Banter about a bunny slope.
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Six Packs good or bad?
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Updated 6 months ago
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6 months ago

So I started a bit of a firestorm when I suggested that Vail Resorts, now the owner of Stowe’s on snow operations, should upgrade their quad to a six. Vail has done this to most “major” lifts at their Colorado resorts.

This unleashed a discussion that too much uphill capacity results in “too many skiers on the slopes” . Thus real skiers would rather stand in line vice ski a crowded slope? I feel I would much rather be skiing than not. I can avoid the crowds on the slopes easier than in the lift line.   

Thoughts? 

6 months ago

I’m totally with you (add more uphill lift capacity), and have argued for it at Snowshoe (Ballhooter) on this forum before.  

I’ve skied a lot all over the world, and very rarely have I been uncomfortable due to crowding on slopes.  Some of the narrow connector trails at Snowshoe can be annoying, and heading from the top of Whitetail Express over to Expert’s Choice can get really crowded.  

But, in general, I’m content to wait at the edge for 20 seconds or so and let traffic pass, then head out onto the slope.  

I’m generally in favor of lift upgrades at all resorts, and in the mid-A, would like to see them widen existing trails if they need to (or simply blow better coverage on them so skiers can ski the full width of the trail).

It’s been a while since I skiied Stowe, but which lift are you talking about?  Is it the one that serves Goat and some of their other gnarly runs?

 

6 months ago

Herman Dupre always said if you are hanging in the air you are skiing. the problem with the sixes is always the unload.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

For years it was said that the reason the old double at Sugar could not be upgraded to a quad was to keep the number of skiers down on the slopes.  The double had unloading at mid-station and then went to the summit.  Before the double was replaced, a new trail was opened to provide another route down that is blue-black.  Might have widened another blue too.  The old double took 12 min to the top.  I think the current quad is something like a 7-min ride.  From what I can tell, everyone who used to ski Sugar was happy with the upgrade.

Clearly the faster quad is also much better for summer tourists.  In fact, the lift is actually a chondola so it would be possible to have gondola cars during the summer season.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

When Alta decided to replace the Supreme triple with a detachable quad, it was stated that it’s easier to adjust the capacity than with a fixed-grip quad.  Also replaced the short old double, Cecret, that started from just above the mid-mountain lodge.  The blues from the summit were widened a bit and I think the easiest blue was going to be re-graded slightly.  The thinking being that more advanced beginners would ride up Supreme than before since Cecret was no long an option.  An unload mid-station didn’t work because of the size of the Albion Fen, which is a sensitive environment and easily damaged.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

About 10 years ago Massanutten started replacing the original doubles.  The beginner double was replaced with a quad.  The intermediate double that starts at mid-mountain was replaced with a triple.  Pretty sure the related trails were widened.  I know that Geronimo was changed since the new lift started and ended at a different location.  Of course, Mnut has never been that crowded on weekends in comparison to other MidA/SE ski areas for assorted reasons.

Denis - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

I prefer to have lower lift capacity and better snow.  It’s not about crowding on the slopes so much as it is about the snow.  The major reason why the snow is so good at Mad River is that the fixed grip single chair is the only way to the top.  That, and they close the mountain for 24 hours after a rain event.  High lift capacity plus high snowmaking capacity makes hardpack and ice.  

My skier experience at Alta has been considerably degraded by the construction in recent years of high speed lifts including a 6 pack.  Alta is now tracked out by 11:00 on powder days.  It is now overrun with ‘powder locusts’, a term I heard from John L.  Go to Montana! 

6 months ago

I’d take a fixed grip quad and double over a high speed 6 pack.  Both set ups can deliver the same number of skiers uphill per hour but HS6 has fewer chairs on the cable going up but moving faster where the fixed grip 4+2 has MORE chairs and more seats moving slower…  So, where there are 500 skiers the 6 pack might have 40 chairs with 240 people going up and 260 people standing at the bottom where a 4+2 might have 70 chairs on the two cables heading up, but more slowly, with 420 people sitting down riding and only 80 people standing at the bottom…

 

High speed means more people standing for a long time and fewer sitting, but for a shorter ride where fixed means more people sitting for a long time as long as the number of seats is the same (6 pack HS vs 4+2 fixed).

When it’s ski up with no wait the 6 pack is way faster… When overloaded at the corral both can only deliver the skiers at the rate they can load and unload, which would be the same unless one packs more per ride than the other..

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

Denis wrote:

I prefer to have lower lift capacity and better snow.  It’s not about crowding on the slopes so much as it is about the snow.  The major reason why the snow is so good at Mad River is that the fixed grip single chair is the only way to the top.  That, and they close the mountain for 24 hours after a rain event.  High lift capacity plus high snowmaking capacity makes hardpack and ice.  

My skier experience at Alta has been considerably degraded by the construction in recent years of high speed lifts including a 6 pack.  Alta is now tracked out by 11:00 on powder days.  It is now overrun with ‘powder locusts’, a term I heard from John L.  Go to Montana! 

