Vail Resorts New Lifts Possibilities

After the open paragraphs I only included the northeast from the long Liftblog.com article. Opening comments happened to be on the northeast including the Sunapee West Bowl omission.

How Many Lifts Could Vail Resorts Announce Next Month?
November 1, 2018 Peter Landsman

With four recent additions, Vail Resorts Inc. now operates just over 10 percent of American and Canadian lifts, more than any other company. Vail prides itself on investing heavily in its mountains and the average lift at an Epic resort is three years newer than the rest of the industry. The company’s lifts now number 305 in the United States, Canada and Australia with an average age of 24.6 years. If we assume the average lift lasts 35 years, Vail would now need to replace an average of about nine lifts per year just to turn over its fleet.

Resort Number of Lifts Average Age Dominant Manufacturer
2 Beaver Creek 16 16.5 Doppelmayr 1
3 Northstar 14 16.9 Doppelmayr 0
4 Vail 25 17.3 Leitner-Poma 2
5 Mt. Brighton 5 17.6 Doppelmayr 0
6 Park City 37 17.8 Doppelmayr 1
7 Stowe 10 19.8 Leitner-Poma 1
8 Whistler Blackcomb 28 20.1 Doppelmayr 2
9 Mt. Sunapee 5 21.2 Leitner-Poma 1
10 Okemo 14 22.2 Leitner-Poma 1
11 Breckenridge 23 22.7 Leitner-Poma 1
12 Heavenly 20 23.6 Doppelmayr 1
13 Keystone 13 25 Doppelmayr 0
14 Crested Butte 12 25.6 Leitner-Poma 0
15 Wilmot Mountain 7 28 Doppelmayr 0
16 Kirkwood 11 31.9 Lift Engineering 0
17 Stevens Pass 9 33.8 Riblet 0
18 Perisher 38 35 Doppelmayr 1
19 Afton Alps 18 44.9 Hall


Northeast
With the Vail Resorts corporate website launching last month and EpicMix about to go live, Stowe is now fully integrated into its parent company. The previous owner, insurance giant AIG, bought a lot of lifts so there is not a whole lot that Vail needs to do right away. The exception is the Mansfield Lodge portal, where skiers sometimes must choose between waiting in a long line for FourRunner or riding Lookout, a 40 year old machine with a 12 minute ride. The newer Mountain triple is getting a new haul rope as we speak so I think it will stick around awhile. That leaves Vail with two options: replace a seven year old high speed quad with the six pack it should have been or simply add a second detachable to replace Lookout.
The Lookout double is a classic New England lift but may not survive the Vail takeover for long.
Okemo is among the recent Epic additions and is in awesome shape lift wise. Vail may do something about the dueling fixed-grip quads in the Clocktower base area. I don’t mind them and neither did the Muellers but Vail might prefer a detachable. The Black Ridge and Green Ridge triples will probably also be on Vail’s hit list eventually. The South Face Village at Okemo developer could add the proposed second quad chair near the Sunshine lift in 2019.
Vail may want a single, more modern lift out of the main Okemo base area.
Vail acquired Mt. Sunapee’s lease in the middle of a three phase lift upgrade. Phase one was the replacement of the Sunbowl quad with a detachable one in 2014. Triple Peaks planned to use that lift to replace the North Peak triple, which was supposed to become a new lift out of Sunbowl. Whistler Blackcomb taught us Vail is not afraid to throw a plan out the window so we will have to wait and see what’s in store for Sunapee.
As of a few weeks ago, Mt. Sunapee still had this fixed grip quad in storage for future use.

1. PETER LANDSMAN November 1, 2018 / 7:19 am
Comment sent to me from Josh via email:
Stowe has infrastructure issues beyond liftlines. Access is on a dead end, and weekend traffic and parking is horrendous. As Vail aquired Stowe, many wondered if funds would go to the Toll House area to create additional parking and increase traffic on significantly underused terrain.
One option for Stowe would be to replace FourRunner with a bubble six (it gets windy at the top, and maybe Oakley could sponsor Prizm Rose bubble, kidding). Then move the newer quad to Toll House. It increases beginner and intermediate access and creates a better parking setup for day guest.
For Okemo A and B Quads seem fine I agree. But Okemo was expanding into loft served biking with those lifts. A HSQ would provide a splash for summer operations.
Black and Green is the area ripe for upgrade. Lapping Sunburst requires a long run out through the beginner areas of A and B Quad, which get chewed up even on midweeks. It could create a more balanced pod and traffic pattern between sunburst and Solitude.
Sunapee is where you seem to have left off the biggest item. Muellers planned a West Bowl expansion. Frontside Sunapee Express becomes a six pack, and the old quad gets refurbished and moved into a whole new zone of massive expansion.
o CARLETON November 1, 2018 / 12:55 pm
I’ve often thought that Stowe’s Toll House could use a detachable, to make that terrain more useful, as currently it’s a horrendously slow, long, double chair. I remember seeing detachable double chair lifts in Europe (years ago), and that would probably do (from a skier volume perspective) – but I doubt that they would put in anything less than a quad. Conveyor loading fixed grip wouldn’t speed it up enough to be worth it.
I have mixed feelings about a six pack to the top of Sunapee – it could use it, no doubt, to shorten the line, but the initial ski options off the summit chair are limited, making the top of the mountain like bumper cars on a busy day as it is. The new Cataract chair may help a little bit, as you will no longer need to go back up to the summit to get to the base area from the Sunbowl. They really need the West Bowl expansion in order to spread the crowd out a bit more.
2. JON G. November 1, 2018 / 7:50 am
For Sunapee in my opinion I’m thinking in the immediate future they’ll probably go ahead with the North Peak switch over to the old Sun Bowl Quad. Though knowing that they don’t really like old lifts that could also be turned into something new. I think a detachable would be overkill for that spot as the trails are already pretty much at capacity on North Peak. A fixed grip would do much better to spread the crowds and the current 7 minute ride isn’t bad. Also with the advent of adding the Cataract Triple from the bottom of the Sun Bowl to the top of North Peak, you’re already adding more people to that terrain.
West Bowl will most likely happen, but it’s going to continue to be a long and drawn out process. It’s already taken a good 10 years to get where we are with the current round of approvals, but the state and the local community are very sensitive to how this development will end up playing out. Vail may have deep pockets, but patience is what’s going to make this expansion happen as the state is in no hurry to rush approvals for big projects in state parks. I hope I get proven wrong on this though!
As for some possible surprises….I’m wondering if the Spruce triple will get replaced. That thing is well over 30 years old and was a franken-lift to begin with. Also one thing to note, the Duckling Double is no longer on the map or snow report….

