Friday, October 22, 2010

Black Mountain Express Quesions

I have had a couple of really good questions about crowding early season trails with the new lift. Great questions and easy to answer. Simply, in the beginning of the season, we will turn the lift speed down a little bit so the number of people unloading the chair will be about the same as it was with Exhibition Lift.

Without sounding too much like a techie "lift nerd" there are a few concepts to understand. A lift has a design capacity and it has actual realized capacity. Old Exhibition had a design capacity of 1800 people per hour. In the very early season, Exhbition riders are very experienced lift users. We rarely hit a slow or stop button due to skier error. During that time of year actual realized capacity was about 1700-1800 people per hour. Black Mountain Express has a design capacity of 2000 people per hour. We will simply turn the lift speed down to 85-90% (1700-1800 people per hour) and the number of people on the trail will be just about the same.

Now the real benefit of Black Mountain Express will come into play once we are past these first few weeks of the season. Once more terrain and lifts are open, the more experienced skiers spread out around the mountain. Old Exhibition and, now, Black Mountain priamrily serve green and blue skiers. These riders are often just learning how to ski and require more slows and stops with the lift. Because of these slows and stops the actual realized capacity on Exhbition was closer to 1300 people per hour. Because detachable lifts are so much easier to load and unload for people learning to ski, we anticipate way fewer stops and slows. Because of this, we hope to see an actual realized capacity of 1700-2000 people per hour. Plus, the ride will be only 3 minutes. I think people will like that. All those slows and stops tend to drive me nuts. We think the new lift will be much nicer.

That was a little long. Hopefully, a few of you like that kind of detail. For the rest of you, sorry and I hope I didn't put you to sleep.


Anonymous said...

Why are there so many fewer chairs (52) on the new lift relative to the old lift (118). I would think you could space the chairs as close or closer since they slow to load/unload.

Can you add lift capacity in the future simply by adding chairs?

I would think when you go triple to quad and double the speed your capacity should go up by 166%.

Alan Henceroth - COO and Vice President said...

Another good question. You might have to pull out some algebra to really make it clear, but here are a few thoughts. The wire rope (also called haul rope or cable) with a detachable moves at about twice the speed. The actual loading interval (in seconds) between chairs on Black Mountain Express is actually over a second longer than on Exhibition. The space between the chairs (in feet) is more than twice the distance on BMX as it was on Exo.

With that said, all the variables are completely different with the above ones being important.

At loading and unloading, the chair is actually moving around the terminals on a system detached from the haul rope. In the terminals the chairs are moving at a speed much slower than with a fixed grip lift.

OK here is my feeble attempt at algebra.

capacity per chair x rope speed x minutes per hour x chair spacing = lift capacity


4 people/chair x 1000 ft/min. x 60 min./hour x 1 chair/120 ft =
2000 people per hour.

Somebody better check my math.

Skg said...

I take this as meaning that wait time at the bottom won't change much, but the actual ride time will be much faster - meaning that the same number of people will be on the slope, and we spend less time riding the chair.

pete said...

your fact i'm doing geometry right now (i'v done algebra) and it looks fine to me. :)

question...when you guys originally had the idea for an HSQ did it ever occur that during the middle of the season the lines would be shorter if you had a 6man lift instead of a quad?? also if you were to replace another lift in the next 5-10 years would it be pali?

Alan Henceroth - COO and Vice President said...

SKG, very early season the line won't change much. The rest of the season should see a big reduction in lines.

Pete, we reviewed just about every possible configuration that was close to what we needed, fixed triple, fixed quad, fixed quad with conveyer, gondola, and 6-pack. The biggest design parameter is capacity. We determined our desired capacity and chose the lift that fits the needs best and that the public would like the most.

Asking me a question about replacing Pali is sure to create fodder for the rumor mill. I'll try not to put my foot in my mouth. The next lift we replace will probably be Pali. I don't know when, but I would give the range of 3-10 years. She is still running extremely well, but the old girl is getting some miles on her. Our plans are to replace that old fixed grip double chair with a new fixed grip double chair.

LightHeaded said...

Al -
Very informative; thanks. Also noted that you're already way ahead of previous years with blog activity - this is good.
Re: capacity after the snow actually falls. Opening Lenawee at 8:30 on wkends would spread skiers faster or is there some logistic reason for the delay.
Looking ahead with optimizm - pls consider this a request to grade the snow & ice on the uphill from Lenawee chr to Montezuma lip to eliminate the downhill cant as much as possible and make skating uphill that much easier for the elderly and arthritic.

