Monday, February 13, 2017

Fixed Grip versus Detachable

Why are we choosing a fixed grip lift for The Beavers? This was a significant question. Both types of lifts would be very effective for this location. Obviously, the installation of A-Basin's first detachable chairlift, the Black Mountain Express, has been a huge success. We have also seen great success with new and old fixed grip lifts like Zuma and Pallavicini.

Financial - While still measured in the "millions of dollars", a fixed grip lift is about half the price of a detachable lift.

Installation and Maintenance - Without road access, installation and maintenance is difficult for any lift. A detachable lift is the most difficult without road access. In the lift world, more difficult also means more expensive.

Wind - Occasionally, the A-Basin Summit is just a tad bit windy. We think a fixed grip lift in this location will have less wind related downtime than a detachable lift.

Our Guests - Most of our guests don't mind fixed grip lifts. I enjoy riding a detachable lift as much or more than the next guy, but by reviewing our attendance and our guest surveys, there does not seem to be much evidence that having fixed grip lifts is hurting our business. Plus, a little rest and a little longer conversation with your friend or spouse is always good.

According to liftblog.com there were 35 chairlift installed in the US and Canada in 2016. 27 of those lifts were fixed grip. By the way, for ski area technology nerds like me, liftblog.com is a really fun website.

Many of our guests and employees have suggested upgrading Lenawee to a detachable lift. I think that is a good idea. I suspect that in a few years, after we finish our current slate of projects, we will get serious about addressing that suggestion.


13 comments:

Peter Landsman said...

Great points Al and thanks for the shout out. Looking forward to following your progress on this exciting new lift. -Peter, liftblog.com

Anonymous said...

I mean a chairlift is ok......but I think a ski bus would be much more fitting to A-Basin's character

http://snowbrains.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/il_fullxfull.315769044.jpg

Matt Silton said...

Any hope for a bottom-to-top frontside lift in my lifetime? I would go to Abay at least 5-10 more times per season if I could get all the way up without having to ride both Black Mountain and Lenawee. It forces you to choose between a) having a short run and b) riding two lifts. Is this a crowd control measure to make sure the slopes don't get too bottlenecked? It seems like you guys are doing just fine without this kind of lift, but I can't help but think it would be really nice to have.

Anonymous said...

Why not move Lenawee to the Beavers and then replace Lenawee with a detachable? Kill two birds with one stone. I probably didn't participate in the guest survey since I frequent Abasin less due to Lenawee not being a detachable. Was the survey performed on property? If so the absence of such visitors due to lack of detachable for Lenawee may impact results.

Dale Furry said...

Sweet!

Alan Henceroth - COO said...

Thanks Peter. I am a big fan of liftblog.com.

. said...

Don't ever call it ABay again. Your fired. Regards, Larry Grossman

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I new I was enjoying someone else's powder. I just didn't know who.

Anonymous said...

Hi Al--can you please comment on why lift covers are/were not considered for this lift. Seems like with all the wind at A-basin a covered lift makes a lot of sense?

Anonymous said...

What's the new Pali lift going to be?

Ryan Shea said...

Hi Al thanks for that explanation, much appreciated. Though you didn't have to explain your decision, your transparency goes a long way and makes us appreciate your management, leadership and consistent communication to your customers. Also pretty excited for the expansion.

Though I live in the east coast i am a huge Abasin fan and always check out your blog before trips to CO to see what's really going on with conditions. No other resort gives this info, so thank you for all you do.
Ryan

Anonymous said...

When I first saw that Beavers would have fixed grip, I immediately thought wind. Thanks for going through the whole decision process.

I also agree that Lenawee should be upgraded to detachable when the future allows.

Anonymous said...

I think it depends how long of a lift this will be...difficult to tell when just looking at a schematic. If it is a long lift I think it should be a detachable. I looked at the liftblog website that you provided and think you have to look at more than just the absolute numbers that you quoted. Many of these fixed grip lifts are in the midwest/east. Others in Mexico and the Caribbean so are obviously scenic. Some are even used lifts. Some of the fixed grip lifts installed in the west are beginner terrain or very short lifts. It appears that most western resorts that are building top to bottom lifts are installing high speed quads.

As far as cost/construction I do believe that this would cost extra, and it is easy for me to say build a detachable because I am not directly paying for it (although ultimately the customers are paying for it). Maybe the extra cost does not appear worth it to the CEO, but I think in the long run having more detachable quad chairlifts would mean more skier visits. Abasin is a retro ski area, and will continue to have this feel even if we have improved lifts!