I don't know anything about Sugarloaf so can someone here humor me and tell me a) why they got rid of the Gondi b) why they didn't just put in a new one and c) what the vertical was on it. If it went the whole vertical of the mountain that would have been huge.
I am kind of surprised that any place would just get rid of an old Gondola and not replace it. I would think it would be a big prestige thing for any area to have a Gonola and they would always want to keep it. Are there other places that had Gondolas and got rid of them?
Good question. I think Sugarloaf had the same problem Killington did with their old Gondola. The top section was frequently closed due to wind hold. Unlike Killington, Sugarloaf did not provide another good option of reaching that terrain besides the quad off to the right side.
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Posted: Apr 01, 2005 - 1:15 PM GMT
First let me say that I sometimes can not remember what I had for breakfast let alone someting from about 10 years ago. With that said...in the early 90's the upper section of the gondola broke down. It was built as two sections that could be independently operated. Parts were taken from the lower half to repair the upper half since this was the only way to reach the summit at that time (before the Timberline quad). I think at this point, age just got the better of it. Money along with a high rate of wind-holds probably stomped on any plans for a replacement. The Timberline quad was build lower to the ground so the trees would help to shield it form wind. Incidently, Timberline was the old Whiffletree quad which was moved to Timberline when the HSQ was installed. If someone has a more complete story than mine, I would love to hear.
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Sugarloafs gondola was built in the mid sixties. Even when the old girl was new, it was not without problems. For some strange reason the designers of the gondola must have done the surveying on a sultry july day and nobody told them about wind. the towers on the upper stage were very tall and wind hold often got the better of the old gondi. The lower stage often suffered the same wind hold fate.
Even on a good day the old gondi's hourly capacity was frightfully low, especially when compared to newer options.
The manufacturer went out of business, leaving them holding the bag for spare parts.
A top to bottom gondola replacement would have been schweeeet, but dollar for dollar the Superquad can haul alot more bodies per hour to some great terrain. The harsh reality is that there are many days per season that the top of Sugarloaf mtn. is not fit for man nor beast.
Was there ever a restaurant or cafeteria ir bar in the summit terminal? I have a very hazy recollection from the early 80's that there was something there.
If I owned Sugarloaf and money was no object (lol) I'd replace the gondola and remake the summit terminal into some kind of restaurant. Imagine apre ski up there and the sunsets you'd see. The restaurant would be open for dinner and the gondi would take guests up and down.
Yes, there was a cafeteria in "The Octagon" at the top of the gondola, but I don't remember it very well. I only took the gondola on perhaps 10% of my visits to Sugarloaf, partly due to the wind holds, partly due to the long lines, and mainly because there was a cheaper ticket without the gondola, on which you could ski 80% of the mountain.
Chairlift.org has a table of data which says the vertical of the gondola was only 2440. We verified that on the topo map.
What people don't realize about Sugarloaf's summit is that lots of days it's like being on Mars up there. It's the highest thing between Washington and Katahdin, and all 3 summits are above treeline. Heard about Mt. W's summit weather and winds? That's the deal. Not conducive to restraunt-entrepeneurship. The summit station had a little cafeteria that only ran a few years, and they never even had johns. (Bullwinkle's 1/2 way down now addresses that.) The upper half of the gondi ride could get pretty wild. Clouds, wind, blowing snow, zero visibility, rockin' pretty good. The wind really rips over the last crest before the summit on the gondi line. There was never any serious interest in putting a new lift on the gondi line. Both the Superquad and Timberline chairs were placed primarily to be as wind-proof as possible, with good results.
The summit of the Loaf can be nasty. It can be exquisite. It's always a bit humbling. Nature looms large up there.
I was never a big fan of the Sugarloaf gondola, big lines when it ran and it was on wind hold a lot. Despite the problems with the old gondola Sugarloaf did plan to replace it with another gondola. The replacement Sugarloaf gondola was on order and the mountain went into recievership after a poor snow year. The gondola which was being built was purchased at a low price by AIG and installed at Stowe to replace their ageing gondola.
