As the old adage goes, there are two seasons: Winter and Construction.
While the former is what we skiers and snowboarders all crave, we need the latter to help us pursue our passion.
And this past summer, er, I mean, construction season has been a busy one for many North American winter mountain resorts: More than 20 lifts of all persuasions — gondolas, chondolas, high-speed detachable chairs, bubble lifts, etc. — are expected to make their debuts for the 2018-19 season.
While the majority of the new lifts simply replace and/or update existing conveyances, three projects actually open up new terrain.
The following are the most intriguing results of construction season:
The Beavers, Arapahoe Basin
The four-person fixed-grip lift opens up 468 acres and 30 new runs of intermediate groomers and advanced tree skiing terrain at Colorado’s A-Basin. It will also provide access to the hike-to expert-only Steep Gullies.
Hunter North, Hunter Mountain
The skiable acreage at the popular New York resort will be increased by 25 percent when Hunter Mountain’s new aspect opens this season. The 80-acre Hunter North consists of five trails and four gladed areas served by a six-person, high-speed detachable chair.
Chair 6, Mt. Spokane
After many years of being held up in litigation, Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park finally got its expansion project underway. The backside of the Washington resort will feature seven runs and 1,500 feet of vertical carved out of 279 acres and served by a triple chair.
British Columbia’s mega-mountain put up three new lifts over the summer, all replacements. A 10-person gondola has taken the place of the Wizard and Solar chairlifts on the Blackcomb side, while on the Whistler side the high-speed quad Emerald Express is now a six-person chair and the Catskinner triple is a high-speed quad.
The Colorado resort replaced the American Eagle quad with a high-speed chondola, a combination of six-person chairs and eight-person gondolas. Also, Copper upgraded the American Flyer lift to a high-speed, six-person bubble chair.
Montana’s biggest resort now has another superlative, the first eight-person, high-speed detachable chair in North America; the new Ramcharger lift replaces the old Ramcharger high-speed quad. Also, Big Sky replaced the old Shedhorn double chair with a high-speed quad.
Zephyr Gondola, Winter Park
Among the $28 million in improvements at the Colorado resort, Winter Park plunked down the lion’s share fo the construction of a 10-person gondola to replace the Zephyr Express high-speed quad.
Chet’s Dream, Loveland
The 60-year-old double chair at the Colorado resort known as Lift 1 has been replaced by high-speed, detachable quad named in honor of one of Loveland’s original owners/developers Chester (Chet) Upham, Jr.
Summit Gondola, SilverStar
An eight-person gondola will now whisk guests from the village to the summit of B.C.’s SilverStar resort; previously, skiers and snowboarders got the top via a 50-year-old double chair.