Breck’s new Leitner Poma 8-passenger gondola is one of the most unique lifts ever built. Intended as a means of keeping auto traffic to a minimum and to speed access from the main in-town Transportation Center to the Peak 7 and 8 base areas, the lift is an all-purpose people mover. What makes it unusual?
• It has two midstations; riders can enter/exit at all four stations.
• The two midstations are angled at 55 degrees and 70 degrees, so the liftline makes a 125-degree arc.
• Each midstation has two bullwheels to deflect the rope.
• The lift changes vertical orientation (that is, goes up and down) three times during its run. The high point, the Peak 7 base, is one of the midstations; the terminals are at Peak 8 and the Transportation Center.
•Because of the configuration, the rope enters three of the four stations in compression. Combined with the two turns, this creates some complicated rope tensions, says lift director Jon Mauch.
• And unlike most lifts, this one crosses a state highway along with 2,500 feet of residential streets and parking lots.
But it’s very user-friendly. None of the terminals are enclosed and the cabins themselves lack exterior ski or board racks, on the theory that it’s more efficient for riders to bring their gear inside. To make that easy, the cabins are taller than normal, with horizontal bars on the windows to provide a resting place for skis and boards. The line carries 123 cabins with another 26 to 27 involved in the terminals. Rated capacity is 2,900 an hour.
In keeping with Breck’s habit, the lift is AC powered, with a 1,000 hp motor—the largest AC drive in U.S. resorts. Length is 7,600 feet, with a vertical rise of just 400 feet. Cabins take about 10 minutes to make the trip in one direction despite the 1,000 fpm rope speed, due to the time spent in the two midstations. The only thing typical is the top-drive, bottom-tension setup.
Despite all its one-of-a-kind features, Mauch expects the lift will begin operation in January.
Sun Peaks, British Columbia
Sun Peaks is in the midst of a C$4 million improvement plan for 2006-07. The cornerstone is a new Doppelmayr CTEC fixed-grip quad, named Elevation, that provides faster access to gladed advanced and expert terrain on Tod Mountain as well as another route up the middle portion of the mountain. The new quad eliminates the need for advanced skiers and riders to descend to the base on a novice run so that they can return to the advanced runs at the top; this also reduces the mixing of expert and novice sliders at the base of the mountain. The lift has 1,030 vertical feet over a length of 3,500 feet, with an average pitch of nearly 30 percent, as well as a top drive DC 400 hp motor, with bottom tension. Capacity is 2,400 per hour.
In addition, Sun Peaks is adding new novice and intermediate terrain elsewhere on the complex, expanding its terrain parks, creating a “Kids Ranch” animated theme park for 3- to 12-year-olds, and adding a ski in-ski out 100-seat “umbrella bar” as part of its new East Village commercial development.
Paoli Peaks, Indiana
Peak Resorts, based in St. Louis, is spending $8 million to expand and upgrade facilities at its nine areas, with tubing hills going in at several locations. Paoli is a case in point. It has built an 800-foot tubing arena served by a 400-foot SunKid Wonder Carpet from Star Lifts. “We moved several hundred tons of earth this summer. It seems like we moved a mountain,” says GM Jody Ream, to reshape the hill, which will have up to 10 or 12 lanes. The runout area is relatively short, but also has a five-degree slope to it. Paoli will use deceleration mats to further slow riders.
The area carved out the tubing hill on separate acreage away from the ski resort but close to the snowmaking system, so it also constructed a new 2,400-square-foot base facility for tubing. The building houses a concession and lobby area for food and beverages, ticket windows, retail and rental shop (boots, gloves, pants, and jackets), small first-aid room, changing facility and restrooms. A small deck area allows visitors to sit outside and watch the action when weather is favorable.
To provide the snow, Paoli is using 10 SMI Super Polecats. And to ensure adequate water, the area increased its reservoir from a 500,000-gallon pond to a 3.5 million-gallon lake—a project as big as crafting the tubing hill itself. That helped bring Paoli’s share of Peak’s spending to about $500,000.
Windham Mountain, N.Y.
Windham has completed the largest single year of capital improvements in its 46 year history—$5 million worth. Most important, Windham is boosting capacity on its less-traveled East Peak, where a high-speed, detachable quad replaces a 1987 CTEC triple chair. The new lift cuts ride time from nearly 9 minutes to 4. It’s a Doppelmayr CTEC with 1,040 vertical, over a 3,550-foot length. Capacity is 2,400/hour. The lift has a 500 hp DC bottom drive with top tension. Early-season rain slowed the construction—in June, nearly 20 inches of rain fell, washing out the construction road several times—but by October the construction was ahead of schedule and headed for a load test on November 1.
The triple was relocated to replace a 1961 double. The lift reuses 13 of its 15 original towers, which were refurbished. The lift covers a greater distance at a faster rate.
A new 170-foot SunKid conveyor lift allows residents of the on-mountain, Enclave condominium community easier access to the base area, lodge and main lifts; it also expands the beginner terrain and allows for station-to-station lessons.
Three new trails from East Peak expand the resort’s acreage. For the longest trail, Windham blasted out 4,000 yards of ledge to get the pitch and fall line it wanted. All this new terrain sports state-of-the-art, automation-ready SMI Vikings.
Oh, and Windham has put new life into the base area: renovated a restaurant; installed a new state- of-the art barbeque on the deck; added fire pits; plus a Euro bungee area and a rock climbing wall . . .
The Canyons, Utah
For 2006-2007, The Canyons invested more than $10 million in improvements both on the mountain and within the resort.
A Doppelmayr CTEC fixed-grip quad named DreamCatcher will deliver skiers and boarders to 200+ acres of new, never skied before Canyons territory, “mostly upper intermediate to expert terrain,” said VP of marketing Todd Burnette. “We are doing some glading to open up some paths for some serious tree skiing.” The lift is 4,130 feet long with a 1,515-vertical-foot rise. The DC top-drive has 350 hp, with bottom tension. Capacity is 1,800 per hour; rope speed is 475 fpm. The lift was in and load-tested by October 10.
The Canyons is also transforming one of its main arteries, the Tombstone Express quad, into a high-speed six-pack (also from Doppelmayr CTEC) that increases uphill capacity by about 50 percent. The new lift uses the old towers, outfitted with new crossarms, and both top and bottom terminals are being rebuilt. The lift is 6,270 feet long, with a 1,734-foot vertical rise. It’s powered by a 1,000 hp top-drive DC motor; capacity is 3,200 per hour. Additionally, the Cabriolet lift from the base parking lot to the mountain will get an extra 12 cabins, raising capacity by 46 percent.
At the base, construction of the Silverado Lodge adds an additional 200 units to the village.
Beyond these efforts, The Canyons has added a new lift maintenance facility and automated the second of two snowmaking pumphouses, improving the system’s efficiency.