Advocacy for Expanding US Skiing Capacity

Yo Momma

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Good points in this thread. If you are able, try adjusting your schedule to include working during holidays and weekends and taking weekdays off instead. Or work graveyard shifts. That pays dividends for us as avid skiers and is one way we can tip the scales in our direction quickly. I love my Thurs/Fri sessions. It's empty and I'm loving the sport. It's a sacrifice as it limits your work/financial/family/social options. But if skiing is important we have to adapt.

Another point is that I've chosen to ski at a "Geriatric" or "Baby" mtn. I tell my friends where I ski and they scoff and say ... "Too easy!" I say Yup as I get turn after turn in untracked areas and ski the unmarked single track mtn bike trails I've scouted out on that "Baby Mtn"! :beercheer: Not talking about poaching closed trails.... I'm referencing trails that you create in areas that are off the sides of an otherwise "Easy" trial. One of my Patroller buddies saw me and ended up taking lead! He was lovin' it! We ended up calling it "Single Track Skiing"... that's if you don't mind torn jckts, gut wrenching fear, whip branch face bruises, and the occasional bloody nose! Damn, I didn't duck under that branch just before I missed that turn!!! :geek: On the other mtns I have to fight for pow lines that are tracked up by 10am on a pow day by people who can get to work later! :nono: So I drive an hour and a half rather than 30 min to the "Real" mtns and never looked back. Willingness to adjust your schedule and perspectives around our sport will pay huge dividends.
 
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x10003q

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Why is ORDA a nightmare?
40 years of mismanagement all while ignoring their mandate

As this season shown, private business isn’t that good at ski business as well, maybe to share holders, but not skiers.
I disagree. Many are doing a fine job in a wacky COVID ski season. There are very few government owned ski areas. Do you expect States to now get into the ski business?
As far as government involvement, doesn’t Europe has relatively successful model?
I do not know about Europe. I do know about ORDA and it is the wrong way to go.
 

x10003q

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Here's another way to look at it:
All things othewise being equal high speed lifts put no more people on the slopes than fixed grips as long as there is a significant line. They pick them up and drop them off at the same rate, between 6 and 12 seconds per chair depending on the lift. High speed lifts have longer lines because they have less people hanging in the air, so they're standing in the line instead. It's only when the lines are short or there is none that the high speed lift puts more people on the hill faster. If there are enough people to make a line on a fixed quad, the line will be significantly longer on a high speed quad serving the same amount of folks. I don't think the speed of lifts has a lot to do with it.
FG lifts stop more than HS lifts especially if there are green skiers using the lift.

The big difference is the move from doubles and triples to quads and six packs.
This
 

Average Joe

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But to @CascadeConcrete 's point: If overall skier visits are flat, what explains the lines, the need for new reservation systems, the parking difficulties, etc.? Is it possible that most areas having been operating at near capacity during the weekends for some time and that a sizable increase in weekend traffic quickly saturates the system? If midweek visits have been flat or declining and weekend visits are up, but then saturate, either because of a hard restriction (parking) or a soft one (people turning away because of crowds), the aggregated data would appear flat even though demand has increased. Has there been a demand shift from midweek to weekends? Is it harder to get away midweek than it use to be? It feels like it. But then again, I've seen a lot of busy days midweek this year...

@Snowfan: Midweek at Taos is looking pretty nice!
During this covid season , where I ski (Vt) the lifts are at 50 percent capacity, unless you ride with a group that travelled together. Some people are reluctant to ride with others, or doubles not taking a third, the result is many 6 passenger chairs going up with one or two people on them (exceeding the chairs that go up with more than half).
So the wait is obviously twice as long for the same number of people.
However, there are half as many people skiing on an average weekend day this year, so the lines (assuming no wind closures) are about the same.
And with all the new snow, all the terrain is open, so there is lots of room to play.
 

Goose

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Here's another way to look at it:
All things othewise being equal high speed lifts put no more people on the slopes than fixed grips as long as there is a significant line. They pick them up and drop them off at the same rate, between 6 and 12 seconds per chair depending on the lift. High speed lifts have longer lines because they have less people hanging in the air, so they're standing in the line instead. It's only when the lines are short or there is none that the high speed lift puts more people on the hill faster. If there are enough people to make a line on a fixed quad, the line will be significantly longer on a high speed quad serving the same amount of folks. I don't think the speed of lifts has a lot to do with it. The big difference is the move from doubles and triples to quads and six packs.
Thats very interesting to me and something I havnt thought about. Which is surprising cause usually I like to analyze the crap out of things ..lol.
I do wonder just how accurate it all is. Or better said, just exactly what the numbers are.

