Lift and facility upgrades for the 2023-24 season aim to enhance the guest experience. BRUNDAGE MOUNTAIN, ID The summer of 2023 has seen the largest capital investment ever at Brundage, with construction underway on a new detachable quad lift and a 17,000-square-foot skier services building. Doppelmayr is supplying the new lift, which will replace a 32-year-old CTEC triple that took more than 15 minutes to climb the south side of the mountain. The new 688 hp Centennial Express will carry 1,800 skiers per hour with a much-improved six minute ride time. The 16-tower lift will rise 1,616 vertical feet with 92 chairs and a slope length of 5,773 feet. Doppelmayr began work on the project immediately after the season ended in April. As of press time, the old fixed grip lift was mostly removed, and foundations for several new towers and the bottom terminal were completed. A helicopter will remove old towers that stood on steeper sections of the lift line at the same time it delivers concrete for the new tower footings. The lift is expected to be complete by the first week of December. In the base area, a 5,000-square-foot mountain sports school building is being dramatically expanded into a 17,000-square-foot Mountain Adventure Center (MAC). Boise-based CSDI Construction poured the foundation for the expanded facility in early summer, and construction will continue over the next 18 months. Exterior construction on the timber frame building is expected to be complete prior to the 2023-24 winter season. If staffing allows, interior construction will continue throughout this winter. When the MAC debuts in the 2024-25 ski season, it will house modern ticketing services, guest services, reservations, a rental shop, a retail store, a ski school, restrooms and a coffee shop all on one level. The goal is to create a seamless arrivals process with one stop for all guest needs. TAOS SKI VALLEY, NM This summer at Taos, two aging fixed grip lifts are being removed and replaced with Leitner-Poma lifts, including one detachable. The bigger of the two installations is Lift 4, formerly a fixed grip quad with a 10-plus minute ride time in Kachina Basin. In its place, Taos is building an 800 hp detachable quad, the second high-speed lift at the resort. The new Lift 4 will span 4,600 feet, with a ride time of less than five minutes and capacity to carry 2,400 skiers per hour. This project is key to Taos’ year-round operations, as the lift services skiers, hikers, a via ferrata, and a bike park at different times throughout the year. In the village of Taos Ski Valley, an old Yan triple was removed in the spring and will be replaced with a more modern Alpha triple. As part of this project, Taos crews regraded the beginner slope it serves to make a wider run with a more consistent pitch. The new triple will be 1,203 feet long with a vertical rise of 148 feet. Power comes from a 100 hp AC motor, moving the lift at 400 feet per minute. Although capacity will not change, Taos expects to be able to source parts more easily than it could with the orphan Yan. New Mexico-based Summit Install is performing both lift installations on behalf of Leitner-Poma. As of press time, Summit was working on a total of 23 tower foundations—18 for the detachable quad in Kachina Basin and five for the beginner triple. Both lifts are expected to be load tested before the start of the season. SOLITUDE MOUNTAIN, UT Following a winter with more than 800 inches of snow, Solitude was allocated more than $16 million for capital improvements this summer by parent company Alterra. At the top of the list was replacing Utah’s first high speed quad, built in 1989. The original Eagle Express spun its last laps with a party on May 7. Solitude immediately began pushing snow away, and the team from Highlander Lift Services deconstructed the old VonRoll-CTEC hybrid lift, which had reached the end of its useful life. Once it was gone, Highlander began setting foundations for a Doppelmayr six-pack, the first such lift at Solitude. Eagle Express 2.0 will travel 4,717 feet in less than five minutes. The lift will transport 3,000 skiers per hour, up modestly from 2,800 per hour on the old lift. Guests will experience more comfortable chairs and a longer loading interval, making for a more efficient loading experience. Highlander is installing a total of 15 new lift towers and two new UNI-G terminals from Doppelmayr. The drive station will house an 800 hp AC motor. Despite record snowfall, the project was on schedule as of printing, and is expected to open for skiers in early December. Solitude is also ramping up its remote avalanche control efforts with the installation of three Wyssen towers. The resort