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Pair Of Utah Resorts Buck Trend With New Lifts

Sundance-New-Lift The first high-speed chair for Sundance Mountain went up this summer. (Sundance/Facebook)

This past summer was relatively quiet, in terms of news lifts going in, but both Sundance and Snowbasin in Utah went ahead with major chairlift projects.

Situated at either end of the Wasatch Mountain range, these two mountains are both off the beaten track of Utah skiing and riding. But at each, ownership hopes the upgrades that went in this summer -- plus plans for the future -- will bring them closer to the forefront.

At Sundance, new ownership took over last season from founder Robert Redford and his family. As promised, the real estate investment group went to work reorganizing how skiers and riders get around the 450-acre mountain.

Two new chairs went in this summer. Venerable Ray's Lift, the workhorse of the mountain, has been replaced by a high-speed quad (Outlaw Express) that tops out 300 vertical feet higher than Ray's, on Mandan Summit midway to the summit. Two new runs will make it easy to connect to Red's Lift, a fixed-grip to the top.

Like Ray's, the new quad will have a midway unloading station for the moderate terrain on the lower half of the mountain.

A second short-span chair, the Stairway lift, went in from the base of Red's to the top of Ray's, essentially linking the front and back sides with an option to taking black runs down. Both new lifts will untangle what has been a clunking transition from front to backsides.

Other improvements include three new moving carpets in the beginner area, trail grading and brushing, more snowmaking and expanded parking.

Up north, Snowbasin ownership has announced an ambitious plan to transform the day-trip mountain into a stay-and-play resort.

First up has been the replacement of the Middle Bowl lift. A critical link to mountain-high Needles Lodge and midmountain terrain, the fixed-grip built in 1979 came down, to be replaced by a six-pack high-speed chair. It'll drop off skiers and riders a bit higher than before, making it simpler to get to the lodge or head skier's right to some of the mountain's wide-open terrain.

Parking gets another 400 spots, and plans for the coming years include an overnight hotel, retail and restaurants.

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