Well, it's no secret that the Midwest ski scene has been chairlift crazy recently, with seven being installed this season - but could this trend be continuing into next season… You bet!
I would typically wait to make a video like this until we had all the details about the installations. Still, given how many announcements have already been made - I thought it would be fun to break down everything I already know because there is a lot to talk about here. But that said, we will likely make another video later this season once all the information becomes publicly available.
At Least 3 or 4 "Mystery Chairlifts"
Right now, I know of at least six new chairlifts that will be installed across three states next summer, but today we are just going to be talking about three of these - as the other three have not yet been officially announced by their ski areas.
These "mystery chairlifts," as I'll label them, include one in the UP, at least one in Michigan but likely two or three, and one in Minnesota. And given that it is only early August, there is also a solid chance that a couple more will be added to this list. So be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, so you don't miss those updates.
And a little side note here, if you want to check in on the progress of this summers lift installs; several of the ski areas installing lifts have adjusted their webcams to face the installation site, so be sure to check those out if you haven't already - well link those below.
But without future ado, let's dive into the already announced lifts, starting with Trollhaugen's Triple chairlift.
Fixed Grip Triple Chairlift - Trollhaugen, WI
Located in Dresser, Wisconsin, Trollhaugen's new lift will be the ski area's 2nd new chair lift in just the past few years, as they just added a fixed grip quad back in the fall of 2021.
Unlike that chairlift, however, this lift will expand Troll's terrain, adding three new runs on the east side of the Summit area. These runs will serve intermediate and advanced skiers and have yet to be named.
But from the sound of it, it seems like the Trolls may be calling on their human friends to come up with those trail names, so if you got any great ideas - make sure you jot them down.
These new runs are in the process of being logged right now, and they will also be getting lights and snowmaking infrastructure in the coming year. The new lift will be a Partek triple chairlift and will run roughly to lookers left of the current Summit Park rope or down the middle of what is now labeled summit park.
It should be noted that it is still early in the process for all these lifts, and location and plans may change slightly as the final engineering and surveying have yet to be completed.
The team over at Troll is planning on keeping some park features in that area, such as larger jumps. However, the double rope tow will be removed upon the chairlift installation. There was a hint that they might be moving it somewhere else at the ski area, but only the Trolls know for sure.
This entire project is expected to finish before the 2023/24 season and marks one of the only expansion chairlifts the Midwest has seen over the past few years.
Fixed Grip Quad - Wild Mountain, MN
Heading across the St. Croix river to Wild Mountain, they announced that they would replace their quad chairlift labeled "Chair "3 with a brand-new Skytrac fixed grip quad.
Chair three was Wild Mountain's first chairlift, built by Borvig and installed in 1973. And before you ask, yes, they will be selling off the old chairs sometime next summer. Wild is still unsure if the new chairlift will retain the Chair 3 label. But the new lift will have a brand-new lift line that will run adjacent to chair 2.
The bottom terminal will be located looker's right of Chair 2 and will make its way through the trees between Ego Alley and South Wild. Chair 2 will continue to be used on high-traffic days and for summer operations. However, the original chair three will be removed with this installation.
Chair 3's removal will mean that trails North and South Wild will now have no towers, giving skiers and riders more space as they ski down these popular runs. As of now, it is unclear if the new lift line will be a marked or skiable run, but I would be willing to guess it will be.
This new lift will be ready for the 2023/24 season and will mark the first new chairlift in 39 years at Wild Mountain. Its last chairlift install was a Borvig quad under the label "Chair 1" back in 1983.
Highspeed Six-Pack - Lutsen Mountains, MN
Heading up north to Lutsen, Minnesota, Lutsen Mountains will be receiving its second high-speed six-pack coursey of Leitner-Poma. The new chairlift will be labeled "Bridge Express" and will "kinda replace" the existing Bridge Double, but more on that in a minute. The original Riblet double was installed in 1972 and is unique because it features a mid-load station for its summer alpine slide and even crosses over Ski Hill Road.
I used the word "kinda replace" here because this double chairlift will remain operational during the summer months for the foreseeable future. Keeping this double chairlift will allow Lutsen to continue using the Alpine Slide during the summer, but they are not planning on running it during the winter - unless needed as a backup. And, of course, this means that the new lift will have a brand new lift alignment and terminal placement.
The new alignment will parallel the existing Bridge chair but about 150 feet closer to Mystery Mountain. The new alignment will run between the 'E and 'F' buildings at Eagle Ridge, and the upper terminal will be just to lookers right of the 10th mountain unload terminal. This adjustment will allow easy access to the runs off the North side of Eagle Mountain, making for some quick laps on Lutsen's more advanced terrain. The Bridge Expresses alignment will be very close to the old Mystery Chairlift alignment, which was removed in 2015, just slightly closer to the Bridge Double.
Since the loading terminal is closer to the trail Brule, this will mean less or zero ski-skating on those faster days to get to the lift. This placement equates to more vertical in less time when compared to the 10th Mountain Chair and the original Bridge chair. Additionally, given that this area of the ski resort opens earlier in the season than Moose and stays open later in the day - the increased up-hill capacity will be a significant upgrade for that side of the hill. Lutsen Mountains has indicated that the 10 Mountain Chair will remain in place after the installation but will likely decrease its operational time.
The new lift alignment is being cut right this summer (2022) and will follow the "hidden run" located between Hari Kari and Kookoo or adjacent to the Fall Line. It will widen this trail a bit, and it will remain skiable after the installation. However, given there is a chairlift running right over it, that hidden powder stash might be spoiled a little more quickly now.
Like the other lifts discussed, prep work has already begun, and Lutsen is expecting to have this lift operational for the beginning of the 2023/24 Ski season. After the installation, this will mark the ski resort's second highspeed 6-pack, making it the only ski resort in the Midwest with two 6-packs. However, as of this season, Boyne Mountain will have an 8-eight pack and 6-pack high speeds.
We have at least three other lifts going in across the Midwest next summer, but I expect at least a couple more to be added on top of this, meaning the Midwest could see one of the biggest off-season reinvestments in decades. As always, we will keep you up-to-date as more information becomes publicly available.
But there you have it, a quick preview of a few of the chairlifts slated for installation during the 2023 off-season. But until next time, I hope all of you have a great week, pray for snow, and I'll see you guys out there!