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Replacing lifts??

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I have one broad question and one more specific about when/why resorts replace older lifts.
1. What are the general criteria used by resorts to replace older 2 or 3 persons chairs with 4-6 person high speed detachables....Is it more a matter of cost to the resort or do skier counts and crowds play a part.

2. This past spring break was my first trip to Copper and really loved the terrain. Skied most of the green and blue runs. Skied one day out of union creek with wife and son. It seems like a logical step to remove the kokomo and lumberjack and replace them with one high speed that goes from union creek base to the current top of lumberjack. Are there any plans to do something like this...and that highpoint lift is awful, any plans to replace it.??
post #2 of 24
I'm pretty sure they replace lifts whenever marketing says so. j/k

It's not as big a problem out west, but in the east it seems as if the lift systems are becoming way too efficient for the trail systems. Just because you can push 30,000 people uphill per hour doesn't mean you should! On top of the congestion it causes on the hill, you've now got people with very fatigued legs yo-yo'ing the high speed quads until 4 p.m. or disaster, whichever occurs first.

I used to be the first one to complain about slow, outdated lifts. Then I started hiking for my turns. I haven't complained since!
post #3 of 24
Mt. Baker has been systmatically replacing its old doubles with quads. (These are all fixed grip, not detachable, because of the ski area's unique setting of being completely off the grid.) It made a huge difference in the line length this year on chair 6, the most popular advanced lift. The lifts were quite old. By putting in quads they increase uphill capacity, thereby decreasing waits in line and adding to customer satisfaction. That, of course, probably brings more customers in. I doubt that it did much this year because of the lousy snow cover. Next year will tell.
post #4 of 24
On averge alift is good for about 25 years, then it statrs to cost more to maintain. Becuase parts are harder to come by or not easily replacable. Remeber the lift company Yan?? After the were sued out of business, another company bought out thier left over parts. But now those parts are no more, thus resorts had to rely on creating new parts, ete.
The marketing dept at any resort cannot tell management when to replace a lift.
It's a matter if it needs to be replaced, bank account, and whether or not the resort is opening new terrain. Alot of time a resort will take out the old lift, retofit with another lift manufactor, and re build it else where.(deer valley has done this a few times,red cloud and crown point crown point were once the orginal Carpenter triple. Little Chief was once part of the Homestake triple.
Some resorts will add a high speed lift, to say that they have the most in the area.
other resorts see the millon dollor lifts as ainvestment, which alot of times takes years to pay off.
Othe resorts put in new high speed chairs as a matter of convinace for the paying public, and wishes of the owners, as well as to spread out the public.
Don't quote me, but DV uphill capcity stands around 65,000 skiers per hour, and is increasing , with another high speed lift being installed this summer in the place of Sultan, as well as extending Perserverance down into the canyon, below the bottom termenail of Sultan.
post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by pheft
Mt. Baker has been systmatically replacing its old doubles with quads. (These are all fixed grip, not detachable, because of the ski area's unique setting of being completely off the grid.)
Yeah right. At Bridger Bowl, Discovery and other Montana resorts they are honest about it. You can buy a used fixed grip lift for next to nothing. Except for the resorts with money (Moonlight, Big Sky & Big Mountain) all the lifts put in on Montana resorts in the past 5 years are used lifts from elsewhere.
post #6 of 24
Did you know the directors voted to refurbish the Mad River Glen single instead of replacing. It's from 1948 and it's pretty quick for a fixed grip. The single keep the volume down on the mountain but causes huge lift lines on the weekend - by today's standards. I have found that one can ski huge vertical from this lift during the week.

I am very happy about this decision. Don't mess with success.

By the way, the double was replaced two years ago. The new lift seems just as slow as the old one!
post #7 of 24
MRG's single will essentially be a new lift. They are replacing just about everything. Even the chairs. I think that single is probably an important part of MRG and it had to stay even if it would have been cheaper to just put in a new double or even a quad.

(Maybe they should have just bought Big Spruce from Stowe. God know's it's enough of an antique for them)
post #8 of 24
The single chair is a sacred cow for most MRG shareholders. Rebuilding it makes a lot of sense. A double would require raising the cable height, as well as new loading and unloading areas. That would put the chairs more into the wind, especially at the top. A double would only increase uphill capacity by 20% or so, because fewer chairs could be loaded per minute. (The single loads one every 7 seconds, doubles typically load one every 10 to 15 seconds.) A double would be slower as well. A fixed grip quad might double capacity, but it would be slower and much more in the wind than the single, which rarely closes for wind alone.

