After 23 seasons, Alta finally decided to upgrade their Sunnyside elevator in an effort to reduce elevator lines in the Albion base area and improve access to the Sugarloaf and Supreme elevators. This summer they worked on installing the replacement, a new high-speed six-pack lift made by Leitner Poma.
Leitner Poma is one of two companies forming a duopoly in the US elevator market. (The other company is Austria’s Doppelmayr.) Speaking in an interview last December with the Colorado Sun, Leitner Chairman Darren Cole reported that demand for chairlifts has now come back strong since COVID has shortened in previous seasons. His team is saved in 2023 with no quick installs for the foreseeable future. Cole goes on to say, “The whole world is changing and next year will be off the charts. It’s pretty amazing to see how much is being invested right now,” before estimating that $ 300 million in new elevators will be installed in the United States next year alone.
Alta’s new replacement lift is part of a larger summer maintenance program that accomplishes a variety of tasks, including trail maintenance, improved avalanche mitigation, environmental stewardship and educational activities, while working alongside the US Forest Service and the Alta Environmental Center (AEC). Here’s a detailed breakdown of this summer’s activities, according to Alta Ski Area:
1. Tree removal
Each shoulder season, we remove trees that have succumbed to mountain pine beetles or been knocked down by winter storms. We also trim, thin and remove trees to reduce wildfire fuels and preserve ski runs on the mountain. We also removed a number of trees to accommodate the new Sunnyside elevator and terrain improvements in the Sleepy Hollow area. The Forest Service approves every tree we cut. Downed trees are reused to make log benches, barricades, trail bridges, boardwalks, and firewood for campgrounds.
New this summer, we are using a mobile sawmill to repurpose some of the downed trees into lumber for snow fencing and other projects around the ski resort.
2. Track team
The maintenance and improvement of the summer hiking trails always keep us busy. You may have seen some of our hard work pay off on the mountain this summer.
The new signage, ropes and photo zippers of the Bassin d’Albion were appreciated by many of our summer visitors. These are just a few of the steps we’ve taken to preserve Alta’s beloved wildflower fields.
The rerouted Homerun trail now winds through Albion Meadows instead of straight down the mountain. Mountain bikers, in particular, appreciate the new berms. The Snake Pit trail has been widened and offers great views while serving as an alternative to the popular Upper Albion Meadows trail.
3. Avalanche Office
Meanwhile, on Mount Baldy, the Alta Avalanche Office is working to advance Alta’s avalanche mitigation program.
Alta Ski Resort is turning to Remote Avalanche Control Systems (RACS) and moving away from the use of military artillery. These RACS will increase the effectiveness of avalanche mitigation and reduce risk to our skiers and employees. RACS is currently in use at East Baldy and East Castle. These tools have proven to be very effective in our ski area and above Highway 210 and the town of Alta.
Project RACS created busier skies over Alta this summer as helicopters were used to access remote and sensitive locations where RACS is to be installed. We recognize that the use of helicopters has resulted in significant noise in a normally calm and quiet environment. Please accept our apologies for this inconvenience. The use of helicopters allows us to minimize the impact of construction in these remote and sensitive areas of the ski area. Thank you for your understanding and patience as this project comes to an end.
4. Alta Environmental Center
The Alta Environmental Center (AEC) worked alongside our trail team and hosted summer events on stewardship and environmental education for our community.
Earlier this summer, the AEC received a delivery of over 9,000 native plant seedlings. These seedlings continue to grow and thrive under close supervision in our Wildcat nursery. Last month, the AEC held its annual Employee Retention Day. Alta Ski Resort summer employees had a great day planting over 500 native plant seedlings on Nina’s at Collins Gulch.
By the end of summer, all 9,000 plants will have found a new home on the slopes of Alta.
Read the full list of Alta Ski Resort summer updates.
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