Posted: Apr 02, 2005 - 11:35 AM GMT
Edited: Apr 02, 2005 - 11:44 AM GMT
Much as I love the Loaf, the gondi was not the best lift arrangement, for previously mentioned reasons of wind holds, but also this: The lower mountain is pretty flat. Sure, it was a great way to get to the top (when it was open), but it was far from an ideal arrangement to serve the upper mountain. The problem is serving the upper mountain, dealing with the formidable weather issues and not ruining the snowfields.
I was up at the Loaf 3/31 (then at SR 4/1) and had a blast. Perfect spring day: Blue sky, bright sun, soft corn, and big wide boards. Yum!
The back side of Saddleback looks like it has potential, as does the mystery peak West of the Loaf in the picture. (I have to break out the map...) __________
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[quote]What people don't realize about Sugarloaf's summit is that lots of days it's like being on Mars up there. /quote] Although I agree that the view from the Loaf summit elicits awe at how vast the mountainous area of New England is, it isn't like being on Mars. If you want to get the feeling like you have been on Mars, go to Southern Utah. Futhermore if you want to get a feel for what it may be like in the Mountains of the Moon try Southern Oregon. If you're curious about what Hell might be like, try Eastern Oregon. Finally, if you want to get a feel for the north pole, you don't have to go futher than Southern Idaho. Back to the Loaf, your views there aren't any more awesome than those from the highest points of West Virginia except that your chances of seeing snows in Maine are much greater. It's a big country, get out and see it!!!
IT would be great if we had a new gondola, but under ASC ownership it will never happen, it would cost way to much and wouldnt be able to run often enough, the weather gets quite brutal at the top and 100mph winds are common. The Superquad or Spillway to Timberline isnt too bad, it kinda sucks when your skiing in King Pine and want to go to the top, but thats the way it goes. There was a plan a few years ago to run a high speed quad from the bottom of spillway to the top, but like a lot of sugarloaf's plans, it didnt happen.
It looks like the remains of the gondola, mid station and the summit building, will be torn down this summer.
The Spillway rumor is just that. The west side of the lift did have an incident this past year and it is old, but repairs were made. Lift permits are hard to come by in Maine and Sugarloaf was told that they couldn't install a lift for this coming year. (That too is a rumor 'cause SR was able to get a permit for the hybrid) Nonetheless, the speculation is that the gondola cabins from Big sky would be used for a future lift from the base of West Mountain to Bullwinkles and would allow for better access from that base area of condos (soon to be developed with a possible hotel and lodge) and would allow for night time dinning without having to take a snowcat, which is how they currently do it. The cabins are currently resting in bushes, so it's unlikely a lift is in the very near future, but certainly on the drawing board.
As for some of the earlier posts, the summit lodge had a limited cafeteria for a while and while it didn't have plumbing, it did have restrooms, not unlike indoor outhouses that went into tanks. The second floor of the lodge has a huge fire place with 360 degree views and a huge topo map in the center.
The vertical drop of the lift is a little over 2400 as it went from the current base to about 50 feet below the true summit. You have alway had to hike to reach the backside snowfields. The full vertical of the 2860 extend below the base area to the bottom of the Snubber chair.
No top-to-bottom lift was installed for the exact reasons give - wind. To build a lift to replace it was not in the budget of the mountain, especially when it had been having financial problems. The only viable lifts for that amount of win would be on the bi-cable variety and that's just not a financial option at SL.
Although the Timberline Chair was installed to reach the summit, the gondola was not the only lift to achieve this. There was a t-bar that follow the same route as the Timberline chair, but closed in the 80's after multiple lightning strikes. It had been installed to reach the summit on windy days and may have been built in preparation to hold a World Cup downhill. That being said, it served that purpose well when Sugarloaf was called upon for just that in 71'.
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I heard that Spillway lift is no longer safe and has to be taken out by the start of next year.
While I am certainly not a sugarloaf expert...that doesn't make sense to me. From my understanding, they allowed it to start running again after whatever the incident was, therefore it is unlikely that it is unsafe, and highly unlikely that it would be unsafe enough to need to be torn down.