A detachable quad would quadruple capacity, but it would require widening the trails to move skiers down the mountain, and snowmaking and grooming to guarantee that the mountain could always open to pay the bills. MRG would look a lot like Whiteface, without the Slides, without a public agency to guarantee its debt, but with bigger and better competition for the groomer crowds right around the corner.

The shareholders were wise to choose to rebuild the single. It's interesting that when Sugarbush replaced the Castlerock double, the new owners replaced it with another double. (There was a real reaction against ASC's announcement of a phony plan for a high speed quad for Castlerock.) That lift loads about 3 chairs per minute, which means it has less capacity than the MRG single.

BK
post #9 of 24
Heard in the lift line at MRG:

Bob, Is that the same axe you have had all these years?

Yep, I replaced the handle 3 times and the head 4 times, but it is the same axe.

Thats kinda like the single chair at MRG. In the year 2025, I hear they are planning on replacing it with a new state of the art Low speed detatchable single chair.
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rio
Yeah right. At Bridger Bowl, Discovery and other Montana resorts they are honest about it. You can buy a used fixed grip lift for next to nothing. Except for the resorts with money (Moonlight, Big Sky & Big Mountain) all the lifts put in on Montana resorts in the past 5 years are used lifts from elsewhere.
I don't doubt that you are correct that used lifts are cheap. However, the lifts at Baker seem quite new. Also, Baker IS off the grid. There is no utility service at all including power, phone, etc. The area generates its own electricity. All of the lifts run on diesel engines that are very apparent when you load (the lift operators wear ear protection). I have never experienced a diesel high speed lift, so I jumped to the conclusion that they don't make them. Maybe someone could set me straight on that.
post #11 of 24
Bode: All fixed grip lifts can load as fast as one per 6 seconds. Single, double, triple & even quads run at that speed. The lift capacity of the MRG single is 420/hr. The lift capacity of a typical double is 800-1000/hr, 50% more.

pheft: Detachables usually have a backup diesel, which runs much slower than the primary electric motor.

Powdr
post #12 of 24
pheft -

Some resorts that are off the grid use diesel generators to power their high-speed chairs. Some of the used lifts in Montana aren't that old and are completely resorted so they look new. Another reason high-speed quads are avoided here is they require more robust towers and terminals which not only adds to the cost but can delay their implementation because of the environmental impact paperwork that generates.
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Powdr
Bode: All fixed grip lifts can load as fast as one per 6 seconds. Single, double, triple & even quads run at that speed. The lift capacity of the MRG single is 420/hr. The lift capacity of a typical double is 800-1000/hr, 50% more.

pheft: Detachables usually have a backup diesel, which runs much slower than the primary electric motor.

Powdr
The key phrase is "as fast as..." If you measure actual operation, you'll find doubles typically slower than one per 6 seconds, and triples and quads even slower than that. Even at lower loading rates, multiples still mis-load far more than the single ever does. To reach a capacity of 1000/hour, a double needs to load one chair every 7 seconds, with no empty chairs or shutdowns. Not many of them ever do that. You would need a perfect loading area, and a large unloading area, neither of which MRG has now. Not many MRG skiers would consider a higher cable line and a clearing at the top for unloading to a high ramp to be improvements.

If the single's capacity is 420/hour, it's loading at the rate of 1 every 8.5 seconds. I think it's faster than that (at least on weekends), but it's still the fastest loading fixed grip I've ever ridden.

Detachables load at up to one every 5 seconds, with very few loading mishaps. A detachable quad has a capacity of over 2500/hour. That's why they dominate now, at least at the big buck resorts.

BK
post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by pheft
I don't doubt that you are correct that used lifts are cheap. However, the lifts at Baker seem quite new. Also, Baker IS off the grid. There is no utility service at all including power, phone, etc. The area generates its own electricity. All of the lifts run on diesel engines that are very apparent when you load (the lift operators wear ear protection). I have never experienced a diesel high speed lift, so I jumped to the conclusion that they don't make them. Maybe someone could set me straight on that.
Almost all of the lifts at Stowe have diesel back-up (and most have a back-up to the back-up). When the price of electricity gets too high, they run them on the diesel.
post #15 of 24
Why replace lifts? I'm the type of throw-back type skier who is just as happy on used fixed grip doubles as high speed six packs - as long as the ski area is not crowded and as long as the old lift is safe. However, if lift lines are a frequent occurrence at a ski area I'll gladly get in a short line for an express lift and deal with clogged slopes over waiting in big lines to ski empty trails. I experienced too many of those 45-60 minute waits back in the long lines of the 1970s era. This is perhaps the opposite mindset for those who value the throttling effect of the single chair at MRG on prime weekends.

