terminal. Glad they invested in chair storage, hopefully they will get many years out of this awesome machine!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Charlie March 12, 2021 / 4:57 pm

    I’m a big fan of this design.


  6. pnwrider March 12, 2021 / 10:53 pm

    I just rode it today! For a lift as old as it is, it sure is luxurious! The lift is very aesthetically pleasing both from the European styled conical towers to the unique terminals and custom red seats. I hardly remember the predecessor Liberator Express since I rode it way back in 2013, but I feel like this lift is a little hastier. The seats are comfier and the ride is certainly smoother than the Liberator Express’s Poma TB-41 grips and Falcon chairs, Doppelmayr DS grips were very smooth for their time.

    Today had spring skiing conditions, but I imagine the bubbles must be totally awesome on a winter day with below freezing winds and precipitation in the form of either snow or rain. I rode the Liberator Express in 2013 during a storm and that was certainly uncomfortable without the bubbles! Also, it was super cool how the bubbles and safety bar automatically lifted in the top terminal. The loading carpet was also a nice touch!

    I wonder how long this lift will last. It’s not much younger than its predecessor, and it didn’t sit in storage either, so it has some very hefty operating hours on it. But despite its age, it’s a very nice lift! This definitely improves the experience further at Mission Ridge, and I certainly hope this lift lasts them a while! I wonder how much they saved by getting a luxurious old detachable lift, versus a new detachable that is low on frills.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Lisa March 13, 2021 / 12:13 pm

    Just rode this new lift last week. Great addition and wonderful skiing. Wondering about the carpet loading. Other carpet loaders I have been on don’t spit me out and leave me standing for the chair to pick up. On others, i am still on the carpet and moving as the chair picks me up. Anybody else have comments?


    • Chris March 13, 2021 / 12:18 pm

      As a rule of thumb loading carpets for fixed grip chairs are still moving while you load to reduce the speed differential. Loading carpets for detachable lifts just place you into the optimal loading location, but leave you stopped there.


    • Utah Powder Skier March 13, 2021 / 12:23 pm

      It all depends on whether the lift is fixed grip or detachable. Loading carpets on detachables are for reducing misloads by keeping people in the correct spot for loading. Loading carpets on fixed grip lifts are designed to allow the lift to run faster by having the riders moving while the chair is being loaded so the chair doesn’t hit the riders as hard.


  8. julestheshiba March 13, 2021 / 6:35 pm

    It is odd that this is the only hight speed chair in the US I can think of with buildings around the summit and return. I feel like there are a lot more lifts that should have been built this way for wind reasons, like Siberia and Headwall at Squaw Valley.


    • skitheeast March 13, 2021 / 8:16 pm

      Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but I think detachable chairlifts have their greatest issues on the line, not in stations, because they are on multiple wheels in the station and only balanced on a single grip on the line.


    • Myles Svec March 13, 2021 / 8:52 pm

      A few others are Summit Express at Mt Bachelor, Palmer and Magic Mile at Timberline, and Cascade Express at Mt Hood Meadows.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Donald Reif December 22, 2021 / 6:15 am

      Two of Vail’s high speed quads in Blue Sky Basin have their drive terminals in barns.

      The original Quicksilver Quad had enclosed terminals at both ends.

      The above-treeline lifts at Mt. Hood and Mt. Bachelor have enclosures due to exposure.


    • Joe Blake January 3, 2023 / 11:25 am

      Bottom of Strawberry at Snowbasin. Gondola, not chair, but a small lodge with a carport for the terminal.


  9. Matthew Toy March 13, 2021 / 8:43 pm

    I think it’s more of a European thing, but as already mentioned usually wind is going to be more of an issue on the line itself instead of the terminals. Perhaps these kinds of enclosures are simply for aesthetics/protection from the elements for the people loading/unloading.


    • Owen Mitchem March 13, 2021 / 9:48 pm

      On Mt hood, we have 3 high speed lifts with both stations in buildings. It’s my understanding that they were built this way to protect the more vulnerable station equipment from our frequent ice storms and to make them easier to dig out after heavy snowfall, Cascade Express will often get buried in 30’ snow drifts after strong storms.

      Here is an article on Meadows blog about access restoration on cascade last season:



      • Owen Mitchem March 13, 2021 / 9:53 pm

        Sorry for grammatical errors, I use mobile and don’t know how to edit my comments without emailing Peter and having him change it.


      • Donald Reif March 14, 2021 / 10:55 am

        With Cascade and Palmer, it’s definitely about the snow drift issue, and for Magic Mile, it’s the ice storm issue. (I’m kinda surprised Vista wasn’t built with an enclosed return station up top as it seems like the kind of lift that would need one)


    • Chris March 14, 2021 / 11:48 am

      Speaking of Austria until the late 80s pretty much all chairlift stations were enclosed in buildings, the light weight standardized enclosures only started showing up with CLD260 generation. For modern lifts I’ve only really seen the enclosed stations for very wind exposed location, or in few cases design reasons. They are still very common for gondolas and chondolas, though.


  10. Cameron March 16, 2021 / 1:03 pm

    Did Mission Ridge ever take down the alpha terminal at the top? It seemed as they never got rid of it after looking at a few On The Way Up episodes.


    • julestheshiba March 16, 2021 / 2:19 pm

      I wonder if it means they will use it elsewhere, in theory, they could have taken the chairs and drive and convert to a fixed-grip to replace one of their other lifts.


      • Owen Mitchem March 16, 2021 / 3:10 pm

        They sold the chairs.


      • Myles Svec March 16, 2021 / 3:11 pm

        Yea they could replace chair 1 with a fixed quad because it’s the main access lift and it services beginner terrain. Also, center pole doubles are not the most beginner friendly.


