Nothing excites the masses like a new trail to ski or ride on and Sugar lovers will tell you that “Gunther’s Way” delivered a ton of thrills last season as it opened to rave reviews. The next best thing that any ski resort can do in terms of keeping their fans coming back – or to attract new visitors – is to add or replace a lift system. AGAIN – Sugar Mountain is delivering in a huge way.
On March 29th, 2015 Sugar celebrated their season-ending ritual “Burning of the Snow” and seemingly within hours began implementing their plans to install a new Doppelmayr high-speed, six-passenger detachable chairlift to the summit of the mountain.
Construction is coming along nicely and according to Sugar Mountain Resort owner Gunther Jochl, the lift ride to the top of the mountain will be just FIVE MINUTES! Even the most die-hard Sugar Mountain fan will tell you that the only real gripe that visitors shared (in the past) has been that the ride to the top of the mountain could range from 15-20 minutes. That trip up could sometimes be p-r-e-t-t-y cold. However with this new “Summit Express” lift you’ll be taken from the base to the summit in just 5 short minutes.
Gunther Jochl is a skier himself and he’s perhaps the most conscientious owner in the region in terms of understanding what his customers want and then working to deliver. At the close of this past season he shared in multiple interviews, “…we were way overdue to put in a new lift to the top,” and that the new lift will make it “easy and comfortable to reach the summit.”
IT’S SEPTEMBER AND MAN THEY’VE MADE A LOT OF PROGRESS!
Eric VanVliet is a property owner on Sugar Mountain and he shared these great images of the work completed to date and wrote me, “Hi Mike, .I got a place up at sugar and have been watching the progress on the mountain. The new lift is progressing, just hope they can meet their timeline.. Pictures are as of today (Sunday, September 6th).”
News From Sugar Mountain themselves…
Work continues on the installation of Sugar’s new Summit Express lift. Refurbishing and relocating the former Summit #1 lift to the bottom of Gunther’s Way is moving along at a healthy pace. The Summit #2 lift has been shortened to the top of Easy Street Extension.
Cranes, dozers, dump trucks, container trucks, concrete trucks, fork lifts, track hoes, welders, backhoes, pumper trucks, hydraulic hammers, and even a Mercedes Unimog! They’re all on the job.
New lift station buildings have been built. Station and tower footers have been poured. GW Lift towers have been constructed and placed into position. Lift lines have been cut and Summit Express lift parts continue to be delivered. You can follow the progress on their Instagram.
Mark your calendars and plan on visiting us for Sugar’s 25th Annual Oktoberfest on the second weekend in October; October 10th and 11th.
JUST THINKING OUT LOUD…
The new slope addition last season and the new lift to the summit – along with the re-positioning of lifts around the mountain – is GREAT news to fans of skiing and snowboarding in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic. If you ski or ride nearly exclusively at Sugar Mountain, then you’re probably jumping out of your skin waiting to see all of the new offerings. If you’re reading this and planning a trip to “SOMEWHERE” in the region – this news will certainly be some motivation to “visit Sugar” and check it out for yourself. If you’ve been to Sugar in the past and your only gripe was the slow ride to the top – then all of your excuses for not going to Sugar have been eliminated.
All in all, we’re thinking that if all else is equal this season and the weather is exactly like it was last season – we’re thinking that these investments will pay immediate dividends to Sugar in the form of increased skier visits. Obviously that’s what Gunther is banking on and we’d have to think that this is a no-brainer. In the case of this new lift system and the addition of Gunther’s Way last season – this is indeed a “BUILD IT A THEY WILL COME” kind of thing.
The changes will create three dedicated beginner lifts on the lower half of the mountain—Big Birch, Easy Street, and the shortened, former Summit Lift # 2. Perhaps most exciting is that slope changes across that part of the mountain will integrate all three lifts, permitting skiers to reach the new Gunther’s Way summit lift from all of those lower chairs.
If you think about it – these changes will retain Sugar’s ability to get people to the top, even if one of the summit lifts has mechanical difficulties. The new lift and relocations should streamline traffic flow, reduce congestion, and increase Sugar’s capacity by 2,000 skiers per hour. For those without a calculator handy, that would take Sugar to 10,000 skiers per hour up the mountain – tops in the state.
In closing, hats off to Gunther and his team at Sugar Mountain for pulling the trigger on two of the most significant changes and additions within the Southeast and mid-Atlantic over the last two seasons. There’s no question in our minds that skiers and snowboarders will be thanking them for these upgrades with their business for the upcoming season.
Until next time…
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