Anecdotally, I've heard several ski area employees indicate, crowds or no crowds, that express lifts are important marketing and psychological symbols that bring in customers looking for ski areas supported by modern infrastructure/equipment.

I believe Kirkwood, CA is also "off the grid" and must utilize local generators for electrical power. It is a fairly large and popular ski area that just added it's one and only express chair in 2000. That late addition may be due to their special power situation. Although they could be cautious based on a sensible idea not to push big numbers of skiers up to Kirkwood's tough upper mtn terrain. In any event, they finally figured out how to make the costs justifiable and the power demands doable for an express lift.
post #16 of 24
Bode:

Even if you (correctly) make the argument that a single will stop less often, you still come up with an effective capacity that is significantly less on a single vs. a double:

Single chair running at one chair per 7 sec: that's 514 per hour. Assuming perfect loading (highly doubtful), the final effective capacity is 514/hr.

Double chair running at one per 7 second (not that unusal at most resorts): that's 1028 per hour. Assumming two 1 minute stops per 10 minutes (probably over estimated), that's a final effective capacity of 822/hr.

That's still 37% more capacity. As we have seen at modern resorts, additional capacity eats lift lines quickly. An example is the Prospector area at PCMR. There used to be two doubles in parallel, with an uphill capacity of ~2000/hour. Lines were often 30-45 minutes on busy days. Once the 3000/hr six-pack went in, the lines were reduced to a max of 15-20 minutes. That's an increase of 33% in capacity, but boy what a difference it makes in wait time.

Powdr
post #17 of 24
Ask Kirkwood. They've been announcing new lifts they were going to build for the last ten years. Not a one got built. But they did manage to replace a couple chairs, a double and a triple, with a quad and a six pack. Why?
Because it was cheaper to use existing towers, enabling them to milk more money out of the place while giving it the appearance they were sincere about upgrades.

But no new chairs have been built that would open more terrain, which blows, since the powder on those chairs is now gone ten times faster; with the exception somewhat of chair 4 on the backside (also known as the slowest, coldest chair in the Sierra). The quad installed there is fixed and two minutes slower than the double it replaced.
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Powdr
Bode:

Even if you (correctly) make the argument that a single will stop less often, you still come up with an effective capacity that is significantly less on a single vs. a double:

Single chair running at one chair per 7 sec: that's 514 per hour. Assuming perfect loading (highly doubtful), the final effective capacity is 514/hr.

Double chair running at one per 7 second (not that unusal at most resorts): that's 1028 per hour. Assumming two 1 minute stops per 10 minutes (probably over estimated), that's a final effective capacity of 822/hr.

That's still 37% more capacity. As we have seen at modern resorts, additional capacity eats lift lines quickly. An example is the Prospector area at PCMR. There used to be two doubles in parallel, with an uphill capacity of ~2000/hour. Lines were often 30-45 minutes on busy days. Once the 3000/hr six-pack went in, the lines were reduced to a max of 15-20 minutes. That's an increase of 33% in capacity, but boy what a difference it makes in wait time.

Powdr
The incorrect assumption you 've made is that all chairs load at the same rate. A detachable can load at one chair every 5 seconds, with very few loading errors. That gives a capacity of over 4000/hour for a 6 pack. That's almost triple your estimate of the capacity of two doubles. A fixed double running at that rate would experience many empty chairs and stoppages caused by loading errors.
The last time I was at MRG, I saw only 1 empty chair all day, the lift never stopped while I was on it, and I saw at least 2 chairs with kids sitting on their fathers' lap. They load 101% of their chairs!
Replacing the MRG single with a double would require a new loading area, new and higher towers, a new unloading area (which would involve a major re-grading of the top of the mountain), elimination of mid-station loading, make them subject to new construction standards and environmental review which the single is exempt from, all without much increase in capacity. Even a fixed triple would only about double capacity, but it would be much more exposed to wind and subject to stoppages for wind. If they put in a lift that really increased capacity, they would need to widen trails, add snowmaking and grooming, increase the base lodge and add parking (which would require a multi-level structure). That would put them in direct competition with Sugarbush and Stowe, and destroy everything we like about MRG. Keeping the single is the only choice that makes economic sense, and that's probably the reason the single was not replaced in the 60's when every other single chair in North America was replaced.

