New at Mount Snow: a fast ‘bubble lift’

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This is something skiers and snowboarders have been waiting for years to happen at Mount Snow in Vermont: another faster chairlift to the summit.

It’s finally going to happen this season when Snow replaces the seemingly ancient Summit Local Triple Lift. Better yet: the new lift will be first six-person bubble chairlift. And the ride time will be cut nearly in half to seven minutes.

What’s a bubble chairlift? Essentially, it’s a high-speed lift with  a plastic shield, or bubble, that encloses the chair. Something you’ll cherish on those cold, raw, (sometimes rainy)  and windy days that happen often in the winter.

Unlike a gondola, skiers and snowboarders keep their equipment on, get on the chair as they would a conventional chairlift, and then pull the bubble down around them. As they approach the summit, they’ll lift the bubble and exit the lift.

It’s quite a departure from Snow’s old two-person bubble gondolas that were retired in the early  Eighties.

In those, seen left, two people sat down and pulled the metal gondolas  toward them. The gondolas worked fine … until they started falling  down.

The new bubble chairlift seems so ideal for New England winters it makes you wonder why no other eastern resort has them. Many are already in  use out West.

“Let’s face it, Vermont has its cold days. After review of several lifts, I believe this six pack lift best meets our needs. Its bubble chairs will provide protection on cold days without slowing down the loading process” said Mount Snow General Manager Kelly Pawlak.

At the end of the day the chairs will be run off the line and stored in a heated storage barn. The barn’s steady temperature helps to prevent fogging and ice build up on the bubbles. It will also help  when the mountain has icing overnight; the lift line can be quickly de-iced, and the lift will be able to operate as soon as the chairs are deployed.

No word on when the new lift will start turning.

Snow is also doing some upgrades to its other summit lift – the Grand Summit Express (formerly the Yankee Clipper) – by replacing all 172 chairs and enclosing the terminal at its base.

The new lift is another example of the southern Vermont resort’s makeover since Peak Resorts took over the place a few years ago. Peak has spent more than $18 million including 254 snow fan guns.

Like many areas in Vermont, the Mount Snow region was hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene. Sections of Route 9 from Brattleboro was torn up by floodwaters. Last weekend the road reopened. Downtown Willmington, including the popular Dot’s restaurant were flooded when the Deerfield River became a torrent.

Those planning to do some leaf peeping in the days ahead in Vermont shouldn’t cancel their plans. Besides, people in Vermont need some of your money to help bounce back.

Speaking of money, Mount Snow will be increasing the price of their season passes on Oct. 10.

New this season is a Sunday-only pass for $374 (with holiday blackout dates). No word on how much Snow will be charging for lift tickets this season. It’s likely that a weekend ticket will crack the $80 mark since the resort was charging $79 for a Saturday or Sunday ticket.

Jim Shay

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