resort to replace Casper chair

By Jim Stanford on February 14, 2012

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The old Casper chair takes nearly 10 minutes to reach the top. A new high-speed quad is an ambitious move to draw more intermediate skiers to Jackson Hole.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort will invest $5 million on a high-speed quad this year to replace the 38-year-old Casper triple chairlift.

Resort president Jerry Blann revealed plans for the new lift during a press conference this afternoon at Teton Village. The resort also will spend $400,000 on grading intermediate terrain serviced by the lift, Blann said.

Jerry Blann

The detachable quad will carry up to 2,000 skiers per hour, nearly twice the capacity of the existing lift. The ride will take 3.5 minutes instead of nearly 10.

“It’s a big one for us,” Blann said. “Casper is certainly part of our history.”

The existing chair was built in 1974 and rises 1,050 vertical feet. The new lift will be realigned slightly, following the tree line and landing just to the north of and above the existing top terminal. Leitner-Poma of America will build the lift and have it ready by Nov. 9.

The resort will remove rocks from and regrade the rollover near the top of the existing chair and also will perform extensive grading on the Wide Open run. About 300 trees will be cut, Blann said.

The upgrade in services for intermediate riders makes it more likely the resort will remodel the mid-mountain Casper Restaurant, situated near the base of the chair, in the near future. Farther on the horizon is a long-planned chairlift rising to the Crags. “That one is going to be a ways out,” Blann said.

Dotted line shows existing lift; red line marks new route. Click to enlarge.

The resort also is considering a zip line and via ferrata, two amenities made possible by legislation Congress passed last year. U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo, cosponsored the bill, which gives the Forest Service a freer hand in approving such facilities. The agency has two years to write new rules governing this type of recreation, Blann said, and the resort is waiting for that process to be completed.

At this point, Jackson Hole has “nothing specific” planned, he said, although the resort has identified the area atop the gondola as a suitable site for a via ferrata — a series of climbing features embedded in rock. The resort proposed such an amenity several years ago, but the Forest Service denied the request.

The new Casper chairlift and grooming of Wide Open will appeal to intermediate skiers. Thirty-one percent of JHMR guests identify themselves as intermediate, said Chip Carey, marketing director. The resort also has added six grooming vehicles to its fleet since last year.

While the new quad will whisk skiers to the top quickly, many in attendance at the press conference rued the loss of the patient pace of the old lift that allowed time for conversation between runs.

(Casper photo via AllJacksonHole)

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Posted under Economy, Ski Resorts, Sports

13 Comments so far

  1. Boat 1 Retired February 14, 2012 1:53 pm

    Nice report Jim – once again, getting my news from JHU first!
    This is great news for the resort – I like how they keep improving – if we really want to bring destination visitors to Jackson, we have to compete with the big boys on the ski resort stage.
    Now, if we can work on more direct and cheaper flights – maybe winter will become a money making season.

  2. D February 14, 2012 2:05 pm

    Hopefully Thunder is next to speed up. Where can I buy an old chair?

  3. js February 14, 2012 4:40 pm

    You can have the entire Casper lift, if you’re willing to take it away. It costs the resort tens of thousands of dollars to remove it. Jerry said the lift is available, although two parties have expressed interest. It’s old but well maintained.

  4. Erik Cohen February 14, 2012 6:49 pm

    Better start saving for next years season pass, which by the way won’t get you a ride on the zip line.

  5. crusty ol' monkey February 14, 2012 6:58 pm

    I guess that in the long run with all this grooming of intermediate runs we will have no intermediate bump runs left for people to learn on.

    I love the idea of a faster Casper, but upper Wide open was one of the last places to take new bump skiers.

    We will never have endless CO style blue cruisers. Instead we will increase the potential for high speed collisions by guests to scared to try bumps on steep blacks who instead up the ante by going faster and faster on Casper area runs.

    Thumbs up on the ski lift capital improvements. Thumbs down grooming every inch wider swaths of blue terrain.

  6. Grumps February 14, 2012 7:35 pm

    Nothing like announcing another rape of the Tetons on Valentine’s Day.

    Buffing out the rough edges of the most iconic mountain range in these United States ought to be a hanging offense.

    What, the bumps on Wide Open too much for ya, Jerry? Maybe Vail is more your speed.

  7. Janick February 15, 2012 8:34 am

    Exciting news that such big things are happening in our little valley. The JHMR board of directors is obviously committed to continued positive growth for the resort and the communities it supports.

  8. Fresh Tracks February 15, 2012 4:31 pm

    With twice the lift capacity and no additional terrain, locals are going to be doing a human slalom in the Casper area on busy days. Patrol will have their work cut out for them.

  9. Vinnie February 15, 2012 6:42 pm

    “Locals… in the Casper area on busy days.” Haha, good one.

  10. Erik February 15, 2012 8:39 pm

    Great news for Casper lift. However, the day they put a lift up the Crags is the day Jackson Hole dies in my heart. The Crags is (and should always be) the inbounds place you know you will find good snow three days after a storm.

    PS – The Crags lift day will occur shortly before the day the NPS closes Granite Canyon due to a ridiculous amount of rescues that will end up taking place.

  11. eric February 16, 2012 2:36 am

    Hey Erik, where does anyone mention a lift up the crags? not gonna happen.

  12. Yukon Cornelius February 16, 2012 4:05 pm

    “Farther on the horizon is a long-planned chairlift rising to the Crags. “That one is going to be a ways out,” Blann said.”

    Theres the answer to your Crags question eric, right above the map.

    I just hope these trees and rocks aren’t removed from in between Sleeping Indian and Wide Open, or from the Moran Woods. Excited about getting up faster but worried about increased traffic in the Moran Woods/Faces.

  13. Well blanned February 17, 2012 12:05 am

    Too late to incorporate sweetwater line, but hi speed quads with 1000 vert is a waste. Could’ve scrapped eagles rest too and used 1 or 2 load/unload stations. All I want is a magic carpet from the ranch lot though. The golden eagle hates those red buses too. How many miles do they go per day on their circuitous route? Intermediates can barely get on and off them as well…

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