By Jesse Wood
Sugar Mountain Resort owner Gunther Jochl has been planning for a new lift system for about five years. Now, it’s almost a reality.
In less than two months, skiers and snowboarders can expect to be riding the slopes of Sugar Mountain Resort a lot more than they were used to because of the Summit Express, a six-seater, detachable, high-speed chairlift manufactured by the Austrian-based company Doppelmayr.
“We’re pretty excited,” said Jochl.
Sugar Mountain Resort will officially unveil the Summit Express on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 10 a.m. during a grand opening celebration that is open to the public. The event is dubbed as happening during snow, rain or shine.
Jochl said that the Summit Express is a “state of the art” lift system that will cut down the time that patrons sat on the old lift (12 minutes or so) by more than half (to about five miutes).
The new high-speed lift, which has been described as “complete with cushy seat features, spacious elbow room, comfortable foot rests with easy and gentle loading and unloading,” is Sugar’s next big thing since Gunther’s Way, the new slope that was the talk of the town last season.
“Our guests expect to be offered something new every year. Therefore it’s important that we continue to develop and provide innovations with a wow factor,” explains Sugar Mountain Resort Owner, Gunther Jochl.
In one hour, the lift can carry 2,518 people up the mountain per hour.
“I think it will be a great thing,” Jochl said. “We are pretty much at the end stages, pulling cable on it right now. Next week, we’ll splice and put the chairs together. We should have the chairs going on by the end of the next week.”
In addition to this vast improvement and substantial investment, Sugar Mountain Resort added a chairlift at the bottom of Gunther’s Way, so now folks don’t have to go all the way down the mountain after riding arguably the best run in the Southeast.
The new Little Gray chairlift, formerly known as the Summit #2 chairlift, has been shortened and will now ferry skiers and snowboarders to the top of the Easy Street Extension slope providing access to the lower and north sides of the mountain, according to a release.
The new lift at Gunther’s Way will take riders from the base of Gunther’s Way to the mountaintop. The Summit Express top station disembarks at the summit’s peak, and as Kim Jochl stated, “From there it’s all downhill.”
Sugar Mountain Resort expects the new “lift system’s architecture” to streamline traffic flow while increasing the entire uphill transportation capacity to 10,520 people per hour.
Sugar Mountain Resort has also added three fully automated SMI snow machines to its force and installed an additional variable speed, fully automated water pump. Just last year, Sugar added a new 1,000 gallon per minute vertical water pump and ten new SMI snow-making machines.
For more information, click to www.skisugar.com.