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What can be done about the lines at Ballhooter?
25 posts from 13 users
Updated 6 months ago
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6 months ago

So first let me say that a really like Snowshoe. It’s been my home mountain for the last couple years and it’s been great. Also, I realize that regulars have strategies for avoiding Ballhooter (and Powder Monkey) lifts, and I have used these strategies pretty effectively. So with that out of the way:

Are there any fixes Snowshoe can apply in the near future the reduce the lift lines at Ballhooter? I know that SS is attempting to get more skiers over to Silver Creek, but to be honest I am not sure if the existing shuttle system would be able to handle, say, a 20% increase in skier traffic. I have also wondered if Grabhammer lift could be extended somehow but I think you would run into issues with the placement of Skidder lift and Crosscut ski trail.

 

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

No suggestions but have a question.  Do you have a sense that the creation of the Ikon pass has increased the number of people at Snowshoe?

Lots of complaints out west of too many people at Ikon mountains.  But hard to tell which is the bigger factor.  The creation of Ikon or the continued snowstorms.  The complaints of crowded slopes, even midweek, are mostly from locations that are partners that have been on the MCP for several years.

6 months ago

Good question. Maybe some local (i.e. Mid-Atlantic) skiers would have opted for the Ikon instead of another local pass, thus increasing crowds. Can’t see someone with easy access to another Ikon resort choosing to come to Snowshoe specifically. I really don’t know how one would measure this.

Not relevant to this discussion, but a funny story from 2 saturdays ago. I was riding up Western Express at Snowshoe with a first-time rider who was raving about how great Snowshoe was. It was nice to hear, but the funny thing is that he was from California. He was visiting a friend in WV and came up to WV for the day. He was from SoCal, so a long way from Tahoe. I wonder if he will make his way to Tahoe eventually..

6 months ago

I’m guessing a few factors have played into things this year

-weather

-ikon

-snowmaking improvements/marketing that went with that

-timberline (although Canaan is the larger crowd gain)

I would be interested to know how many people that ski one or two weekends a year even consider ballhooter a problem. I’m guessing many people are more than content with 12-15 runs a day. I know some people complain about it on Facebook, but when people using 3 for all passes or 3 or less day tickets are content it won’t impact the bottom line as much as not having terrain open. (Snowmaking investment)

I think when I was there in January most of the tickets were 3 for all or other non season passes. There is definitely a fair amount of ikon passes, but I think the other factors have a bigger impact

 

6 months ago

Biggest crowds and lines in Mid Atlantic happen to be at the resort with the best conditions and most terrain open?  Humm, I have no idea what can be done about that..

6 months ago

I’ve said it before, I but I think you need to turn Ballhooter into a 6 pack.

6 months ago

Build the gondola to Silvercreek!

6 months ago

Bonzski wrote:

Build the gondola to Silvercreek!

Ha! I was thinking the same thing while waiting 30 minutes for a shuttle back to SC on Saturday! To be fair it was sorta my fault, we got to the stop at Western a bit too close to 4:30. Anyway it is hard to imagine a gondola actually being built but it is fun to dream.
6 months ago

rbrtlav wrote:

I would be interested to know how many people that ski one or two weekends a year even consider ballhooter a problem. 

That’s a very good point.  

6 months ago

I wish they would make it really easy to hop over to the grabhammer base.  It’s not far but there is no good path.  They could also start running a shuttle van down there after 1pm for people just going back to their condos.  Then extend that road to Widowmaker (yes I said it) for the same.  That doesn’t get croded but you could ride it up and take the shuttle rather than going back down to Balhooter.  

6 months ago

pagamony wrote:

I wish they would make it really easy to hop over to the grabhammer base.  It’s not far but there is no good path.  They could also start running a shuttle van down there after 1pm for people just going back to their condos.  Then extend that road to Widowmaker (yes I said it) for the same.  That doesn’t get croded but you could ride it up and take the shuttle rather than going back down to Balhooter.  

Grabhammer lift is above elevation from BH but certainly hikable.  Can walk out the road past boathouse and get there.  I typically stop at Flume intersection & check BH crowds…when deep it’s easy to turn left on Flume to GH.

Road already continues on to Widowmaker.

I live in Pittsburgh and ski mostly at 7Springs. A group of about 15 of us have been alternating 3-day ski trips between Holiday Valley and Snowshoe, since they are about equal distances from here. We came down January 26-28 this year.

 

We love Snowshoe, they put out a ton of snow, they groom it well, the Western Territory is a blast, and it’s a hoot riding up the lifts with people from the southeast! That said, the lines at Ballhooter, Widowmaker and even on the Western Territory were a lot longer this year, and we’ve decided to start going to Holiday Valley twice, then Showshoe once, etc. The lines at 7Springs have been totally fine for the past 2 or 3 years, not nothing, but reasonable.

