The chairlift many consider to be the most-hated in all of New England is finally, officially, getting an upgrade.
Some nine months after Vail Resorts filed a preliminary permitting document with the U.S. Forest Service to finally replace the Summit Triple chairlift at Attitash Mountain Resort, Vail Resorts CEO Kirsten Lynch announced that a new lift will be a go for the 2023-24 skiing and riding season.
Lynch made the announcement while commenting on the financial results of Vail’s fiscal third quarter.
“In addition to this year’s significant capacity-expanding investments, planning is already underway for our calendar year 2023 capital plan, and we are pleased to announce the first projects from that plan, with additional calendar year 2023 investments and upgrades to be announced in the coming quarters,” Lynch said. “At Attitash, we plan to replace the three-person fixed-grip Summit Triple lift with a new four-person, high-speed lift, increasing uphill capacity and reducing guests’ time on the longest lift at the resort.”
Next year’s lift projects (also slated at Breckenidge and Stevens Pass) are subject to regulatory approvals and are currently expected to be completed in time for the 2023-24 winter season.
The Summit Triple has received complaints from skiers and riders for decades. Attitash’s CTEC fixed-grip triple was installed at the Bartlett, N.H. property in 1986, and provided just an extra push to a summit that hadn’t been accessible with the old double that had been in operation since 1968. According to Lift Blog, it is more than a 12-minute ride to the top, and that’s only when the frequent mechanical mishaps don’t render the lift useless.
Pleas to replace the chairlift had gone unto deaf ears, no matter if it was American Skiing Company, Peak Resorts, or Vail in charge. Last fall, when Vail announced its $320 million capital plan, calling for 19 new chairlifts at 14 resorts across North America, it stood to reason that the Summit Triple would be on the list. Instead, Vail announced that the east and west double-double chairs would be shuttered in place of a fixed-grip, four-person chair in time for the 2022-23 season.
IT'S THE NEWS WE'VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR! We’re thrilled to announce the replacement of the Summit Triple with a high-speed, detachable quad chairlift. We can't wait to zoom to the summit on this new quad – how about you? #AttitashMountain #EpicLiftUpgrade #WorthTheWait pic.twitter.com/57jhWH2pPH
— Attitash Mountain (@AttitashResort) June 9, 2022
A new lift might still come with its own complications at Attitash. As anyone who has skied or ridden Saco by early afternoon can attest, even with the current capacity (1,500 skiers per hour) the intermediate trail can get skied over quickly, leaving a sheet of ice to navigate just prior to the idiotic (Idiot’s Option) or chicken (Chicken’s Option) routes that lie just below. Increasing that number of skiers won’t help that inevitability, which means Attitash needs to make sure that Wilfred’s Gawm and Humphrey’s Ledge both also remain viable selections from the top in order to spread out the population. Vail added snowmaking to Wilfred’s Gawn, a gnarly black diamond, for the first time last season.
Attitash’s summit is located in White Mountain National Forest property. The permitting document originally stated that Vail hoped to begin work on the new summit lift in early spring of 2022, “with a completion target prior to December.”
For the Attitash faithful, it will be worth the extra year’s wait.
Eric Wilbur can be reached at email@example.com.