Break out the champagne. This winter heralds the christening of new goods at multiple ski resorts across the west. While a few resorts installed new lifts with more capacity, speed or comfort, others erecting chairlifts forged into new terrain.
In New Mexico, the new Kachina Lift at Taos answers the long-time dreams of advanced and expert skiers—doubling the upper level terrain at the resort. The triple fixed-grip lift climbs 1,100 vertical feet to Kachina Peak’s summit. At 12,450 feet, the altitude vaults it up with North America’s highest lifts where elevation can steal the breath from visiting flatlanders.
“We’ve upped the ante with the new lift,” says Gordon Briner, CEO of Taos Ski Valley. “The new Kachina lift will give skiers and riders greater access to many of our expert and advanced runs as well as one of the most spectacular views in all of North America.”
Crews install towers for the new lift up Kachina Peak at Taos for the 2014-15 ski season.
Skiers at Montana’s Whitefish Mountain Resort taste-tested part of the new Flower Point terrain last winter, but not all. Climbing 970 vertical feet, a new triple chair accesses the northernmost slopes of the resort where snow piles deeper. Intermediate runs plunge through natural rolls and gorges in the landscape, and advanced glades harbor giant evergreens for slalom poles. At the Flower Point summit, riders get rewarded with the panoramic skyline of Glacier National Park.
“This new terrain is known for its deep, dry snow,” says Dan Graves, president of Whitefish Mountain Resort. “We’re very excited to continue the improvement of the ski experience at Whitefish Mountain Resort by adding lift service to 200 acres of skiing in an area that was previously accessible only by hiking.”
New Flower Point Chairlift at Whitefish Mountain Resort gets cross arms installed in preparation for winter 2014-15.
Copyright: Whitefish Mountain Resort
This fall, Washington saw three lift installations. The Summit at Snoqualmie erected the Rampart Chair at Summit East. The fixed-grip quad features a conveyor system for easy loading. Accessing a combination of existing and new terrain, the new lift connects with glades, new runs and a family-friendly zone.
Crystal Mountain Resort had crews hopping with two new lifts. After losing Chair 6 in an avalanche last March, the resort rebuilt another fixed-grip double with a wider unload area. Identical in stats to the old Chair 6, rates for getting fresh tracks will be the same as last winter, but now the heavier lift can run in windier conditions. Crystal also bumped the Quicksilver lift up from a double to a quad, boosting capacity from 1,070 to 1,800 people per hour. A lower top terminal and relocation of the lift in the trees between Boondoggle and Quicksilver runs will yield more intermediate-friendly terrain without tower obstructions.
Flying towers at Crystal Mountain Resort in Washington for new lifts for winter 2014-15.
Copyright: Crystal Mountain Resort
Two British Columbia resorts targeted comfy rides and learners. Whistler Blackcomb revamped their Village gondola with new cars that carry eight people, fewer than the old lift. The cars deliver a cushier ride with all passengers sitting down. At Panorama Mountain Resort, the new Discovery Quad up Trappers Ridge will provide access to new homes on the ridge and new novice to intermediate runs. Shaping and sculpting modeled the terrain especially for learning. “The new Discovery Zone will offer the beginner to intermediate skier the smoothest progression possible into the world of confident and enjoyable alpine skiing,” says Jason Simpson, Director of Mountain Sports.
New Discovery Quad for winter 2014-15 at Panorama Mountain Resort.
Copyright: Panorama Mountain Resort
Two of Utah’s smaller resorts swapped out aging lifts in their fleets. For its golden anniversary, Brian Head Resort chose a high-speed detachable quad to replace the Giant Steps fixed-grip triple. The result? The 12-minute ride now chops to 5 minutes. Powder Mountain upgraded its oldest double lift with the new Sundown quad to increase uphill capacity and add safety with restraining bars.
Nevada’s lift lines just got shorter. Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort traded out the Chair 2 double for quad chairs. The benefit? Doubling the uphill capacity to 1,800 riders per hour. Re-grading terrain and relocating bottom lift terminals should make roomier loading for both Chair 1 and Chair 2.
In Colorado, two resorts beefed up lifts to haul more skiers uphill. At Breckenridge on Peak 8, four-pack chairs switched to six-pack chairs on the high-speed detachable Colorado Super Chair. Beaver Creek converted the Centennial Express quad into a combination high-speed lift that alternates 10-person gondola cabins with six-person conveyor-loading chairs.
Pop the cork. Let's christen those lifts.