 

6 months ago

I don’t think a lot can be done about improving the situation at ballhooter so I think you have to look elsewhere. I think if you upgrade powdermonkey to a high speed you can at least spread the crowds out a little better. Only question is if the landing area up top would (or even could) be expanded to better accommodate larger crowds now being dropped in faster than before. 

6 months ago

Reisen wrote:

I’ve said it before, I but I think you need to turn Ballhooter into a 6 pack.

Ok, no one bit.

  • Ballhooter has plenty of room at the base to expand to a 6 pack.
  • Ballhooter has room at the top to expand.  Traffic can go both directions, and there is no uphill traffic to complicate offloading.  They would need to do a better job about clearing the crowds at the top that hang there due to getting cell service, or trying to decide if they want to take a break.  But the top of Soaring Eagle is even worse.
  • People say the slopes are already overcrowded and adding uphill capacity will exaggerate it.  I don’t see it.  Ballhooter feeds a ton of runs.  Hootenany, Knot Bumper (which few people take due to the entrance), Ballhooter, Grabhammer, Skip Jack, and Spruce.  Ballhooter and Grabhammer are usually due to the lines on the Ballhooter lift.  All of those runs could hold a lot more traffic compared to the the traffic on the rest of the mountain, especially Powder Monkey, Whistlepunk, and Widowmaker.  
6 months ago

dt3 wrote:

I don’t think a lot can be done about improving the situation at ballhooter so I think you have to look elsewhere. I think if you upgrade powdermonkey to a high speed you can at least spread the crowds out a little better. Only question is if the landing area up top would (or even could) be expanded to better accommodate larger crowds now being dropped in faster than before. 

I think Powder Monkey’s bigger challenge is the 50 yards immediately downhill from the lift (on the basin side) is fairly narrow and pretty steep, and challenges newer skiers.  But I do agree the lift could/should be upgraded.

I don’t think this would do a ton for the lines at Ballhooter, though.  I think the lines are so long because it is a necessary lift to get to/from Soaring Eagle and Top of the World.

6 months ago

Reisen wrote:

  • Ballhooter has room at the top to expand.  Traffic can go both directions, and there is no uphill traffic to complicate offloading.  

Except for those of us using grabhammer lift and then hiking uphill to avoid using Ballhooter lift…I guess that is not enough to make a difference. I agree the traffic at Ballhooter is enough to support a six pack. I also agree that the runs served by Ballhooter are not as crowded as some of the other runs, but a sixpack would probably lead to more traffic at the various places where the runs intersect with flume.

6 months ago

Reisen wrote:

I think Powder Monkey’s bigger challenge is the 50 yards immediately downhill from the lift (on the basin side) is fairly narrow and pretty steep, and challenges newer skiers.  But I do agree the lift could/should be upgraded.

I don’t think this would do a ton for the lines at Ballhooter, though.  I think the lines are so long because it is a necessary lift to get to/from Soaring Eagle and Top of the World.

Powder Monkey lift should be upgraded, if for no other reason than it is the primary means of accessing Snowshoe’s flagship runs on the Western side. But it would not help much with the lines of Ballhooter - a reasonably competent skier is not going to want to spend much time on the runs served by the PM lift, unless they are with a mixed ability group (to be fair, I guess this is not really that uncommon of an occurrence).

6 months ago

wgo wrote:

Powder Monkey lift should be upgraded, if for no other reason than it is the primary means of accessing Snowshoe’s flagship runs on the Western side.

The landing area from PM lift is quite small and wouldn’t support an increase in traffic coming off the lift. So, an upgrade will have to include moving the upper terminal…towards Toques and higher up would be ideal

Btw you can avoid the PM lift to access WT. Simply take Skidder to top of Heisler (patrol HQ - bottom of Shavers cntr).  Then a short walk towards parking lot and right on path through trees to top PM terminal.

6 months ago

dt3 wrote:

I don’t think a lot can be done about improving the situation at ballhooter so I think you have to look elsewhere. I think if you upgrade powdermonkey to a high speed you can at least spread the crowds out a little better. Only question is if the landing area up top would (or even could) be expanded to better accommodate larger crowds now being dropped in faster than before.

