When the snow has melted and the ground has thawed, ski resorts turn their attention to construction. For skiers and boarders, the most anticipated projects are new ski lifts that mean faster and sometimes more terrain access.
Here is a sampling of the major projects that are expected be done in time for the 2016-17 ski season.
The Oregon resort near Bend announced in April that lift manufacturer Doppelmayr will put in a new high-speed quad on the far east end of the layout. Going up 1,448 vertical feet, the Cloudchaser lift will open up an additional 635 acres of lift-served terrain between the existing Sunrise getback and the low east catchline. This new area will boost Mt. Bachelor’s total skiable terrain to 4,318 acres.
Following up on the new Teton lift installed for this past season, the Wyoming destination plans to construct the Sweetwater Gondola in time for the next season. Located between the Bridger Gondola and Teewinot high-speed quad, the new gondola will have a mid-station about a third of the way up the mountain in the Solitude area. The line will then continue to just uphill of the Casper Restaurant for its total rise of 1,276 vertical feet.
On the other side of the Tetons, the Wyoming ski area has already started work on replacing its Blackfoot double chairlift that dates way back to 1974. The new fixed-grip quad will reduce the ride time from 12 to 7 minutes.
4. Big Sky
After the two-person Challenger lift sat idle for much of the past season, the Montana resort accelerated its replacement schedule by deciding to put in a brand-new Doppelmayr triple chair there this summer. The Lone Peak triple chair will also be replaced and bumped up a notch in speed and capacity with a new Doppelmayr high-speed lift.
As part of a long-term plan to improve circulation on the backside of the mountain, the Colorado resort will construct a two-way surface lift along the valley floor between lower Bull Run and the bottom of the Legends (Lift 8) high-speed quad.
Under the same ownership as Purgatory, the resort near Flagstaff will give the state of Arizona its first six-pack chairlift. The new Grand Canyon Express will go up 1,530 vertical feet in just shy of six minutes.
The last old-school chairlift in the famous Back Bowls, the Sun Up Lift, is scheduled to be replaced. Once the fixed-grip triple is removed, a new high-speed quad will be on the way.
Vail Resorts’ purchase of the small Wisconsin ski area near Chicago will result in a $13 million makeover. A huge chunk of the lift system will be replaced or refurbished to increase uphill capacity by 45 percent.
9. Cherry Peak
While Wilmot is basically starting over next season, Cherry Peak started from scratch this past season. Utah’s newest ski area is slated next winter to bring online its fourth lift, the Summit chair.