Two New High-Speed Lifts Being Installed In Midwest
It marks the fifth high-speed lift to be installed in the Badger State. Alpine Valley in southeastern Wisconsin also has two high-speed quads, and Cascade near the Dells has one. Wisconsin leads the uphill race in the Midwest. Michigan has four at Boyne Mountain and Highlands, Crystal Mountain and Mt. Holly; South Dakota three, all at Terry Peak; and Minnesota one at Spirit Mountain.
Granite Peak, resembling a small New England ski area, sprawls across 400 acres of north-facing Rib Mountain, one of the highest points in Wisconsin. It sports a 700-foot vertical drop with 74 trails and five terrain parks serviced by seven lifts, including the two high-speed lifts. There’s over 65 acres of glade skiing, an unusual feature in the Midwest. It’s one of the largest ski areas around the Great Lakes.
The new lift, called Dasher, will service the west side of the mountain, and will whisk skiers and boarders to the top of the mountain in about a third of the time it took the old Donner lift it replaces, according to longtime operations manager Vicki Bauman.
“High speed lifts are increasingly becoming the expectation of customers in the U.S., especially for longer runs,” said owner Charles Skinner Jr. “On longer runs of half-mile or more the ride time in a regular chairlift is 10 minutes or more. That’s longer than most skiers and riders want to sit on a lift. Our high-speed lift reduces that ride from 10 to three minutes and reduces lift lines as well. The customer’s time spent on slopes doubles or triples. Our two high-speed lifts now cover about 80 percent of our terrain, and we anticipate adding a third high-speed lift on the east side of the mountain as soon as we can.”
Terry Peak’s new Goldcorp Express high-speed quad replaces the Empress lift that serviced the east side of the mountain. Joining the Kussy Express and Surprise Express the three high-speed lifts will cover all of the terrain except for the beginner area adjacent to the Stewart Lodge.
The 7,100-foot summit of South Dakota’s Bald Mountain is the second highest point in the Black Hills. The Peak offers two base areas, over 30 runs (some up to two miles long), four chairlifts (including three high-speed quads), and a halfpipe and freestyle terrain park. It offers skiing and boarding for all levels. The Peak's 1,100-foot vertical drop is the largest mid-continent. It's a true mountain, and the highest lift-served skiing between the Rockies and the Alps.
Terry Peak’s triple chair to be replaced by the new high-speed lift is headed to Lookout Pass, along the Idaho/Montana border just off I-90. It will replace an existing rope-tow that services the ski area’s beginner terrain, which is a nice upgrade for those just starting in the sport.
Lookout is similar in size to Terry Peak with a 1,150-foot vertical drop and 34 runs up to a mile-and-a-half in length. Known for prime powder glades, the area receives an annual snowfall of around 400-inches.
Photo: Terry Peak Ski Area