      • Vintage Chairlifts March 16, 2021 / 3:16 pm

        Perhaps to replace 1 or 4, then install the removed lift to the top of Windy Ridge? Seems like they might want a two-person lift for that area since the snow coverage up there will be variable.

        I was up at Mission Ridge last year and one of the locals was telling me that Mission had acquired a chairlift from Stevens Pass. It almost sounded like he was talking about the original Jupiter backside lift, but it sounds like that one was scrapped. So, I don’t know what he was talking about.


        • Will March 16, 2021 / 4:15 pm

          Old Brooks or Daisy?


        • Utah Powder Skier March 16, 2021 / 5:48 pm

          You know the supposed “3 sources” on that Jupiter was scrapped is just the same guy with different names. Check the hovercards, you can tell it’s all the same guy.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Utah Powder Skier March 16, 2021 / 5:50 pm

          Also, weren’t the chairs from Brooks and Daisy sold off?

          Liked by 1 person

        • Someone March 16, 2021 / 9:30 pm

          Yes, he’s talking about the original Jupiter from Stevens Pass. We’ll likely see it soon enough somewhere.


        • Ian Stern March 17, 2021 / 12:41 am

          Hello all! I’ve been a long-time lurker of LiftBlog, but just felt I’d chime in.

          I’d assume that based on their expansion plans that the used Jupiter lift would be Chair 6 or Chair 7. It shows here https://spark.adobe.com/page/ZfNYNE8O66O9P/ that the lift 6 is supposed in be a Fixed Quad and chair 7 a detachable quad.


        • Myles Svec March 31, 2021 / 1:45 pm

          I think the supposed three sources are Raj Thorp, David and Ski Washington. They have all said it has been scrapped.


        • Utah Powder Skier March 31, 2021 / 5:27 pm

          All of them said that it was scrapped the same reason. It so happens to be the same email for all three of those “users.” I guess that’s why hovercards exist.

          Liked by 2 people

      • julestheshiba March 17, 2021 / 4:00 pm

        I cannot understand why they did not keep the chairs and drive, I mean those older Poma alpha drives are essentially the same as they used to be. Correct me if I am wrong but the only issues with older Poma HSQs are the detachable gear, not the drive or chairs. Aspen did it with a couple of their older Poma HSQs and mission clearly does not have enough money for a new quad so why not just use the old parts?

        Liked by 1 person

        • pbropetech March 18, 2021 / 10:17 am

          There were no ‘issues’ with the detachable gear. I’ve mentioned this before, but those first-generation detaches were replaced simply because they were old and worn out.


        • julestheshiba March 18, 2021 / 11:35 am

          I mean that the issues with the wear were the detachable gear wears out, I mean you can see how many more moving parts detaches have. However, the thing is the parts that wear out is the detach gear not the alpha drive or the majority of the chairs.


  11. Donald Reif March 31, 2021 / 12:18 pm

    Some of the towers must’ve been built new, since this only had 14 towers when it was the Zinsbergbahn .


  12. theincsupport April 20, 2021 / 12:12 pm

    To someone that hasn’t been here, the bubbles may seem weird. But on a cold, windy day, like it is a lot of the time, the thing is awesome. I can totally see why they put in the bubbles.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ian December 7, 2021 / 11:56 am

    Weird to see the chain drive at return and tires at drive. Are there any other chain detaches still running? Maybe just outback at bachelor?


    • Tyler December 7, 2021 / 1:40 pm

      Vail still has a handful too as of 2021 – Game Creek, Born Free, Orient, and Beaver Creek’s Arrowhead. Eagle at Solitude in Utah too.


    • pbropetech December 7, 2021 / 2:56 pm

      Look again. The cadence chain is at the bottom and the conveyor is at the top. The only tires are in the accel/decel zones.


  14. Chris December 7, 2021 / 1:23 pm

    Plenty of chain driven ones of a similar vintage and design as this one are left in Austria.


  15. Jsohua December 22, 2021 / 12:05 am

    Why is the bottom tire driven and the top chain driven? Also about how much money it would have costed them to build a brand new Doppelmayr bubble lift?


    • Matthew Toy March 1, 2022 / 7:50 pm

      I’m wondering the same thing. Considering the cost of maintaining such an old lift and transporting all the parts from Austria, I can’t imagine a new UNI-G bubble quad would have cost much more in the long run.


    • pbropetech March 1, 2022 / 8:16 pm

      I repeat myself. There are chains at both ends. The cadence chain only has fingers at the specified spacing intervals, whereas the conveyor chain at the top has fingers at every link. There are no tires around the bottom contour.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Axewolfe17 March 1, 2022 / 9:55 pm

      The tires you are seeing are for the acceleration/deceleration before the grip attaches or detaches from the haul rope. As Pbropetech said there are no tires going around the contour, only in the deceleration and acceleration sections.


  16. Cascade Concrete March 2, 2022 / 9:01 am

    Anyone know the vertical and ride time on this guy? I’m curious how it compares to Rex at Crystal given that they’re the two oldest detachable lifts in the state.


    • Andy September 15, 2022 / 2:18 pm

      Chair 2 (1966 riblet Double ) was in roughly this same alignment from 1966 to 2005. Chair 2 was 6508 feet long and 1640 vertical. the 1966 Riblet double became the Liberator Express (2005-2020) which was replaced by the current Wenatchee Express in 2020. The numbers might be a bit off the 1966 numbers, but not by much.


  17. Jakub Lanovkar September 15, 2022 / 12:56 pm

    In Brixen, I remember this lift as a great, fast and comfortable ride also thanks to the seat heating. I hope it is still going well.


  18. Kevin January 3, 2023 / 11:00 am

    This lift has 118 chairs.


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