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Some Western Resorts Go Ahead With Lift Construction; Others Put Them On Hold

bottomexcavation New lift construction at a number of Western resorts has started in earnest, like for Arizona's Snowbowl's state-of-the-art Chondola. (Li Cui/Arizona Snowbowl)

The COVID-19 pandemic's impact has spread across the ski and snowboard industry in the West, and one of its victims has been plans for new lifts. But a quintet of resorts are pushing ahead with plans, while others take a pause.

Those resorts going ahead with construction plans this summer include Timberline, on the shoulder of Oregon's Mt. Hood, which has begun to replace its oldest chairlift -- the Pucci Chairlift first run in 1956 -- with a detachable quad to better serve modest terrain below Timberline Lodge and west of Wy'East Day Lodge. Also, the upper-mountain Palmer Lift that was damaged by the weather this past season will be repaired and upgraded.

At Arizona Snowbowl, Mountain Capital Partners have begun construction of a new chair-gondola Chondola. The combo lift will slot eight-person gondolas between every two six-seat chairs to replace the main Aggasiz Chair -- and cutting ride time to the summit in half.

In Colorado, Snowmass is going full speed ahead to replace the Big Burn lift -- one of the first high-speed chairs in the West -- with a six-seat detachable chair. The upgrade will move the loading terminal up the hill and improve access to the massive intermediate terrain on the upper mountain.

Also in the Centennial State, Arapahoe Basin crews will replace the famed Pallavicini with a similar fixed-grip double, and the learning area Molly Hogan will become a fixed quad -- doubling its capacity

At Sun Valley, ownership is moving forward with expansion on the north edge of the Idaho resort, including replacing the oldest chair on the mountain -- 42-year-old Cold Springs fixed grip -- with a detachable quad that will load 4,200 feet lower than before. Also will make it easier to get to Bald Mountain ridge linking up with the Christmas chair. This comes at the same time as the opening of more expert and advanced terrain off the top of Seattle Ridge on Bald Mountain's north shoulder.

Projects delayed include a half-dozen by Vail Resorts. That means Breckenridge skiers and riders will have to wait for a new four-person high speed lift that is planned to run just below the base terminal for the Zendo Chair to the top terminal of the Independence SuperChair on Peak 7 -- reducing congestion around the base area.

Keystone regulars won't get a new high-speed six-pack Peru Chair that was to serve the resort's large terrain park and reduce base area congestion.

And at Beaver Creek, novices and intermediates will have to wait for two new chairlifts -- including on high-speed detachable -- that would have delivered them into the alpine bowl with a moderate pitch in McCoy Park.

Utah's Nordic Valley, owned by Mountain Capital Partners, has put off construction of a new six-pack Lift 5 that would open up nearly 350 acres of new terrain south of the current ski area.

And, California's Mammoth Mountain has postponed replacing both the Broadway Express and Canyon Express chairs with six-seat detachable lifts.



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