For at least a decade, I’ve complained about the main lift at a nearby resort. I grew up skiing Powderhorn Mountain Resort, and while I’m loyal to this small resort’s amazing glades and often-deep powder, the 13 minute lift ride (sans footrest) made me crazy.
Like many skiers and snowboarders, I’ve come to expect high speed lifts. The Quicksilver SuperChair at Breckenridge was North America’s first high speed quad. It was installed in 1981. Over time, as more and more resorts upgraded their infrastructure, high speed became the industry standard.
I, for one, love fast chairs. The mom in me loves how easy it is for little rippers to get on and off these lifts. The athlete in me appreciates how my legs tire from skiing, not from dangling in the air. The economist in me loves maximizing the value of my lift ticket, while the skier in me loves scoring more runs.
This summer, several Colorado and Utah resorts are installing new high-speed equipment.
Here’s a quick rundown of where you’ll find new lifts.
Snowmass installed the Aspen Skiing Company’s first high-speed lift 30 years ago (in case you’re wondering, it’s the Coney Glade lift). This summer, they’re replacing the High Alpine lift, one of the mountain’s few remaining fixed-grip chairs. The new high-speed lift will cut ride time from 11 minutes, to just 5.6 minutes — and that’s with a longer alignment.
Steve Sewell, Snowmass General Manager, explains.
“The new alignment will allow guests to ski from Rock Island, AMF, and the Cirque without dropping to the lower mountain to access the High Alpine area. Additionally, skiers and riders can now easily access Upper Green Cabin without a long flat traverse…especially important for snowboarders.”
Uphill capacity will remain the same, but mountain circulation should be improved, especially with ongoing trail work and glading.
Formerly known as Durango Mountain Resort, Purgatory has a new owner with new plans. On February 25th, Durango business James Coleman closed on the resort and immediately restored the original Purgatory name and logo.
Celebrating 50 years as a southwest Colorado favorite, Purgatory is replacing Chair 8 on the backside with a high-speed quad. While some guests may miss feeding greedy jays, or “camp robbers” from the lift, most skiers and riders are going to be thrilled with quicker access to some of Purgatory’s best glades, steepest faces and signature ripping rollers.
A Colorado secret that now deserves to be better known, Powderhorn‘s new Leitner-Poma lift will cut ride time from around 13 minutes to just 6. Powderhorn is located on the western side of Colorado, off of I-70. Known for extensive glades and powder fields, this family-friendly resort has one base, 600+ acres of groomed, among 1600 acres, of total skiable terrain.
The new lift will also have bike haul and the resort is cutting trails for Summer 2016.
Park City Mountain Resort/Canyons Resort
On opening day next fall, Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort will be officially linked and officially North America’s largest resort at 7,300 acres of skiable terrain. A new gondola, the Interconnect, will join the resorts from the base of the Silverlode lift at PCMR to the Flatiron lift at Canyons. New linking trails are also being cut this summer.
Look for additional upgrades on two popular PCMR lifts: The Motherlode and the King Con. Motherlode will go from a fixed-grip triple to a high speed quad, while King Con will bump up from a high speed quad to a high speed six pack.
Vail Resorts is investing $50 million this summer at these two mountains. In addition to new lifts, look for new and improved restaurants and lodges, and more snowmaking.
Solitude Mountain Resort
Last season, Solitude Mountain Resort, located in Big Cottonwood Canyon, was purchased by Deer Valley Resort of Park City. Immediately people began wondering how the two would be connected. Just a few miles apart as the crow flies, the mountains are an hour apart by car during winter.
Here’s the answer: they won’t be connected. Although sister resorts in the same family, Solitude and Deer Valley will continue to stand alone.
Still, important changes are coming to Solitude.
The Summit double chair will be replaced with a realigned high speed quad. A new ski run will link the top of the Apex Express chairlift to the bottom terminal of the realigned Summit Express chairlift, making it easier to access the resort’s extreme terrain in Honeycomb Canyon. The Moonbeam Lodge is also being upgraded for next season.
These are just a few of the resort upgrades taking place this summer. If you know of others, please share!
More on Chairlifts
- Chairlift Chatting: The Good, The Bad, The Weird, September 23, 2013.
- Bravery 101: Chairlift Safety for Parents and Kids, February 2, 2015.
- High-Speed Detachable versus Fixed Grip Ski Lifts? October 20, 2011.
© 2015 – 2017, braveskimom. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.