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January 2007

Construction Site :: January 2007

See what resorts were up to this past building season.

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Big White, B.C.
The new Snow Ghost Express, a state-of-the-art C$7 million (US$6.1 million) Leitner-Poma six-pack chairlift, is the longest six-passenger chair in Canada at 6,190 feet. Vertical rise is 1,479. Initial capacity is 2,200 per hour, with a design capacity of 2,600. It has a bottom-drive 700 hp AC drive, a 1,050 hp backup diesel, and a 130 hp tertiary evacuation drive. Tensioning system for the Leitner-Poma Fat Boy terminals is similar to that at Blue Mountain, described here also.

In addition to the Snow Ghost Express, Big White has upgraded several runs—including the beginner ski and snowboard area, where it also installed a 400-foot Magic Carpet—and completed work on a C$4 million (US$3.5 million), 70 million-gallon reservoir that will fulfill the resort’s needs well into the future.

Whistler Blackcomb’s ambitious new Symphony Express detachable quad, a C$9.2 million (US$8 million) project, accesses more than 1,000 acres of spectacular high Alpine terrain, including a wide open upper bowl area, a new high-intermediate gladed area, and two new conventionally cut trails for low intermediates. The vast stretch of terrain was previously hike-to only.

The Doppelmayr CTEC lift runs 6,929 feet in length, with a vertical rise of 1,670 feet, and tops out at an elevation of 6,673 feet, one of the higher points on Whistler. It’s a top-drive installation with 900 hp DC motor, 500 hp diesel backup and a 173 hp hydrostatic tertiary drive. Initial capacity is 2,400, with a design capacity of 2,800 (at very short 5.25-second intervals).

Construction began in late May, with six feet of snow still on the ground. Whistler moved heavy excavating equipment over the snow to dig lift tower footings, and thus eliminated road building in the ecologically sensitive alpine zone. Towers were installed by late September; construction of the top and bottom stations ended in November. Opening date was set for December 16.

As part of its wide-ranging preparations for the 2010 Olympics, Whistler Blackcomb also performed a variety of trail work and other improvements across both areas this summer; including the Symphony Express, the total tab came to C$22 million (US$19.2 million).

And that’s just a piece of the investment flowing into Whistler prior to the Olympics. The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the Games (VANOC) is spending approximately $17.6 million on snowmaking infrastructure, a huge legacy for the resort once the Games are over. Whistler Blackcomb is leveraging this to double the snowmaking production capabilities on the mountains by 2010; as part of this effort, the resort has spent C$5 million (US$4.4 million) on snowmaking improvements over the past three years.

King Pine, New Hampshire
Heading into the season with more than $1 million in capital improvements, this family-oriented area has added a triple chair, a new black-diamond trail beneath it, and upgraded the newly-named Twisted Pine Terrain Park.

The new lift is a Doppelmayr-CTEC triple that replaces an old Hall double. It increases the hourly capacity by about 600, to 1,800. Most of the new lift is, in fact, new: the terminals, towers, cable, and all parts are new, except for the chairs, which King Pine purchased (along with the rest of a lift) from nearby King Ridge several years ago. The lift has a top-drive DC Sabina drive.

At slope level, King Pine widened the old lift line by nearly 50 yards and regraded some ledges near the top, where the slope averages about 33 percent. The lift and trail expansion improves the experience for advanced skiers and riders.

Blue Mountain is installing a $3.5 million Leitner-Poma six-pack to replace a 1985 Hall double. The new Challenge Express is the first six-pack in the Poconos and increases hourly capacity from the base area by nearly 2,000 riders per hour. The new capacity is much needed: with the greatest vertical in Pennsylvania (1,082 feet), Blue attracts 300,000 visits annually, and lift lines on busy days were longer than management wanted.

Line length is 4,300 feet, with a vertical rise of 1,050. It’s powered by a 600 hp DC bottom drive, with Poma’s Fat Boy 27-wheel terminal (active bottom tensioning, passive top tension). The new six parallels a high-speed quad, and the two combined have the capacity to carry 5,400 riders per hour (about 3,000 for the new six-pack, and 2,400 for the quad).

For the ride down, Blue widened the upper portion of Sidewinder Park and installed new snowmaking there. The area has also expanded the base lodge by 2,400 square feet, and enlarged the parking lot. In all, the mountain spent $5 million on upgrades this past year, and it’s just getting started: Blue is considering a major $20- to $30-million development of the base area which could begin in a few years.

Ski Big Bear, Pennsylvania
A fire at this semi-private ski area, owned by the 1,000-member Masthope mountain community, destroyed its base lodge on Easter Sunday in 2005—the final day of the season. Undaunted, the community seized the opportunity and invested $4.5 million to rebuild the lodge and upgrade the resort overall.

Most of the new lodge was operational by the 2005-06 season, but interior work continued through the winter and spring. Now fully complete, the new 23,000-square-foot lodge includes two large seating areas, a scramble-style cafeteria, bar, and restaurant, banquet room, and a large balcony. At the same time, the area added a 6,000-square-foot management and rental shop building and a 3,000-square-foot convenience store.

This summer, the area also upgraded the beginner area with a 350-foot Magic Carpet conveyor. The homeowners also regraded and enlarged the beginner area, and added a tubing area adjacent to it. The conveyor now serves skiers, riders and tubers.