USA — It was another season full of impressive new lift openings across the United States. With ski season basically over for most people, it is time to look back on some of the coolest lifts that opened in the United States during this past season. We’ve compiled a ranking of the ten best lifts based on their technological advancements and impact on the mountain. This is our opinion, so feel free to roast us in the comments on our socials.

10. T-Bar Express, Berkshire East: Before the 2023-24 season, Berkshire had zero high-speed chairlifts. That changed with the addition of the T-Bar Express.

Named in honor of the T-bar that ran in that spot from the 1960s through the early 80s, the Leitner-Poma high-speed quad chairlift. With a vertical rise of 923 feet, it has a ride time of around four minutes. Shaun Sutner of the Worcester Telegram wrote a great write-up on the new chairlift, which can be read here.

9. Canyon Express, Mammoth Mountain: After a historically snowy 2022-23 season, Mammoth upgraded one of its most crucial chairlifts.

The new Canyon Express (Chair 16) opened in December 2023. The new Doppelmayr D-Line six-pack detachable high-speed chairlift is a game changer for the California ski resort. This chairlift, which can carry 25% more guests than its predecessor, will help reduce lines at the Canyon Lodge base area.

The enclosed top and bottom terminals will help it open quicker during deep storm cycles and windy days. In addition, the chairlift has been realigned slightly to the north to reduce the impact of snow slides from the appropriately named Avalanche Chutes.

Next up on the replacement lift for Mammoth is the Broadway Express (Chair 1).

8. DeMoisy Express, Snowbasin: For years, one of the most notable choke points at Snowbasin was at the base area of Strawberry. The only way for guests to get up was by going on the Strawberry Gondola, which led to long lines on peak days.

That was until the opening of the DeMoisy Express, which made its debut in December 2023. The Leitner-Poma six-pack high-speed detachable chairlift has a capacity of 2400 people per hour and a ride time of ten minutes. Its top terminal is situated below Demoisy Peak, protecting it from the wind. In addition, Snowbasin added two small trails off Demoisy and an improved dining experience at the Strawberry Patio.

7. Wild Spur Express, Winter Park Resort: In December 2023, Vasquez Ridge’s new chairlift opened. The Wild Spur Express, which replaced Pioneer Express, gives guests a more efficient riding experience. The high-speed detachable six-pack chairlift carries 2,800 individuals an hour. The Leitner-Poma chairlift has a ride time of a little over seven minutes. Unlike the Pioneer Expres, there is a mid-loading station, which helps guests avoid the flats near the bottom of Vasquez Ridge.

6. Lift 4, Taos: While Taos opened two new chairlifts this past winter, the most notable was the replacement of Lift 4. During the offseason of 2023, they replaced the old fixed-grip quad chairlift with a Leitner-Poma detachable high-speed quad.

Taos Ski Valley’s newest lift upgrade means your legs will be burning. With half the run time of its predecessor, guests can now reach Kachina much quicker. Skiers and riders can now shred twice the number of mega-laps from the top of Kachina all the way to the base. Their longest time sitting will be grabbing an authentic German beer apres ski at The Bavarian, situated right at the base of the new lift.

5. Wild Blue Gondola Stage 2, Steamboat: During the 2022-23 season, the first phase of the Wild Blue Gondola opened. Starting at Steamboat Square, the first stage connects to the new Greenhorn Ranch. The second stage, which opened this past winter, connects the Ranch to the summit of Sunshine Peak.

The 3.16-mile uphill trip on Wild Blue takes thirteen minutes. It holds the distinctive title of being North America’s longest and fastest ten-person gondola. The gondola has 171 cabins, with 58 on stage one and 113 on stage 2. The world’s largest direct dive system, which replaces what’s typically a gearbox, gives riders a smooth and quick ride.

If it were completed in one season, this would probably be number one or two on this list, as it is a game-changer for Steamboat.

4. Mountaineer Express, Attitash Mountain Resort: For years, the Attitash side of the resort was straddled by a very slow and frequently broken chairlift. The Summit Triple was on the top of New England skier’s list for decades of chairlifts that needed to be replaced. Vail Resorts, which acquired Attitash in 2019, finally pulled the trigger, replacing it with a high-speed detachable quad.

Opened in January, the Mountaineer Express has an uphill capacity per hour of 2400 guests, a massive improvement over its predecessor, which carried 1500 people per hour. The ride is around seven minutes long, a horse’s pace compared to the Summit Triple’s 12-16 minute voyage. Like Berkshire East, when you install a chairlift like this, the mountain skis entirely differently. That’s something Attitash fans have wanted for decades, so shoutout to Vail Resorts for pulling it off.

3. Barker 6, Sunday River Resort: After debuting the Jordan 8 during the 2022-23 season, Sunday River doubled up their bubble game for the 2023-24 season.

The Barker Express Quad was replaced by a high-speed detachable six-pack bubble chairlift. The Barker 6 has heated seats with head and footrests, red-tinted bubble covers, an uphill capacity of 3250 riders per hour, and a ride time of 4.68 minutes. Its luxury touch features are why Barker is number three on our list.

2. Sun Valley’s New Challenger Chairlift: For the 2023-24 season, Idaho’s most famous ski resort revitalized its Warm Springs terrain pod.

With a remarkable vertical rise of 3,138 feet, it’s the tallest chairlift on the continent. With a ride time of 8 minutes, the chairlift is 30% faster than the old Challenger, despite having a mid-station. If you want to make laps from the mid-station, it only takes three minutes and twenty seconds to reach there. It’s a people mover as well, with a capacity of 2,465 people per hour.

Read our write-up on the new Challenger and Flying Squirrel chairlifts here.

1. Lone Peak Tram, Big Sky Resort: In 1995, Big Sky jumpstarted its trajectory to becoming one of North America’s top skiing destinations with the opening of the Lone Peak Tram, allowing skiers and riders to take on some of the toughest lines in the country. However, its low capacity led to a need for a new modern tram.

That’s exactly what they got this past winter. The majestic Lone Peak Tram opened in December 2023. The new tram has a travel time of under five minutes, ascending 2,142 vertical feet. Like the prior tram, it does have a per ride cost, although it is cheaper than what it took to ride the old tram. In the future, they plan on adding a gondola that will conclude next to the tram’s base terminal and a viewing platform at the top of Lone Mountain.

I got to experience the Lone Peak Tram during a visit there in February. It may be the best lift I’ve ever ridden. The trip up is truly jaw-dropping, as it allows you to scope out lines and perhaps even see a mountain goat. It’s a bucket list item for every skier and rider.

Image/Video Credits: Ian Wood (Featured Image), Berkshire East, Mammoth Mountain, Snowbasin Resort, Winter Park Resort, Taos Ski Valley, Steamboat Resort (Larry Pierce), Attitash Mountain Resort, Sunday River Resort, Sun Valley Resort, Big Sky Resort

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