When you’re pondering the price of your lift ticket this winter keep in mind that every summer ski resorts collectively spend hundreds of millions of dollars on new lifts and upgrades – and that’s just a small part of your lift pass price.
Summer 2018 is no exception with a long list of upgrades in new chairlifts and gondolas across the USA and Canada, including the continent’s first eight-seater chairlift.
We’ve picked 10 of the best, which collectively tally nearly $200m in spending, but there are plenty of others we couldn’t fit on the list too.
North America’s First 8 Seater Chairlift, Big Sky, Montana
Remarkably it’s already 20 years since the world’s first 8 seater chairlift was installed, at the Norwegian ski area of Vrådal, but up to now no ski resort in North America has felt the need to install one.
Big Sky Resort will install North America’s first eight-seater chair in time for next winter and manufacturers Doppelmayr say it will be the most advanced chairlift yet built. The lift’s chairs will feature the signature Big Sky blue bubble covers for added warmth and seats that are heated, form-fitting and wider than any ever made, providing the most comfortable ride yet conceived. The lift will feature an audio system for communication with guests during uphill transport as well as a child restraint system for optimized safety.
Other features include an integrated 30’ x 10’ high resolution LED screen for guest information and engagement, height adjustable conveyor loading for safety and efficiency, improved suspension and grip design for a noticeably smoother ride, and fully automated chair parking in an underground facility to keep the chairs in optimal condition.
$52M Spend at Whistler Blackcomb, BC
The biggest spend in North American skiing this summer is happening at Whistler Blackcomb where owners Vail Resorts are splurging $52 million (US) at the continent’s largest ski area, this largest single investment in the resort’s history.
The money is going on a new 10-passenger gondola, new six-passenger high-speed lift and new four-passenger high-speed lift providing quicker, easier access to all levels of terrain. The new gondola is expected to represent a 47-percent capacity increase and move 4,000 people per hour, the highest capacity in North America, a Vail Resorts statement claims.
New 4 and 6 Seat Chairlifts, Killington, Vermont
Killington in Vermont have announced a new 6-person high-speed bubble chairlift will go in to service at the resort’s South Ridge this winter. In addition the resort will upgrade the old South Ridge Triple chair to a quad, recycling the Snowdon quad that the six-seater lift replaces. The new 6-seat chairlift will have pull-down weather protection hoods.
There will also be “significant upgrades” to the K-1 Express Gondola, which will have new cabins and a new haul rope, and the installation of hands-free lift tickets with RFID technology to replace the current barcode-read tickets.
New 6 Seat Chairlift and New Chondola, Copper Mountain, Colorado
Copper Mountain is replacing its key American Eagle chairlift with a combination gondola and Chairlift (aka a ‘chondola’) and upgrade its American Flyer lift to a 6-person high-speed detachable chairlift in time for next winter.
“Replacing our most popular mountain-access lifts will significantly improve how our guests experience some of the best skiing and riding on Copper Mountain,” said Gary Rodgers, president and general manager of Copper Mountain Resort. “More guests will be able to get up the mountain quicker to enjoy a variety of easy, intermediate and advanced terrain.”
Five New Glade Runs and a Fast New Chairlift, Tremblant, Quebec
The new Alterra Mountain Company, which took over 12 North American ski resorts last year, has announced a $17 million (CAD) spend for one of them, Mont Tremblant in Quebec. Among other things, the money will go on upgrading the old Lowell Thomas chairlift from a slow triple to a high speed quad; renovating and expanding the summit chalet Le Grand Manitou and creating five new glades covering a 50- acre area. These will extend Tremblant’s skiable terrain to 101 trails across 715 acres.
New Quad Chairlift, Big White, BC
Big White is spending $10 million on upgrades, its biggest single spend in a decade. A $3.9 million chunk of this will go on a new quad chairlift to replace the mountain’s aging triple chair, which was installed nearly 40 years ago in 1979.
The resort will also spend another $3 million on a shopping list which includes a new snow groomer worth, a new mountain shuttle bus, lift and machinery maintenance, sewer and water upgrades and building improvements.
New Runs and Chairlift at Hunter Mountain, New York
A $9 million expansion is currently underway at Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl in New York State which will see the long-established ski area add five new runs served by a new six-seater express chairlift in a newly open-to-skiers section of the mountain aimed at beginner and intermediate skiers and boarders. Work on the expansion project, known as Hunter North, which involves a 43 acre terrain expansion, began in April with the aim of creating a sector to complement the existing Hunter One, which caters to beginners and Hunter West, which is geared toward expert skiers. The new area will increase the skiable area of the mountain by about a quarter.
A New Gondola at Winter Park, Colorado
Winter Park have announced the biggest summer spend in the resort’s long history. $28.2 million is being invested in the City of Denver-owned resort ahead of the new season with the biggest part of that going on a new 10-person gondola, replacing the key Zephyr lift, and snowmaking upgrades. The money is coming from Intrawest’s new operators, the recently formed Alterra company which snapped up a dozen leading North American ski areas last year and has announced plans to invest $555 million in them over the next five years.
New Gondola and Mountain Restaurant for Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
A $15m project that includes a new gondola and mountain restaurant is under construction at Bretton Woods. The gondola will have cabins that can seat eight passengers at a time and would ascend from the base area to a point close to the top of the existing Fabyan’s Triple chairlift. A new two story, 285 seat restaurant is being built at the top of the gondola, but that won’t be open until 2019.
34 New Runs as Arapahoe Basin Grows in Size By Almost a Half, Colorado
Arapahoe Basin, one of the world’s highest altitude ski area with a season that typically runs from October to June will add 34 new runs over 468 acres for ability levels from intermediate through expert to its Beavers and The Steep Gullies area this winter, adding about 50% more terrain to the ski area, increasing its total acreage to 1,428 acres upon completion of the project.
Approximately 339 acres of terrain in The Beavers will be served by a new fixed-grip quad chairlift currently under construction. Terrain in The Beavers will run the gamut from intermediate (blue square) groomed runs to most difficult and extreme (black and double-black diamond) tree skiing. The runs include two new intermediate groomed runs, Loafer and Davis. The extreme terrain of The Steep Gullies (129 acres) is for experts only and will be the most challenging skiing at Arapahoe Basin.