Sundance Resort is adding its first new chairlift in 17 years, a fixed-grip quad that will make it easier to hit the slopes on crowded days.
The chair will provide access to the mountain from the upper end of the overflow parking lot, eliminating the need for Sundance guests to take a shuttle bus from there to the base of the Provo Canyon resort owned by film star Robert Redford.
“On busy days, when you have to wait for a shuttle, and maybe the first one’s full, it’s a hassle. It’s been my biggest challenge,” said Czar Johnson, director of Sundance’s mountain operations.
“It will serve guests interested in getting to the back mountain” with its expert skiing, he added, “and families will really appreciate it. If you’re up there with little kids, you can get them dressed in the parking lot, walk over to the lift and, boom, you’re on the mountain.”
The not-yet-named lift is being installed this summer by Skytrac Inc., a Salt Lake City-based company headed by longtime lift builder Jan Leonard. He formerly was associated with the industry-leading firm now known as Doppelmayr USA Inc.
Riders will exit the lift on the ridge where the Lower Maverick run begins. More advanced skiers can drop off the back side to Flathead lift to ride to the upper mountain, Johnson said. Others can do laps on Maverick or take a cat-track over to runs served by Ray’s Lift.
“That means you can be skiing the back of the mountain within 15 minutes of parking your car,” he said. “The way it’s been, it added up to 35 to 40 minutes before you were making some turns.”
The new setup also eases access to Sundance’s terrain park off of Maverick run, Johnson said, noting that the snowmaking system is being expanded to cover the terrain park and nearby runs.
Including a ticket booth being added near the loading station, the improvements will exceed $2 million, he added.
Resort General Manager Chad Linebaugh said the decision to add a lift was made after lengthy deliberation.
“Change on Sundance Resort’s mountain is methodically considered for years, sometimes decades, before ground is broken,” he said, adding that since Sundance opened in 1969 ”the balance between preservation and progress has been respectfully considered in every development. The new lift fits in both of these frameworks as it [eases] access to existing terrain.”
The lift is expected to be ready for the first day of the 2012-13 season, Johnson said.