Sorry if this is a tad of a derail. But it does kind of pertain to the topic as it is being mentioned.

If we had a fixed quad vs a detachable high speed quad the chair difference isnt all that much from what Ive searched. So maybe in one example we could have135 chairs on the fixed and 115 on the detached. But half those 20 chairs are on the downhill return so its really 10 of them that count or 40 skiers less/more in the air.

40 skiers is not at all noting but it doesnt fill a lift line. If we lined as 2somes we'd be 5 deep on 4 lines. Or as 4somes we'd be 5deep on 2 lines. Thats a chunk indeed but its not a huge number .

But the speed of the chairs could double from what Ive gathered it seems on average from about 5mph to 10.
So those folks (at 40 less per max capacity) are getting up twice as fast.

So lets use the given hypothetical of 135 chairs vs 115.
Half of the chairs heading uphill loaded with 4somes.
Thats 540 on the fixed lift vs only 460 on the high speed detached.
But the people on the fixed are traveling at 5mph while the people on the detached are traveling at 10 mph.
Thats twice the speed.

To exaggerate but make the math simple. For every 5 miles a fixed chair carried and dropped off a 4some in one hour the detached chair would carry 2 chairs worth (or 2 4somes) dropping off 8 people because the chairs are getting there twice as fast.

I could be totally mistaken here but wouldn't that ratio of 2-to-1 also stand at lets say a 1500 foot chair run?
Are we not dropping off twice the quad chairs because they run at twice the speed via the 10mph detached vs the 5mph fixed?
Wouldnt that also mean the faster quad chair (even though less capacity) is still picking up more people from the lift line as well?
Or am i completely forgetting something or leaving something out of this equation when comparing a hypothetical quad fixed vs a quad high speed?

The one thing I could be missing is that the chairs are further apart on the detached so its not really 2-to-1 ratio exactly. But it still should more than make up for the difference. I mean even if lets say its really more like 3-to-2 ratio would still move more people. KInstead of dropping 100 to 50 it would be 75 to 50. Thats still significantly more folks.
Your point is very interesting to me so Im trying to analyze if its correct or not.
 
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Posaune

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A Quad chair picks up 4 people at a given interval. My amateur research makes it seem like it's the same interval given fixed or detached. It's set by how fast you can get people into place to be loaded. If they pick up 4 every 8 seconds they'll drop off 4 every 8 seconds. It doesn't matter how fast the chairs are. It's just 4 every 8 seconds. Figure it from there.
 

raisingarizona

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Make more geographic terrain viable for skiing by installing underground chillers like those used in outdoor skating rinks. Imagine a hundred acres of ski trails with chillers under them to preserve the base longer between freeze cycles and rain events. Open back up some of those mom and pop places that failed because the snow making was too much of a challenge for them.. I'm not a fan of indoor skiing, but a little help to facilitate a longer outdoor ski season would be great.
So fight the affects of global warming by using an ungodly amount of natural resources to keep ski areas running?
 

Goose

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A Quad chair picks up 4 people at a given interval. My amateur research makes it seem like it's the same interval given fixed or detached. It's set by how fast you can get people into place to be loaded. If they pick up 4 every 8 seconds they'll drop off 4 every 8 seconds. It doesn't matter how fast the chairs are. It's just 4 every 8 seconds. Figure it from there.
Ahh, OK,...And there is the factor Im missing ...lol thank you
If indeed the pickup rate is the same then I understand it much better now.

And so....if i get this now....all its doing is whisking us up faster. And all it means is there is (in our example for purpose of discussion) 8 seconds of free cable between each pickup and each drop. That faster detached chair lift simply has more free (non chair) cable in that same 8 seconds.
But then as chairs return they are waiting in the detached chair section and hence we see the couple/few chairs pilling up (so to speak).

