Mount Seymour’s $5-million upgrade
The Mount Seymour ski resort is nearing the end of a $5-million overhaul that could triple the skier and snowboarder capacity on many of the mountain’s most popular trails.
At the centre of the changes is the replacement of a 35-year-old two-seater chairlift with a new high-speed detachable quad chair. Having begun in April, the work will boost per-hour ridership from 700 to 1,400 patrons once completed in November, and will be capable of carrying as many as 2,200 riders as more chairs are added in the future.
The new lift will not only reduce wait times on the ground, but will cut the actual time spent on the lift by more than a third. Where the old Mystery Peak chair took 10 minutes from top to bottom, the new quad will take only three minutes to cover the same ground.
The $5-million price tag for the new Doppelmayr-built Mystery Peak Express chairlift will be paid down with a six-per-cent bump in the cost of lift tickets and a four-per-cent hike for season's passes over last year.
Earlier this month, the 11 new steel chairlift towers were amassed in the guest parking lot and then flown up the mountain and anchored onto concrete platforms by helicopter. The lift system is now undergoing electrical work before the cable is strung through the poles with a tow-rope and the chairs hung.
Meanwhile, new lift stations are being constructed and staging areas at the top, middle and bottom of the lift have already been cleared out, in some cases by blasting away at the mountain.
“At the lower station, we changed the elevation to make it easier for guests to congregate, and the same with the top,” said Mount Seymour Resorts president and general manager Eddie Wood while taking The Outlook on a top-to-bottom tour under the new Mystery Peak Express.
Like the new staging area at the top of the chairlift, an area midway down the hill at the second pitch of the Manning run has also been cleared with explosives to allow more skiers and riders on the trail.
Last season, the resort spent half a million dollars on the Goldie Magic Carpet conveyor lift to replace a rope-tow for novice skiers and boarders on the bunny hill. Like that lift, the new Mystery Express is slated to be up and running on opening day, which typically falls in late November.
The only hard decision left to make is the all-important question of who will be first to ride it?
For the moment, Wood isn't volunteering.
“We haven't figured that out yet,” he said.