Anonymous said...

I have an unrelated question, but on the webcams currently you can see lights shining below the deck. Is that by any chance snow guns working on that area?

Anonymous said...

Another question from same Anonymous.

If I made big decisions at A-Basin, I would have made BMX go to the top and have a midway load/unload station so that about half the terrain would be served by a high speed lift.

Is this possible or was it ever considered?

BMX seems crazy short for a high speed lift.

Matt said...

How do you feel about an EC resort, Sunday River, opening before you guys?

Anonymous said...

All that money in a lift and it still doesn't go to the top. I feel like that wasn't a good call. I hear the reasoning is for beginners...? Who in they're right mind would come to the basin to learn to ski??? FAIL

Steve said...

I know for a fact that many people come to the Basin to learn to ski and ride. Their Snowsports School is the largest department and top-notch. Maybe you could use a lesson? I know some amazing instructors.

Alan Henceroth - COO and Vice President said...

Lots of good questions.

We open all lifts at 9 AM seven days a week except Black Mountain Express and Pallavicini. They open at 8:30AM weekends and holidays. Some people start showing up earlier on these days and we think the two lifts cover the very real, but relatively light demand for that extra half hour.

Good comment about the trail from Lenawee Lift to Montezuma Bowl. It is slightly uphill. We manage the snow with cats. With ever changing snow, the exact pitch may vary from day to day. It is uphill. What do you think about a rope tow along that road?

The webcams usually take the last image of the afternoon and that is the evening photo. We figured looking at black screen was not very helpful. By request, however, we have left one on at night to monitor snowmaking.

We considered running Black Mountain Express to the top. It is a great idea. Unfortunately, the numbers didn't work. It would have been another 4 million bucks. No can do. We chose a detachable for lots of reasons including, shorter lines, shorter ride, easier to load, easier to unload, easier to download, people like detachables, better for beginners, and more.

We always like to open first, but are very happy that Sunday River and Loveland are open. Winning the race is nice, but the real prize is getting open.

LightHeaded said...

Re: Uphill to Zuma. It's the camber of the path that bugs me more than the uphill angle. It's hard to push off when one ski is higher up than the other - i.e. the path is tilted downhill on the horizontal axis.
Rope tow? Interesting idea - and probably not for the first uphill part but definitely for getting up on the ridge. Maybe a Poma rather than a rope. Good for the prostate if nothing else.

LightHeaded said...

Re: Sunday River opening. Most major EC areas could run an entire season without a single natural snowflake - THAT is snowmaking capacity.
I recall Killington Vt opening around October 3rd one year. They also start blowing snow from the top (where it's colder) down. You ride to the top, ski down to mid-station loading - etc. etc. As I recall they'd lay down an exit ribbon of MM but it wasn't for skiing

Alan Henceroth - COO and Vice President said...

A couple of days ago there was a question about lights under the deck. Last night I looked at the webcam after dark and I think I better understand the question. We have an equipment / utility room below the deck that has a light next to the door. The snowmaking lights are further up the hill.

PG said...

That's great that you thought of the beginner and intermediate skiers that will be using the new lift... too bad the High Divide Terrain Parks essentially makes one of your two easy runs unusable for families with young children. We stopped skiing at Arapahoe because we felt that Sundance was not a safe run for our children to be on. (We saw boarder do a back flip off the lip!) Really a shame because we had been season pass holders for 15 years and we loved all the new terrain on the backside.

So, Steve, while you may have amazing instructers (and both my kids took lessons,) I would never call A-Basin a family friendly area. It's just not the focus. It may be fine for older beginners and intermediates.

LightHeaded said...

Al - I just noticed your remark about black screens at night. True enough. And if one or more wasn't really black it could be quite useful. I usually post something to my website and weather blogs late at night and I do try to find cams that let me see actual snowflakes and conditions. I'd probably even spring for a light - maybe IR (most digital cameras can pick up IR and UV). I'll mention it next time I see you.

Alan Henceroth - COO and Vice President said...

Hi PG. I am sorry to hear that you are no longer skiing A-Basin. I would very much like to talk with you personally about this. I am very easy to track down at The Basin, either in person, on the phone, or via email.

We do our best to be a family friendly area. Our kids' programs are some of our most popular activities. We created the High Divide Park to meet requests for small terrain park features for kids and adults just getting into the park scene. I would like to hear more from you and hope you will contact me.

Unknown said...

Why is it ya have walk up to get zuma, seems like bad design,