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July 2020

Construction Site :: July 2020

Lift, lodge, and snowmaking projects are underway across the continent.

Written by Katie Brinton | 0 comment

ARAPAHOE BASIN, CO

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Arapahoe Basin is installing two new Leitner-Poma fixed-grip lifts, a double to replace the iconic Pallivacini chair and a quad to replace a small beginner learning lift, the Molly Hogan. Construction on both lifts is expected to wrap in early October.

The multi-million dollar project began the day after lifts stopped spinning May 31—with a typical opening in mid-October, A-Basin has a short construction window. The Leitner Poma team had the old Pali towers on the ground, the chairs off, and the haul rope down within a week.

The resort aims to keep its environmental footprint as small as possible during construction. The Pali double runs up steep terrain, with pitches up to 40 degrees, and there is no vehicular access to the top terminal. Towers, parts, and buckets of concrete will be helicoptered in. A-Basin is using a spider excavator for tower prep work on the liftline’s double fall line, as it has a lower environmental impact than other options. A-Basin is working with USFS and local county officials to take additional environmental precautions.

The goal in replacing the original Pali double, a 1978 YAN, is to maintain the experience while upgrading the technology and functionality of the lift. The bottom drive 400 hp lift has a 1,200 pph capacity, same as the old. It will offer a 7-minute ride up 1,325 steep vertical feet. The Pali serves expert terrain and provides access to the Beavers quad, installed in 2017.

The new Leitner Poma quad that replaces the old Molly Hogan double is a top drive with a 57’ vertical rise, 394’ span, and an 800 pph capacity. The quad will make it easier for families and lessons (post-COVID) to ride all together.

TIMBERLINE MOUNTAIN, WV

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Under its new owner, Perfect North Slopes, several improvements are underway to enhance the guest experience and leave the resort room to grow. “This is a year one plan,” says GM Jonathan Davis. “Once we learn more about the traffic and how people interact in the base area, things might change.” The total capital investment this year is upwards of $10 million.

The Perfects are spending more than $8 million on two new Doppelmayr lifts: a six-person detachable that runs base to summit, and a fixed-grip quad that will serve the mid-mountain area.

Replacing the old Thunderstruck base-to-summit lift, a fixed-grip triple that suffered a major structural failure a few years ago, was job #1. The six-pack is a bottom drive with top tension, a 974’ vertical rise, a 4,145’ span, and a 3,200 pph design capacity. Initial capacity will be 2,400 pph. The fixed-grip quad is a bottom drive, bottom tension, with a 375’ vertical rise, a 2,035’ span, and a 2,000 pph initial capacity. Construction has been so expedient, Timberline estimates the lifts will be spinning by September rather than Dec. 1, as originally planned.

Work has also begun on a base area remodel. Much of the interior of the lodge has been gutted, and the lodge’s multi-level decks were torn down. In their place will be a one-level, 26’ deep wrap-around porch. The interior renovation will create a one-level rental shop and expand the kitchen while consolidating it to one level. The offices, fire systems, and IT systems are also being updated.

The resort is also upgrading snowmaking and installing new lighting for night skiing. Davis estimates the resort could replace as much as 10 miles of snowmaking pipe, and will upgrade the 1,000’, 10” diameter main line to a larger 14” or 16” pipe. The resort has refurbished 14 SMI Polecats and plans to purchase another 43, 12 of which will be Super Polecat fan guns, and will be replacing or refurbishing its Torrent pumps. The total snowmaking investment will be around $1.5 million.

ARIZONA SNOWBOWL, AZ

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Arizona Snowbowl is replacing its 1986 fixed-grip CTEC triple with a new 2020 Leitner-Poma Telemix. The new direct drive, top drive lift has a 1,972’ vertical rise and can run at 1,000 fpm. It will carry 28 six-person chairs and 14 eight-person Sigma Diamond cabins. Initial capacity will match the old lift’s capacity of 1,195 pph (excluding any coronavirus-related capacity restrictions), with the ability to double capacity in the future. The new lift will serve about 80 percent of the mountain.