6-pack at Alta?  Nope, the high-speed detachable lifts for Collins, Sugarloaf, and now Supreme, are all quads.  But I understand your point.  There are far more tourist-types who didn’t ski Alta when it took two lifts to reach the top of Collins and the Sugarloaf lift meant a much longer lift ride.

Note that Big Sky is upgrading their lifts in a big way.  The Challenger double was replaced by a triple.  The Long Peak triple was replaced by a bubble six-pack detachable.  More lift upgrades are part of the Big Sky 2025 plan.  One reason I’m hoping to get back there sooner rather than later.

http://bigsky2025.com

6 months ago

As somebody that tries to ski early and late season, or midweek when possible I’ll take the high speed lifts any day. However I still believe for lifts that serve green trails the quads create a better experience than the 6. Due to the loading and unloading difficulties beginners face.

6 months ago

rbrtlav wrote:

As somebody that tries to ski early and late season, or midweek when possible I’ll take the high speed lifts any day. However I still believe for lifts that serve green trails the quads create a better experience than the 6. Due to the loading and unloading difficulties beginners face.

Couldn’t agree with you more. Even at 7 Springs, the Polar Bear express out of the main base, which serves the vast majority of the beginners terrain, stops all the time from people falling in line, loading, or unloading. By comparision, Gunnar Express 6, expecially when lost girl isn’t open, never stops. HS4 > HS6 for beginners.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

rbrtlav wrote:

As somebody that tries to ski early and late season, or midweek when possible I’ll take the high speed lifts any day. However I still believe for lifts that serve green trails the quads create a better experience than the 6. Due to the loading and unloading difficulties beginners face.

Have you skied at Wintergreen lately?  I haven’t been there for quite a while.  The few times I went on the weekend, I don’t remember the 6-pack for Dobie stopping that often because beginners were messing up loading.  The gates that separate the 6 people up next are staggered to help get people to the right spot and there isn’t that far to go between the gate and the pick up point.

Massanutten installed conveyor loading in 2006 or 2007.  First with the quad replacement for Lift 3 (Geronimo), then a year later a retrofit to Lift 4 (Showtime) that is also a fixed-grip quad.  Both are lifts from the base that beginners use a lot.  While they both still stop, most of the time now it’s because a beginner has trouble unloading.  Often it’s novice snowboarders that get tangled up on Lift 3 trying to load, not novice skiers.

6 months ago

Don’t ski Seven Springs real often, but was there one day last season and I thought the staff worked pretty hard to keep efficient loading on their 6-pack. 

 

I guess 6-packs can be good in the right situations.  Breckenridge is a very busy ski area and went for them in a big way.  I think Breckenridge now has five 6-packs.  I’ve skied Breck about eight or nine times in the last three years and have memories of awkward loadings and unloadings as people had a hard time getting all six bodies on/off the chair smoothly.  IIRC most of their 6-packs seemed to be at crowded base areas with lots of newbies in the mix.  One of them has conveyor loading indicative of loading difficulties.

6 months ago

Denis wrote:

I prefer to have lower lift capacity and better snow.  It’s not about crowding on the slopes so much as it is about the snow.  The major reason why the snow is so good at Mad River is that the fixed grip single chair is the only way to the top.  That, and they close the mountain for 24 hours after a rain event.  High lift capacity plus high snowmaking capacity makes hardpack and ice.  

My skier experience at Alta has been considerably degraded by the construction in recent years of high speed lifts including a 6 pack.  Alta is now tracked out by 11:00 on powder days.  It is now overrun with ‘powder locusts’, a term I heard from John L.  Go to Montana! 

This is a great point that I hadn’t thought of.  Maybe less of an issue if the lift is serving to access a large area (with lots of other lifts that people might lap), but definitely an issue in places like the mid-A where many people are just skiing the same runs near the same lift.  

6 months ago

I’m voting bad. I don’t like crowded slopes and its hard to have a 6 pack even in the west that doesn’t do that for me.  I like to find overlooked ski areas or overlooked pods in big ski areas.  A Riblet double is usually a good indicator of good terrain.  Down here there is not much overlooked anything outside of the entire Canaan Valley.  Several years ago my 9 near old daughter got a severe concussion when hit by a snowboarder on an overcrowded run out at Snowshoe.  I think Cupp Run is usually overcrowded.  Just call me grumpy.

6 months ago

marzNC wrote:

rbrtlav wrote:

As somebody that tries to ski early and late season, or midweek when possible I’ll take the high speed lifts any day. However I still believe for lifts that serve green trails the quads create a better experience than the 6. Due to the loading and unloading difficulties beginners face.

Have you skied at Wintergreen lately?  I haven’t been there for quite a while.  The few times I went on the weekend, I don’t remember the 6-pack for Dobie stopping that often because beginners were messing up loading.  The gates that separate the 6 people up next are staggered to help get people to the right spot and there isn’t that far to go between the gate and the pick up point.

 

 

I skied Wintergreen on Monday.  Blue Ridge Express was by far the busiest lift as usual being the connector bottleneck and right outside the mid mountain lodge.  It stopped twice the last time I rode it and took an eternity to get going again after the 2nd stop.