I never considered any of this and the only real benefit if one wants to call it that is that your riding on the actual chair for a shorter time frame. All one is really doing is returning to the bottom of chair faster and likely waiting in a longer line. The waiting is the same as its just a trade of spending more time in the chair vs more time waiting to get on one. As you said the only time it truly helps is when capacity is not full and lift lines are minimal. Once full and lifelines build the only other benefit would be a 4 or 6 pack vs a double chair.

yet with all that figured out the placebo affect of the so called high speed lift is still a big attraction. There is still public satisfaction once getting on a chair that is moving faster even though the entire loop from boarding to re-boarding would be the same for the same 4seater lift whether fixed or speedy detached when at full capacity.

thanks for pointing this out, i enjoyed analyzing the crap out of it out loud....lol
 

raytseng

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the public satisfaction with hs quad vs fixed grip i think has to do with comfort.

On fixed grip chairs theres a very precise spot where you must get to for a smooth pickup and in tune with the liftie action to grab the chair. It is rare thr general public skis up exactly to the pickup line, they usually stop short and the line is in front of their boot. This is especially true if there's a slight uphill in the loading and needing to pole up to the pickup. Even if most people are close enough and don't actually cause a lift stoppage they are getting whacked in the back of the leg or are scrambling to get seated, all adds some pressure vs the easy going detachable that is painless.

This in my opinion is a important factor for "satisfaction" even if it doesn't change ops or uphill capacity
 

Jacob

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the public satisfaction with hs quad vs fixed grip i think has to do with comfort.

On fixed grip chairs theres a very precise spot where you must get to for a smooth pickup and in tune with the liftie action to grab the chair. It is rare thr general public skis up exactly to the pickup line, they usually stop short and the line is in front of their boot. This is especially true if there's a slight uphill in the loading and needing to pole up to the pickup. Even if most people are close enough and don't actually cause a lift stoppage they are getting whacked in the back of the leg or are scrambling to get seated, all adds some pressure vs the easy going detachable that is painless.

This in my opinion is a important factor for "satisfaction" even if it doesn't change ops or uphill capacity
Don’t forget that you also need to be fairly aligned with the other people you’re riding with on a fixed grip chair. If you’re too far ahead of the others, then you end up on the edge as the chair is swinging forward.

I remember getting launched out of a double in UT a few years ago because my brother stopped a couple feet before me in the loading area.
 

motogreg

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I get turn after turn in untracked areas and ski the unmarked single track mtn bike trails I've scouted out on that "Baby Mtn"! :beercheer: Not talking about poaching closed trails.... I'm referencing trails that you create in areas that are off the sides of an otherwise "Easy" trial. One of my Patroller buddies saw me and ended up taking lead! He was lovin' it! We ended up calling it "Single Track Skiing"... that's if you don't mind torn jckts, gut wrenching fear, whip branch face bruises, and the occasional bloody nose! Damn, I didn't duck under that branch just before I missed that turn!!! :geek:
This is the only way to keep things interesting in the midwest.....Paint the edges, color outside the lines
 

x10003q

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High speed lifts are not better because of some vague placebo affect when there is equal crowding. They are better because the ride is so much shorter.

There is the obvious factor of not sitting on a FG chair in cold temps and winds for 20 minutes. I grew up skiing on double chairs that were 6000-7500 feet long (Gore, Stowe, Killington, Mt Snow). They used to hand out wool blankets to wear because the the rides were so long and cold. A 7000 foot FG chair running at 400ft/min = 17.5 minutes plus many stops vs a 7000 foot HS chair running at 1100tf/min = 6.4 minutes with very few stops. It is usually much warmer and less windier standing in line at the bottom of these long lifts vs hanging 50+ feet in the air while sitting still. There are zero ski areas handing out blankets in the East anymore.

If you would like to return to the 1970s and replicate those cold rides you can head to Smuggler's Notch and ride the 6500ft Madonna Double, a 20 minute ride from hell. The bad news is there are usually 20 minute lift lines for this lift on the weekends. FYI - it was 0F with 5-10mph winds today at Smuggs.
 

Goose

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High speed lifts are not better because of some vague placebo affect when there is equal crowding. They are better because the ride is so much shorter.

There is the obvious factor of not sitting on a FG chair in cold temps and winds for 20 minutes. I grew up skiing on double chairs that were 6000-7500 feet long (Gore, Stowe, Killington, Mt Snow). They used to hand out wool blankets to wear because the the rides were so long and cold. A 7000 foot FG chair running at 400ft/min = 17.5 minutes plus many stops vs a 7000 foot HS chair running at 1100tf/min = 6.4 minutes with very few stops. It is usually much warmer and less windier standing in line at the bottom of these long lifts vs hanging 50+ feet in the air while sitting still. There are zero ski areas handing out blankets in the East anymore.

