Vail Corporation is investing $320 million across more than a dozen ski resorts, including Stowe Mountain Resort, where a proposed six-person lift will double the uphill capacity of the lift it will replace.
Nothing is planned for this winter, and Vermont, with its strict land use law Act 250, provides more development obstacles than other states. According to Jeff Wise, Stowe’s communications manager, pending final approval, construction will begin at the end of the ski season next spring and be ready to start cranking ahead of the 2022-23 season.
“This will give us the ability to spread people out and reduce lift wait times on the Quad and give us the ability to increase our uphill capacity and get people spread out along both edges,” Wise said.
He’s referring to the location of current Mountain Triple, which is to the left of the Mansfield base lodge, looking uphill, and the gondola, which heads the opposite direction, far to the right.
It will be the resort’s first six-pack lift.
Wise said engineering specifications are still unknown, but he does know it will be a very different loading and unloading experience.
For one, the line for the new lift will queue up right in the parking lot, to the left of the base lodge. This will eliminate the long trek up the steep stairs and slog across to the current triple lift loading station.
The unloading situation will be much different, too, since the high-speed detachable lift will be able to shuttle up twice as many skiers and riders as is capable now — and do it faster. That means the footprint at the top will have to be expanded.
Again, engineering specifics are not yet available, but Wise said he does not suspect the new loading area will supplant much parking. Currently, the area next to the base lodge is for permitted parking only, and “maybe a dozen” people park there at any time during the winter.
Wise said there are no plans to modify any of the on-piste (non-wooded) trails on the section of Mount Mansfield serviced by the triple-cum-sixer, but there have been ongoing changes to some of the gladed “adventure zones” on that part of the slopes.
One of the key attributes to the lift is its reputed stability in the face of stiff winds that sometimes put the Quad and other nearby lifts on hold for hours or more, according to Wise.
The announcement from Vail bills the $320 million venture as part of its epic lift upgrade, a nod to all things epic in the corporation’s pass structure. According to the resort’s press office, it’s part of a 15-year capital plan expected to reach $2.2 billion. The upgrade adds or replaces 19 lifts across 14 resorts from Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia to Vermont and New Hampshire — Vail-owned Mount Snow in Vermont and Attitash in New Hampshire will also see lift upgrades.
“At some of our mountains, this means new high-speed lifts that will double how fast we can move people out of the base areas, and at others, the projects are all about making it easier for people to explore different sections of the mountain,” Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, said.
Updated Oct. 7 to correct the name of the lift being replaced: it is the Mountain Triple on Mount Mansfield.