BARTLETT — Attitash officials say that despite their best efforts, the Attitash triple summit chairlift will not be reopening this season.
Attitash President and General Manager John Lowell posted on the ski area’s blog last Thursday that “while I wish I had better news for you, I am confident that we will go into next season with a fully functioning summit triple.
“The upside of all the work we’ve done on this lift this season is that now two-thirds of the lift has been rebuilt, inspected and/or tested in the past year, along with plenty of upcoming scheduled maintenance this summer,” Lowell said.
“With all of this work, we’re confident that we will once again be able to offer reliable summit access via the summit triple for the 2019/2020 season.”
Lowell then confronted what he called “the elephant in the room” — the issue of replacing the slow, 33-year old CTEC summit triple.
“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,” Lowell posted.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
A front-page story in the March 1 Conway Daily Sun detailed how the summit triple chair has been plagued by problems throughout this season, including experiencing shutdowns Christmas week and on the second Saturday of the busy February vacation week, when attendants opted to shut the lift down after hearing strange noises coming out of the bullwheel at the base.
It has not run since. Attitash crews have tried to get it repaired, working in tandem with outside officials, according to Lowell’s blog, which gave a detailed account of all the recent repair efforts.
But some season passholders and Attitash property owners are frustated, not only at Attitash but Peak Resorts.
Last week’s announcement has only heightened those frustrations, according to passholder and trailside renter Ryan Russman, an attorney from Exeter who is involved in an unrelated litigation on behalf of a client at Attitash.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Russman said he doesn’t know what avenues passholders might take in response to the latest announcement, but he said he hopes that Peak Resorts gets the message that many Attitash consumers are not happy.
“I am just stunned that Peak is not making the investment in the mountain. Literally the dollars they are spending are being shipped out of state to improve Hunter Mountain and Mount Snow,” Russman said, referring to resorts Peak owns in New York State and Vermont.
He said he heard that passholders are holding a meeting this weekend to discuss their options. Russman added that nearby Bretton Woods has made substantial infrastructure investments in its lift capacity. He wishes that Attitash would do the same.
“The deal is they are just going to repair the triple. They are going to repair it into the ground,” said Russman, who said his young family prefers skiing at Attitash because of the trailside rental lodging option, which makes it convenient for family breaks during ski days for his kids.
“The bottom line is Attitash (in the past) has billed itself as the ‘Red Carpet Ski Area.’ Well, the red carpet is getting worn out,” he said.
Russman and other passholders have alleged that Peak has been funneling money into other projects at other resorts at Attitash’s expense, a claim that Lowell and other Peak Resorts officials refuted.
As Lowell stated in an interview with the Sun earlier this month, Peak last year spent close to $1.5 million combined between Attitash and Wildcat.
Attitash and Wildcat Mountain share reciprocal lift tickets.
“It’s a situation where every year we submit our wish list, it gets reviewed, a dollar amount gets approved, and we pick and choose where we feel it’s appropriate to tackle improvements,” he said.
Based in Wildwood, Mo., Peak Resorts is a publicly owned company headed by Tim Boyd. It operates ski resorts in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States. Peak acquired Attitash in 2007 and Wildcat in 2010.
Its other eastern ski areas include Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire and Big Boulder, Ski Roundtop, Whitetail Ski Resort, Liberty Mountain Resort and Jack Frost, all in Pennsylvania.
A call placed to Lowell’s office Tuesday for further comment was not returned as of press time.
In his March 14 blog, he gave a detailed overview of the work on the lift.
“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,” he wrote.
“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.”
Attitash as of Tuesday had five of its nine lifts open and 56 of 68 trails, with spring ski conditions and 108 inches of snowfall so far this season.
The resort is featuring its annual Spring Mania through the end of the season, with several events and concerts planned. For more, go to attitash.com.