If you would like to return to the 1970s and replicate those cold rides you can head to Smuggler's Notch and ride the 6500ft Madonna Double, a 20 minute ride from hell. The bad news is there are usually 20 minute lift lines for this lift on the weekends. FYI - it was 0F with 5-10mph winds today at Smuggs.
The placebo affect I was referencing had to with recent conversation as for the time it takes to make the total loop from boarding to re-boarding. We tend to think we are getting more skiing in via high speed detached but when at full capacity plus a waiting line we actually are not.

Im not nor do i think anyone can dispute the benefit of a shorter "on chair" ride especially during windy freezing weather. Nothing placebo about that.
 
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tomahawkins

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I'm probably naive in my thinking and perhaps it is true that the public won't ski without high speed lifts, but I would love to see some smaller areas open up operating with only surface lifts. I grew up learning to ski at such an area: 2 pomas, 2 t-bars, a bus, and only a handful of runs (Hidden Valley, Ski Estes Park). As a kid, I loved it -- maybe as an adult I wouldn't so much, but I remember it did fill the parking lot on weekends.

Any t-bar fans? Faster than fixed grip chairs, warmer, more fun to ride. Looks like t-bars are about 2-5x cheaper to install than fixed-grip quads. Anybody know the comparison costs of ownership?


And are they making a comeback?

 

Jim Kenney

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We have a remarkable situation in the mid-Atlantic where a beloved ski area that had fallen on hard times was revitalized this year by a new owner, Timberline Mountain, WV. They installed two great new chairlifts and enlarged the base lodge. It's doing very well and has been blessed with good natural snow conditions this winter.

But in general, I don't think 2020-2021 is a good time to seriously revamp capacity across the ski world. There are just too many anomalous factors and activity at this time. The mega-passes seem to have created bigger crowds at certain major resorts, but before covid it was still fairly easy at most of them to evade crowds if you skied weekdays, blacked out holidays, and springtime.

Ask the question again in about two years:)
 

dbostedo

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We have a remarkable situation in the mid-Atlantic where a beloved ski area that had fallen on hard times was revitalized this year by a new owner, Timberline Mountain, WV. They installed two great new chairlifts and enlarged the base lodge.
And to tie to the capacity and lift part of this... they installed a fixed grip quad, and a high-speed 6-pack. It added a lot of uphill capacity compared to the older, smaller fixed grips that were there before.
 

Henry

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The business model for European skiing is quite different from the North American business model. The immense network of lifts in Europe at one of the bigger ski complexes is busy 7 days a week. SkiWelt (SkiWorld) in Austria has 90 lifts, 175 miles of groomed run, 77 on-hill eateries, nine base villages. Europeans get more vacation than Americans, and many take a week long family ski vacation. That's how they can price tickets in the $50-$60 dollar range for the networks of modern high speed lifts, 4s to 10s, gondolas, funiculars, and jig-back trams. Platters & t-bars are used where they're supported by A-frames that can be re-positioned on a moving glacier, not for savings. Tax money is spent for roads, lifts, etc., to promote employment. Also, there can be several lift owners at one European resort. I think the Sölden, Austria, ski area has 3 lift owners. They get their cut of the revenue when a ticket is scanned through the lift gate. In some cases a farmer owns a lift and groomer on his hill farm, all part of the big ski complex. It's seamless to the skier.

The photo on page 1 of this topic of an empty ski area on a weekday makes it hard to make money. Did they sell enough lift tickets that day to pay the electric bill to heat the griddle? I've seen some spring week days where most the customers seem to be old guys with season passes & sack lunches. No daily revenue there. Ski areas in Japan seem to operate more like U.S. areas, but many of the lifts are even older. Lots of Aussie ski tourists, but not full hills on week days.

Epic and Ikon have changed everything. A dedicated skier will have a much cheaper season with the pass. (Does anyone know how much Vail Resorts or Alterra pays an affiliated ski resort when the Epic or Ikon pass is used...like Sun Valley or Mt. Bachelor?) With the passes--I bought it, now I'm GONNA to use it...the parking lots are full for more weekends.
 
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