Upgrading to a high speed quad doesn’t change the uphill capacity of a lift vs fixed grip, unless you’re going from something like a fixed grip triple to a detachable quad.  The surprising thing is a high speed quad vs a fixed grip is that the uphill capacity is more or less identical due to the loading interval.  Humans can only handle about a 5 or 6 second interval between chairs at best - anything faster can cause problems and backups due to having to stop the lift for falls, etc.  Detachable chairs also have more space in between each chair due to the higher rope speed, so while you get up to the top faster, you have fewer chairs going up.  The main thing a detachable chair does is get people up the hill quicker.  This is great on longer distance chairs.  The wait at the bottom will change very little.

This fact is why you won’t see anything more than fixed grips at smaller places like Roundtop and Liberty.  Roundtop said that if they put in detachable quads that lines would back up even more since their runs are fairly short.  The slower fixed grip actually helps keep people spaced out more and helps with shorter lines in their situation.  We had this discussion with RT on FB this pre-season when they were teasing next year’s expansion.  The only place a detachable would make sense at RT is if they ever do the expansion down the west side, and run the lift up to near the top of Minuteman.  That would be nearly a mile and cover 700’ feet so that could merit a detachable.

6 months ago

Bonzski wrote:

wgo wrote:

Powder Monkey lift should be upgraded, if for no other reason than it is the primary means of accessing Snowshoe’s flagship runs on the Western side.

The landing area from PM lift is quite small and wouldn’t support an increase in traffic coming off the lift. So, an upgrade will have to include moving the upper terminal…towards Toques and higher up would be ideal

Btw you can avoid the PM lift to access WT. Simply take Skidder to top of Heisler (patrol HQ - bottom of Shavers cntr).  Then a short walk towards parking lot and right on path through trees to top PM terminal.

For sure, that is my go to method of accessing WT. Often I just go straight from the top of GH lift to the back of shavers center. There’s really not that much uphill to deal with in that direction.

6 months ago

superguy wrote:

This fact is why you won’t see anything more than fixed grips at smaller places like Roundtop and Liberty.  Roundtop said that if they put in detachable quads that lines would back up even more since their runs are fairly short.  The slower fixed grip actually helps keep people spaced out more and helps with shorter lines in their situation.  We had this discussion with RT on FB this pre-season when they were teasing next year’s expansion.  The only place a detachable would make sense at RT is if they ever do the expansion down the west side, and run the lift up to near the top of Minuteman.  That would be nearly a mile and cover 700’ feet so that could merit a detachable.

Interesting. That would also apply to the Big Acron lift at wintergreen - the trails served there are only 500-600 feet of vert. The other 2 main lifts at WTG are of the high speed variety.

Going back to Ballhooter, I would think that replacing a high speed quad with a high speed sixpack would have to help with lines, unless there was some indirect impact like having even more people try to use the lift.

Scott - DCSki Editor
6 months ago

superguy wrote:

This fact is why you won’t see anything more than fixed grips at smaller places like Roundtop and Liberty.  Roundtop said that if they put in detachable quads that lines would back up even more since their runs are fairly short.  The slower fixed grip actually helps keep people spaced out more and helps with shorter lines in their situation.  We had this discussion with RT on FB this pre-season when they were teasing next year’s expansion.  The only place a detachable would make sense at RT is if they ever do the expansion down the west side, and run the lift up to near the top of Minuteman.  That would be nearly a mile and cover 700’ feet so that could merit a detachable.

Good point, and that’s not the only reason.  The cost of a high-speed lift (both up front and in terms of ongoing maintenance) is substantially higher than a fixed grip.  Fixed grip lifts have relatively few parts and can last more than 40 years with minimal maintenance costs.  The only reason Whitetail has a high-speed quad is because the original investors (back in 1990) didn’t understand the long-term economics of day areas in the Mid-Atlantic, or they were expecting Whitetail to quickly become a full-fledged, year-round destination resort, which never happened.  As a consequence, they took a financial bath, but we skiers got a nice high-speed quad out of it.  I don’t think we’ll ever see a high-speed lift at Liberty or Roundtop.  (I don’t think Wisp has any high-speed lifts either, do they?  Just Seven Springs, Snowshoe, Whitetail, Wintergreen, and maybe one or two others?)

I’m not sure whether Ballhooter at Snowshoe could be easily converted to a six pack (are the towers and footers rated for the extra weight?  Do the cross-arms provide enough clearance?  etc.), but that’s an interesting idea.  Whether Snowshoe cares about Ballhooter crowding and would want to invest money there (vs. other places) is an open question.

