It was a a tale of two cities this weekend, the best of times and the worst of times. At Magic Mountain, the new Green Chair purred like a kitten brought up on cream, opening up the east side of the mountain even more easily and easing lines for the Red Chair. While at Attitash, just four days after we published our story for the Border War: NH vs. VT series, the summit triple broke down, and looks to be out of operation for a while. It’s going to be a big fix that takes eight days at least.
RETURN TO MAGIC
The Green Chair began spinning late this December and has been a welcome and valuable addition to the Magic Mountain family.I choose that term with precision: Magic family, because that’s the vibe there.
Besides riding the Green Chair, which was quick and easy, though it only takes you 2/3 of the way up the east side, we also got the chance to fill in one of our only blanks on the trail map: Broomstick->Heart of Magician.
One of my favorite people in the world, and one of my oldest friends (we go all the way back to 1984) lived half a mile away and used to ski to Magic and back home. He specifically said Broomstick->Heart of Magician was his favorite run on the mountain. In our haste to get in as many top to bottom runs as we could – and as Magic was opening day of the season for us and our ski legs hadn’t fully kicked in – we never got the chance to try it.
Well we rectified that.
Broomstick should be named “Firebolt,” after Harry Potter’s supersonic Quidditch broom, because you are flying on one. Trees whiz by in microseconds on this dead straight, and steep, and broomstick-narrow run; exhilerating doesn’t even begin to describe it, and you don’t have time for five-syllable words anyways. It’s high alert form the moment you drop in, and then it’s hang on for wildest the ride of the day. You’ll love every microsecond…unless, of course, you’re my snowboard riding Wingman, who roared like a wounded rhinoceros the whole way down.
“What the Hell is wrong with you taking me down this??!!” he bellowed angrily.
Well I get a great story out of it, for openers. Plus, I get to joke about how there will be a $5.00 charge for whining and two minutes in the penalty box for roaching from now on. You know, if you were on skis, you could negotiate it even better, (and join me at Mad River Glen…)
Broomstick emptied into Heart of Magician, a glorious expanse with steeps and chicanes. I see why my old friend loved it and why its his favorite. Bumped out on a powder day, its easily as much fun as Talisman and even more fun than Trick because it’s much longer. It’ll be a tough call next time I’m there whether it’ll be Broomstick or Sorcerer to open the day.
ATTITASH SUMMIT CHAIR
From the “Boy did I call the shot or what?” files, four days after I publish my article on Attitash, and I politely note that they need to fix the summit chair, the summit chair breaks down.
According to Peak Resorts, it looks to be an eight day project at least. They had to drain all the oil out of both the planetary gears and the gear box in order to get a look at what’s wrong. Mind you, many of these parts weigh close to two tons or more. You can get up to date information at their mountain blog here. From their updates:
“Our crews have fully drained the remaining lube oil from both the upper and lower gearbox and the planetary gears. With this completed, they have been able to start to get a clearer look inside through the use of small inspection ports and borescope cameras which can be fed into the inner workings of the gears. While these cameras are a great tool that allows them to look inside without having to open everything up completely, they only give access to about 1/3 of the inside of the planetary.
Additionally, specialized rigging arrived early this morning from Mount Snow, that will allow our team to remove the lift cable from the bullwheel to prepare the bullwheel to be lowered if needed. Special equipment was also sourced locally in order to prepare to drop the planetary gear system, which will most likely be done tomorrow. Once that system is on the ground, our teams can start to open it up and get a full look inside at what might be the problem.
In addition to specialized equipment, we anticipate the arrival of a team of specialized lift technicians tomorrow that will be able to add their experience to diagnosing the issue with the lift.”
In other words, their best people are on it. Let’s hope this leads to a better, faster, more consistent lift going forward, because this lift was the only drawback to the entire mountain. The problems with the lift were so pandemic, it single-handedly cost Attitash and entire point in our rankings system. Once they get it fixed, we will re-evaluate the scores accordingly…watCh Attitash race past everyone like they were standing still if that happens. They have phenomenal terrain and cunning trails.
On February 23, three days after we published this article, the Summit Triple broke down, requiring the complete dismantling of the sun and planetary gears as well as the bearings and bullwheel hub. What was originally hoped to be an eight day fix, unfortunately requires part imported from Switzerland and, as such, the Summit Triple was shut down for the season. Patrons and season pass holders were notified on March 14 on the Attitash blog that had been posting up to two or three updates per day. (Click here for continuing updates.)
In spite of the misfortune, Attitash and Peak Resorts can at least be commended in two ways: First, they marshaled every resource they could to try to solve the issues with the summit triple quickly and efficiently. Equipment came in from Mount Snow, rigging specialists arrived from Southern New Hampshire, and a gearbox specialist out of Connecticut convened with them to brainstorm the problems. Both Friday and Saturday of last week, (3/10 and 3/11) the Attitash lift maintenance crew along with help from Pfister Lift Services and Artec Machine had a 100 ton crane on site to help with the lowering of the bullwheel and planetary gear housing (the hub of the bullwheel) which weighs approximately 12,000 pounds.
In short, they gave it the old college try. But it’s just not to be. According to Attitash blog:
“It is my unfortunate duty to inform you all that despite the best efforts of our lift mechanic team here at Attitash – as well as that of outside specialists – we will be unable to reopen the Summit Triple for the remainder of the 2018/2019 season.
For some background, the work thus far has been all about trying to get access to the upper bearing in the bullwheel hub that allows the bullwheel to spin. While we have been able to access this bearing and have indeed found that it is damaged, upon further inspection we noticed an issue with some of the nosecone gearing in the upper gearbox of the lift. Further testing at Artec has shown us that these gears are not meshing properly. Unfortunately, this prohibits us from operating the lift safely.
We are now in the process of sourcing new gearing for the upper gearbox, but the company that originally made these gears is not only based in Switzerland and requires a four to six week lead time to produce the new gearing. With the tolerances needed for the inner workings of this lift, there is really only one company in the world capable of doing the work needed. Due to this, the resulting repair process will have to be finished over the coming summer.”
Second, they responded to patrons’ inquiries with a refreshing transparency.
“Now for the elephant in the room. We’ve heard your calls for a new lift to replace the Summit Triple, and while we appreciate all your feedback, this is not a project our parent company, Peak Resorts, is looking to do in the near future. While we continue to invest significant amounts of money in capital projects annually into Attitash and Wildcat, a new lift is just not in the plans for the near future. I know this is not what you all wanted to hear, but we feel that our passholders and guests all deserve an answer one way or another.
We know this has been a frustrating process for you all, as it has been for us as well, and we would like to thank you for your patience and kind words during this process.”
We’ve posed the question to both Peak Resorts and Attitash regarding whether once the lift is fixed, if it might alleviate some of the fits and spurts with which it operated before. We have yet to get an answer, but we will provide a further update as soon as we get aa call back.