Comments

  • Liftblog posts:
    Jack
    November 1, 2018 / 11:45 am
    At Stowe, I would upgrade FourRunner to a six, and move the current lift to where lookout double is. Reuse the tower tubes from current fourrunner, just put new crossarms. New lookout quad would get new towers and crossarms but reuse the terminals from fourrunner.

    reaperskier
    November 1, 2018 / 4:46 pm
    If I were in vails position, I would do the following to their eastern resorts:
    OKEMO
    – 8 Passenger Chairlift or Tandem detachable quad lift to replace the A & B Quads
    – Installing the second quad at sunshine village
    – Black Ridge fixed grip quad
    – Beginner triple at jackson gore (either a new LP or relocated black ridge triple)
    – South Face Express Bubble upgrade
    MT SUNAPEE
    – North Peak Quad (using relocated sunbowl quad)
    – Cataract Triple (using relocated north peak triple)
    – Replace Sunapee Express with a 6 person gondola
    – Clipper ship fixed grip 6 pack
    – West Bowl Express Quad
    – Spruce Quad
    STOWE
    – Toll House detachable quad
    – Toll House base area beginner double (named town house and would reuse the existing tollhouse double)
  • TomWhite said:

    Liftblog posts:
    reaperskier
    November 1, 2018 / 4:46 pm
    If I were in vails position, I would do the following to their eastern resorts:
    OKEMO
    – 8 Passenger Chairlift or Tandem detachable quad lift to replace the A & B Quads
    – Installing the second quad at sunshine village
    – Black Ridge fixed grip quad
    – Beginner triple at jackson gore (either a new LP or relocated black ridge triple)
    – South Face Express Bubble upgrade
    MT SUNAPEE
    – North Peak Quad (using relocated sunbowl quad)
    – Cataract Triple (using relocated north peak triple)
    – Replace Sunapee Express with a 6 person gondola
    – Clipper ship fixed grip 6 pack
    – West Bowl Express Quad
    – Spruce Quad
    STOWE
    – Toll House detachable quad
    – Toll House base area beginner double (named town house and would reuse the existing tollhouse double)

    This is just silly :D
    - Sam
  • Liftblog on Okemo:
    Collin Parsons
    November 3, 2018 / 6:49 pm
    The gondola is just my idea. I don’t know if it will actually be considered or not. It would several issues. One is access out of Jackson Gore Base. The Jackson Gore Expansion was built in two phases. The first phase opened in 2002 and was just the upper terrain served by a Poma high speed quad called Jackson Gore Express. In 2015, this lift was bubblized and is now called the Quantum Four. The massive base area complex was still under construction and that opened a year later in 2003. Access out of the base is provided by a Leitner-Poma high speed quad called Coleman Brook Express. This lift is the only out of base lift and has sufficient capacity. The issue is that the layout of the lifts requires that both Coleman Brook and Quantum are operational to be able to get anywhere else on the mountain. When either one of them are down for whatever reason, they have to shuttle bus everyone out. They have an agreement with the Winterplace Condos HOA to drop people off on their lodging road at the top of Base Quad A and B to speed the process up somewhat. A second out of base lift would greatly reduce the number of days the shuttle bus operation is needed as well as providing better access to the other side of the resort.
    The other issue this would mitigate is congestion at the Sunburst 6 and several major choke points in the trail layout. The Green Ridge Triple is a long cold ride and is often bypassed by customers who lap back to Sunburst. The trails near Green Ridge all funnel down to a single runout on Lower Arrow and then they must go through the South Ridge terrain which is supposed to be a beginner area. With a high speed lift on Green Ridge, some people would just lap that and not all try to go to Sunburst. A capacity of 2000/hr on the gondola would be sufficient as Green Ridge rarely has a line and very few people come out of Jackson Gore Base except during the morning rush and right after lunch, so there would be plenty of empty seats for people to fill at mid. Other times the Coleman Brook Express sends up lots of empty chairs.
    This would be quite an expensive option so I’m not sure the practicality of it, and crossing over the homes in Solitude Village might also be an issue. Either way, I’m sure Vail will carefully consider all their options for investing in Okemo and all their other resorts.
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