6 months ago

Good thread with lots of interest, so here’s my two cents since this topic is pretty important.  First off, the upgrade of PM lift is and has been #1 rated request of guests for several years that SS has been gathering customer input on “what can we improve”.  Snowmaking investment first was the right answer (more to come with pump upgrade this summer) The answer indeed is a HS chair at PM and upgraded HS chair at BH (and SC)

First for PM, install a high speed 4 or 6, whichever traffic metrics tell them and put a bridge and tunnel under Heisler and allow skiers a consistent fall line to skier’s left coming off the lift and heading down the new unchoked Choker!  (Then put some bumps on one side and groom the rest).  Pay for the upgrade by putting a big Snowshoe moniker on the bridge-it would be a marketing photo image for the mountain (until the Gondy is built)

For BH, simply upgrade to 6 pack, no brainer.  

Then, add another HS chair that goes from base of Silver Creek Sugar Shack to top of Flying Eagle lift.  This will help balance the crowds and make the snowmaking at SC worth the cost.

 

6 months ago

By Jove I have it!   Replace Grabhammer with a new HSQ from the base of Balhooter up to several yards north of the existing Grahammer top.  That would clear people out to most of the resort and provide backup in case BH goes down.  Improve and open the connector over to GH trail from the new GH lift (why do they block that access now?), and another connector from the existing GH base slightly downhill to the new GH/BH base.  That last connector would get poeple from PM base over to Boathouse without a lift ride.  You don’t have to run new GH on weekdays with low crowds, and you don’t have to replace the good BH lift.  Regrade the top so it is easier to skate from the top of GH over to Skidder and the day lodge, which is possible but a bit of a pain right now.  Genius !  

New Grabhammer

6 months ago

Scott wrote:

superguy wrote:

This fact is why you won’t see anything more than fixed grips at smaller places like Roundtop and Liberty.  Roundtop said that if they put in detachable quads that lines would back up even more since their runs are fairly short.  The slower fixed grip actually helps keep people spaced out more and helps with shorter lines in their situation.  We had this discussion with RT on FB this pre-season when they were teasing next year’s expansion.  The only place a detachable would make sense at RT is if they ever do the expansion down the west side, and run the lift up to near the top of Minuteman.  That would be nearly a mile and cover 700’ feet so that could merit a detachable.

Good point, and that’s not the only reason.  The cost of a high-speed lift (both up front and in terms of ongoing maintenance) is substantially higher than a fixed grip.  Fixed grip lifts have relatively few parts and can last more than 40 years with minimal maintenance costs.  The only reason Whitetail has a high-speed quad is because the original investors (back in 1990) didn’t understand the long-term economics of day areas in the Mid-Atlantic, or they were expecting Whitetail to quickly become a full-fledged, year-round destination resort, which never happened.  As a consequence, they took a financial bath, but we skiers got a nice high-speed quad out of it.  I don’t think we’ll ever see a high-speed lift at Liberty or Roundtop.  (I don’t think Wisp has any high-speed lifts either, do they?  Just Seven Springs, Snowshoe, Whitetail, Wintergreen, and maybe one or two others?)

I’m not sure whether Ballhooter at Snowshoe could be easily converted to a six pack (are the towers and footers rated for the extra weight?  Do the cross-arms provide enough clearance?  etc.), but that’s an interesting idea.  Whether Snowshoe cares about Ballhooter crowding and would want to invest money there (vs. other places) is an open question.

Good point.  I know detachables are more expensive than fixed grips, though I’m not sure about current prices on either set.  I just know that the detachables run into the millions.  But yeah, the higher maintenance costs make sense for the detachable as there’s a lot more sensors and moving parts, as well as stuff running faster. So I can imagine parts wearing out more and needing inspection and replacement more often.

It’s kinda surprising to see how much of a secondary market there is for used lifts.   I often read about lifts at certain resorts once being at others.  I know LM’s quad was a refurb, and Liberty’s supposed to be adding a refurbed triple this summer for their front side terrain parks.

In thinking about what you said some more, and also thinking about the RT expansion discussion, I’m thinking you’re right about no detachables in the future at Liberty or RT. Liberty they make absolutely no sense.  For one to be remotely viable at RT, it would have to from the bottom of the west side up to Minuteman.  That would give it the length and vertical to make sense, but the only way down from there to any expansion would be on Barrett’s.  That’s too narrow and icy for most intermediates, so a new trail would have to be cut to get down there. I doubt that’s feasible.  More likely would be a lift to the top of Drummer Boy, which wouldn’t necessitate a quad.

I think WT’s detachable works as the main front side lift, but I don’t think another would make sense with the current terrain.  Even at 7S, I’m not sure that the front side 6 pack was really that necessary.  The ride’s extremely short, and it used to be a fixed grip quad back in the day.  It may be that 6 packs are only detachable, and the added capacity was definitely needed for clearing out the front side.

I don’t mind the slower lifts.  I’m out of shape so I need the rest. :D

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