[R436R, Sugarloaf] in Maine has the Spillway East Chairlift up and running, and will keep it going until the area shuts down May 1, when it will begin construction of a new $3 million fixed-grip quad to replace both Spillway Chairs, Stephen Kircher, president of Boyne Resorts' Eastern Operations, told OnTheSnow today.

Spillway East has been down since Dec. 28, when a cable came off rollers on a lift tower, dropping five chairs to the ground and injuring eight passengers.

Repairs to the damaged parts, renovations to other parts of the aged lift, and inspections and testing were completed by the beginning of Presidents Week vacation, and the lift was put back into service Feb. 21. Sugarloaf plans to run the lift into spring, possibly up to closing day, set for May 1, Kircher said.

Kircher said the new lift will be a state-of-the-art Dopplemayr chair, with two 400 hp diesel engines as well as a backup motor, controlled by a digital drive, and fed by a conveyor loading system to allow the lift to spin at the highest speed possible for a fixed-grip.

The lift will have a low profile, and chairs will be the heaviest available, to minimize the impact of the high winds that can scour the upper slopes of Sugarloaf, Kircher said.

It will be installed in the same path as the existing Spillway East lift.

The new chair will be ready for the 2011-12 season, and is part of $4.3 million in work planned for the summer, and outlined in Sugarloaf's 2020 Ten-Year Road Map.

 "When we announced the Sugarloaf 2020 plan last summer we said that replacing the Spillway lifts was the top priority in our lift replacement strategy," Sugarloaf GM John Diller said. "The new lift will provide greater uphill capacity for our guests, and its design will ensure reliable access to some of Sugarloaf's most unique and storied terrain."

Diller said the new quad will feature a conveyor loading system, which will improve the lift loading experience, reduce lift stoppage time, and allow the lift to run at speeds of up to 500 feet per minute, making it the fastest fixed-grip lift on the market. The lift will travel 3,746 feet, rise 1,457 vertical feet, feature a total of 16 towers, and will be powered by a 400 horsepower motor. An additional 400 horsepower Cummins Diesel engine will serve as a backup.

The presence of this new, high-capacity quad in the center of the mountain is expected to rebalance the flow of uphill traffic on the mountain, thus reducing pressure on other lifts and decreasing lift lines across the mountain during peak times.

Other work this summer includes $150,000 to convert the drive on the Sugarloaf SuperQuad from analog to digital, which will result in more reliable and consistent operation, with fewer stoppages.

The third major piece of work planned for the summer is continued expansion of skiing and riding on Burnt Mountain, with another 135 acres of gladed terrain off the mountain's summit for next winter.

Sugarloaf opened 270 acres of terrain in Brackett Basin on Burnt Mountain for this season, in Phase One of the 2020 Plan.

Phase Two will provide access to a second above-treeline area at the summit of Burnt Mountain, and will open new lines on some of the steepest and most challenging terrain at Sugarloaf.

The new terrain will bring Sugarloaf's total acreage to 1,056 developed, skiable acres, the most in the East.

"That's almost as much terrain as Crested Butte, and when we go to the next step it will be bigger than Crested Butte," Kircher said.

Deconstruction of the existing Spillway lift is scheduled to begin in May, following the completion of the current ski season. Construction of the new lift is scheduled to be completed by mid-November. .

 "With the Sugarloaf 2020 plan, we're confident that we have a good vision for development, that is uniquely tailored to fit the true DNA of Sugarloaf," Kircher said. "This year skiers and riders saw the plan come to life, and we're excited to be able to take this important next step."

Sugarloaf is operated by Boyne Resorts, and is owned by CNL Lifestyle Properties.

More information.  

Check out this video of GM John Diller talking about the new chairlift, and other work planned for this summer.