Given the dimensions of the new lift, the lift corridor had to be widened by 30’. To be light on the land, most timber removal was done over snow, with snowcats dragging the logs out. By mid-June, the old towers and footings were being removed by helicopter. Terminal excavation was complete, and the first pad had been poured for the bottom terminal. Teams had also excavated the area for a new 3,800 sf building, which will double as a cabin storage facility and an overflow seating area.

In order to open top-to-bottom in the early season with the new lift, Snowbowl is installing permanent snowmaking on the 600 vertical feet of the Upper Ridge trail. Construction crews are laying 1,600’ of buried pipe, and building a mid-mountain booster-pump station. New fan guns will be compatible with Snowbowl’s existing fully automatic SMI system.

General manager J.R. Murray says the Telemix will have a year-round impact, making the ride more comfortable in winter while allowing Snowbowl to revolutionize its summer operation, tripling uphill capacity and vastly increasing the number of paid visits, currently 40,000. The area’s 11,500’ summit offers views of the Grand Canyon in one direction and of the Sedona red rocks in the other.

MAD RIVER GLEN, VT

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Mad River Glen (MRG) is replacing its 1950s patrol building and renovating its Basebox lodge for the first time since the early ‘70s. “Things don’t change very often at Mad River,” says GM Matt Lillard. “This will be by far the biggest change since 2007, when we renovated the single chair.” Of the $3.2 million cost, 85 percent was funded from the MRG co-op’s capital campaign.

The new 3,900-square-foot, two-level patrol building will serve the ski patrol and ski school staff and include a ski patrol aid room, a patroller staff area, a ski school office, lunchroom, and gear room.

Working with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, MRG aimed to minimize its environmental impact. “The site, in general, has a lot of constraints,” says Lillard. The resort’s base area is small and bisected by a brook, which runs directly under the admin building. As such, the new patrol structure will occupy the same 1,900-square-foot footprint as the original building.

The Basebox lodge renovation adds 437 sf across three floors, a 160 sf increase to the footprint. Renovations were done to the kitchen, the kid’s ski school area and the main floor, where MRG focused on improving flow and adding seating and bag storage. A new elevator and fire-enclosed stairway were also built to improve accessibility and address code.

MRG worked with Efficiency Vermont and its deep energy retrofit program to upgrade the wiring, lighting, ventilation, and heating systems. Both buildings swapped out heating oil for cleaner propane.

A major aim during construction has been “to preserve the character of the base area.” In that vein, the Basebox is reverting to an old red, white, and gray paint scheme uncovered on its exterior during demolition.

SADDLEBACK MOUNTAIN, ME

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Saddleback Mountain was purchased in February by an impact fund looking to revitalize the community of Rangeley, Maine. Now, after five years of closure, Saddleback is set to reopen. Tentpole projects this summer are a $7.5 million Doppelmayr lift installation, $1.3 million in snowmaking upgrades, and a $1.1 million lodge renovation.

The new detachable quad is “going to be the backbone of the ski area,” says director of mountain ops Jim Quimby. It’s replacing a 1963 Mueller double. The lift will increase capacity from 750 pph to 2,400 pph. It’s a bottom drive/top tension, with a 1,176’ vertical rise and a 4,693’ span. The installation is expected to be completed ahead of schedule, on Nov. 15.

On the snowmaking front, teams are planning to replace pipe and wiring on at least 6,000’ of trail and invest in a number of new stick guns. Three vertical motors will be rebuilt, and all seven of Saddleback’s Weir Floway pumps are being rebuilt to bring them back to design capacity. The system will be able to pump 2,000 gpm. Upgrades should be finished by September or October.

The lodge renovation is slated to finish Nov. 1. The original lodge was built in 1967 and renovated in 2004. The current remodel is focused entirely on the 3rd floor, with the addition of nearly 2,000 sf. Seating capacity in the restaurant (by pre-pandemic norms) will increase from 126 to 400. Seating in the bar area will double. The renovation will also double the kitchen space, add new bathrooms, and add a satellite bar and pizza oven.

The aesthetic will mirror the lodge’s existing look. The timber frame is made entirely of eastern white pine specially sourced for this project.