Also, I’m not sure what you mean by gates seperating the next people up.. It’s just a left turn from the lines to the alley that is aimed right at the loading ramp rught turn.  There are no staging gates on that lift.  You just watch the people in front of you go to the chair coming around and follow behind the chair they are loading on.. No gate, just on you to know when to move in to place for the next chair..

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

crgildart wrote:

I skied Wintergreen on Monday.  Blue Ridge Express was by far the busiest lift as usual being the connector bottleneck and right outside the mid mountain lodge.  It stopped twice the last time I rode it and took an eternity to get going again after the 2nd stop.

Also, I’m not sure what you mean by gates seperating the next people up.. It’s just a left turn from the lines to the alley that is aimed right at the loading ramp rught turn.  There are no staging gates on that lift.  You just watch the people in front of you go to the chair coming around and follow behind the chair they are loading on.. No gate, just on you to know when to move in to place for the next chair..

Hmm, been about 10 years since I skied at Wintergreen.  Maybe I’m thinking of other 6-packs I’ve loaded in the northeast since then.  I know there was one place with two stages of gates for a 6-pack.  Maybe at Hunter.  First an open gateway labeled 1-6 that was managed by a liftie but helped to get people pre-positioned.  The liftie could easily fill the gates from two singles lines.  Then a second automated set of gates that were timed to match up with the next chair.

Denis - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

Had a great day of powder skiing at Squaw on Friday following the biggest Sierra storm of the season thus far.  I’m halfway through my 70s and trying to get another season out of my failing knees before knee replacement.  If successful, it will be the same plan next year, and the next, etc.  While still having decent skills for big and bold lines, I lack the stamina to do much of it and fear injury.  But, there is a niche for every kind of skier if you can find it.  I took squaw’s ‘funitel’ (really a tram) to the upper mountain Gold Coast Area, which is mellow terrain served by high speed quad and 6 pack lifts.  I was stunned to see wide swaths of untracked and barely tracked powder at the sides of groomed boulevards.  Guess what?  The people who ride those lifts don’t ski powder.  I skied it for them, all day, correction, for a couple of hours until running out of gas.

The connection to this thread is that unskilled and tentative folks ride those high speed lifts.  I got between a beginner skier and a beginner snowboarder on a 6 pack and got knocked down exiting at the top.  A fall like that, where gear can get entangled, has the potential to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, or in this case a knee.  Fortunately it was an easy fall with no damage done.

6 months ago

Keep on gettin it Denis…hopefully you had someone to look up to like some of us you…sounds like you are using your head and not getting crazy out there..live to ski another day!…but..Im betting the crazy Devil in ya is trying to push you!…

Sooo…im hearing things like a six pack puts too many folks on the mtn and it gets shaved off and the solitary views are obstructed…`Tooo Busy!….or..you could have bankruptcy’s and closures due to not enough buisness…Hey…I wanted the best mountain in West Virginia up and running by now but DCSKI friggin went bizerk  saying we allready had 2 ski areas in the area that were just fine even though the area would double the vert and attract alot of “out west” skiers to hang local…..Posters said that the pristine area would be swamped with…SKIERS…go figure..obstructed view .crowded slopes..or no ski area!…Anyhoot…truth is always in the middle…4 pack is a must in any ski area trying to balance ski revenue and traffic….

Denis - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

“Anyhoot…truth is always in the middle…4 pack is a must in any ski area trying to balance ski revenue and traffic….”

You’re right Fish.  It cant be argued.  “We have met the enemy and he is us” - Pogo.

6 months ago

fishnski wrote:

..Hey…I wanted the best mountain in West Virginia up and running by now but DCSKI friggin went bizerk  saying we allready had 2 ski areas in the area that were just fine even though the area would double the vert and attract alot of “out west” skiers to hang local…..Posters said that the pristine area would be swamped with…SKIERS…go figure..obstructed view .crowded slopes..or no ski area!…Anyhoot..

LOL. I was just talking about you with Jim K last weekend at CVR.

Main reason MCP doesn’t exist was because Bright couldn’t buy up all the owners and lack of water. But I did point out MCP to Jim K. But stay crazy man, cuz we all need to be crazy in our own way.

6 months ago

you just drove me crazier with ur last East vs West post.!..good thing I know ur a nice guy cuz that post had a big ole F U from all us average Joes!..awesome you can pull that off…
Anyhoot..dont get me started with the lack of water  on MPC BS…next thing you will tell me is that there is Global Warming…geeeze,,,

PS  JimK….what JL showed you was  probably just some fingers running down off a 4000’ top..the 4800 top sits back in a nice Bowl that is hard to see…its a friggin Awesome Mountain!!!…..then there is the North bowl…sweet!….coulda..shoulda…

6 months ago

Only reason I can afford to spend as much money as I do on skiing is that I don’t have another expensive hobby, like fishing. And I dirt bag it a bit when I do ski. No Four Seasons or Deer Vallet for me. But I don’t go totall ski bum either. Middle of the road.

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