BK
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesj
Why replace lifts? I'm the type of throw-back type skier who is just as happy on used fixed grip doubles as high speed six packs - as long as the ski area is not crowded and as long as the old lift is safe. However, if lift lines are a frequent occurrence at a ski area I'll gladly get in a short line for an express lift and deal with clogged slopes over waiting in big lines to ski empty trails. I experienced too many of those 45-60 minute waits back in the long lines of the 1970s era. This is perhaps the opposite mindset for those who value the throttling effect of the single chair at MRG on prime weekends.
I don't understand why you would even get on a lift if you knew you would need to deal with "clogged slopes." No matter how long the wait is, at MRG at least I know I will have a decent experience once I'm up the hill.
OTOH at least I know you won't be in front of me on that line.

BK
post #20 of 24
BK:

I'm not assuming anything. The numbers I gave you are factual. The MRG single is stated as running at 500 p/h. That's a load rate of one/7.2 seconds.

http://www.skivermont.com/nerve/pres...s.php?tid=1478


Doubles run at 1,000 - 1,200 p/h. That's one/6 seconds. Line speeds are up to 2.53 m/s

http://skilifts.org/unitedstates.htm (click on a resort and then click on lifts listed as 'double')


Triples run at 1,500 - 1800 p/h. That's also one/6 seconds. Line speeds are up to 2.54 m/s.

http://skilifts.org/unitedstates.htm (click on a resort and then click on lifts listed as 'triple')

Six Packs run at 3,000 p/h. That's one/6 seconds also. Line speeds are up to 5.08 m/s.

http://skilifts.org/unitedstates.htm (click on a resort and then click on lifts listed as 'High-Speed Six Pack')

I think you are not getting my point. I'm not against MRG keeping it's lift single, either for nostalgic or lower skier density purposes. Both of which in my mind are valid reasons. But to say that a double or (God forbid) a triple would not have an impact on the uphill capacity is simple not correct.

I've spend enough time with the Lift Operations Department at the resort I used to work for to know a fair deal about lift line/loading speeds. All of the doubles & triples were run at exactly the same speed (sorry, no singles at that time); 2.5 m/s. The fixed grip quad was run slightly slower at 2.3 m/s, due to the logsitics of getting four people out into the loading area as the wide carrier rounded the bottom bull wheel (knocking skiers over was not a good idea). Line speed is not an issue between fixed grip lifts. They are all run pretty much the same speed. You are also incorrect about lift capacities. A triple chair, run at the industry standard 1,800 p/h is more that TRIPLE the capacity of the stated 420 p/h (or even 500) of the MRG single, even after you account for mis-loads & mis-unloads. Furthermore, the carriers of a triple are far heavier than that of the single chair and can handle much higher winds, so a taller lift would not neccessarily result wind stoppages. In fact, triples are probably the best lift to install in a high wind profile area. They have just about the most optimum weight to sail area ratio around to minimize wind effects.

Again, I'm not against MRG retrofiting/replacing the single with another single. Let's just not rationalize it with "a larger lift won't make any difference anyhow", because it will.

Powdr
post #21 of 24
BK, nobody likes crowded slopes. I'm just saying that I'd take 1) busy slopes and small lift lines over 2) less crowded slopes because everyone's stuck in a huge line at the bottom of the hill. I'm more likely to be able to navigate or dodge on-hill crowds than bypass an inescapable bottleneck of lift lines. Personally, I like to shoot for small crowds by patronizing nice, second tier ski areas. Recently or in the distant past, for example, I've enjoyed multiday visits to Loveland CO, Kirkwood CA, Wildcat NH, Aspen Highlands CO, Smugglers Notch VT. No disrespect intended calling any of these second tier, although interestingly all are - or were - known for their slow lifts.
post #22 of 24
JJ

Then don't come to Mad River on a Saturday when conditions are good.
post #23 of 24
I'm with Jamesj on this one. There's a level of lift lines that I find unacceptable. When I went east in March 2003 I made it a point to ski Stowe on Sunday (manageable, 10 minute lines) and Mad River Monday (5 minute lines), both very enjoyable in warm spring conditions but full coverage.

I used to confine my time at Alta to midweek for the same reason. This is no longer necessary with the new Collins lift. Based on one day during this huge snow year I didn't see any degrade in snow conditions, but I'll defer to the Altaholics who ski there regularly on that topic.
post #24 of 24
I agree with the concept of skiing at "second tier" ski areas to avoid the crowds. That way you can ski instead of stand. I could ski Whistler lots more than I do, but the lines can get really long. When I go to Baker I rarely have to stand in a line of even 5 minutes duration. Even on a Saturday. The last time I went to Whistler on the weekend I swore I would never go back because of the lines. However, I don't always follow up on my resolutions. :
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