The Zephyr Express replacement caps nearly $30 million in capital improvements at the Colorado ski area.
Winter Park Resort will replace the Zephyr Express chairlift with a new 10-person gondola for the 2018–2019 winter season. The replacement comes as part of $28.2 million in capital improvements coming this year. Other additions include the first phase of a complete overhaul of Winter Park’s snowmaking system, increased lift maintenance, snowcats, and 21 acres of logging in Eagle Wind Territory to improve glade skiing.
Winter Park Gondola
The gondola will increase uphill capacity to 3,600 guests per hour, Winter Park said in a press release. It will decrease lift line wait times by 15 minutes during peak season.
The lift will begin at the main base area of Winter Park and deliver guests to the Lodge at Sunspot.
The Leitner-Poma gondola carries a price tag of $16 million. It uses a direct drive electric motor, which Winter Park claims is a “cutting edge energy saving” system.
The gondola will be Winter Park’s first on-mountain lift installation since the Panoramic Express was added in 2007.
Winter Park Upgrades
In addition to the new gondola, Winter Park will upgrade its antiquated 42-year-old snowmaking system with new energy-efficient components, pipe replacement, and high-tech snowmaking guns. The $4 million system will ideally allow Winter Park to open additional terrain earlier each season.
Accompanying the big-ticket additions, Winter Park will also invest heavily in maintenance with significant earmarks geared for lift upkeep, grooming equipment, and snow guns.
Loggers will cut glades in 21 acres of the Eagle Wind Territory. The resort claims this will improve skiing while contributing to the overall health of the forest by removing dead and dying timber to promote revegetation.
These improvements follow the park’s acquisition by Alterra Mountain Company. Alterra announced it will spend $130 million across its 12 resort destinations for 2018–2019 and $110 million each subsequent year.
Winter Park is also part of the new Ikon Pass, a season pass that now rivals Vail’s Epic Pass with many ski resorts in North America and beyond available to single pass holders.