installed its first such tower last summer in the Boundary Chutes area of Honeycomb Canyon. “We were thrilled with how well the remote detonation capabilities assisted our avalanche mitigation team during a year of record snowfall,” noted Travis Holland, communications and PR manager at Solitude. This fall’s installation focuses on Fantasy Ridge, and will further expedite the process of opening the east face of Honeycomb Canyon. Installation is accomplished entirely by helicopter onto concrete foundations. A third major project encompasses three new mountain bike trails designed by Gravity Logic. The first is a wide, green trail; the second, a blue freeride trail with large steep berms and roller jump options. Both are served by the Moonbeam Express. Finally, Gravity Logic designed a black tech trail that will follow the fall line of the mountain down to the base area. The green and blue trails are being machine built in a downhill flow style; the black trail is being hand-built. MT. SOUTHINGTON, CT Mt. Southington focused this summer on enhancing the beginner experience, building a new lift and ski school facility. A 70-foot by 40-foot building is replacing a smaller ski school building erected in the 1970s. Fluctuating material costs caused building plans to change a few times before the resort settled on a steel building from Connecticut-based Advanced Welding. Mt. Southington performed much of the building installation itself. The new learning facility will include a large locker room for instructors, a break room, office space, restrooms, and a medical station. It will also be the anchor point around which new SNOW Operating-designed Terrain Based Learning features will be built. Ski area president and GM Jay Dougherty hopes the facility will improve hiring and retention as well as the guest experience. “We felt providing a proper support building to house an instructor locker room and break lounge was the right move to retain existing staff and attract new instructors,” he said. “With an increased volume of lessons over the last few years, their workdays have been extended and the previous building was not sufficient to support the growing operation.” Outside, Ropeway Construction erected a new Partek triple chair. The 700-foot lift replaces an aging Hall double, and will carry beginner skiers 90 vertical feet on the south side of the mountain. The 40 hp lift will boost capacity on the beginner slope to 1,300 skiers per hour, and it will allow an instructor or parent to ride with two children at a time instead of one. Due to the gentle angle and location, all four towers were erected by excavator. The lift is expected to be operational by November. In addition to the building and lift project, Mt. Southington also replaced 2,000 feet of 8-inch snowmaking pipe this summer and upgraded its electrical supply for future snowmaking expansions. NUB'S NOB, MI Skytrac and Nub’s Nob are working together on the resort’s first lift installation in 15 years. Crews removed the main lift out of the base, a Riblet quad built in 1978, from the mountain immediately after the season ended in April. Nub’s Nob staff is installing a new quad lift in house, with foundation work contracted out to Kent Companies of Traverse City, Mich. “The concrete work on modern lifts is more involved compared to the older Riblets we have, and I’m glad to be working with professionals who do concrete work every day for this lift project,” said GM Ben Doornbos. As of mid-summer, the concrete work was nearly complete, and towers had just arrived from the factory in Salt Lake City. Removal of the old lift and construction of a new one required replacing snowmaking pipe and electrical lines that ran in the same alignment as the lift. This part of the project involved welding 1,400 feet of new pipe and placing new fixed snowmaking guns along the west side of the run where the new lift ascends. The Skytrac quad will have a 200 hp AC motor driving the bullwheel at up to 450 feet per minute. Slope length will be 1,556 feet with a vertical rise just under 400 feet. Doornbos said skiers will notice two major improvements with the new lift, even though it has a similar capacity to the old. First, the 74 new Skytrac carriers, with padded seats and backrests, are more ergonomic and comfortable than the old Riblet model. Second, the new lift has only 10 towers instead of 14, reducing obstructions for skiers on two popular trails. Doornbos said installing a lift in house has been challenging, but project manager Marty Moore has been involved in many installations in his time at Nub’s Nob and has kept the project moving. Doornbos hopes to load test the lift at the end of October.