By NOAH BOSTROM/Montana State News
Two new triple-chair Alpine chairlifts are being installed to replace the 46-year-old 1967 Riblet double chair at Bridger Bowl. The new lifts are designed by SkyTRAK and will be installed with Chairkid loading carpets; the carpets will increase comfort and warmth.
This new installment marks the beginning of Bridger’s new focus on the intermediate and beginner skiers and snowboarders. “With two bigger lifts we can expect the skiers to get onto the hill that much faster,” ski instructor Shelby Rogala says.
The SkyTRAKs will originate from the same spot where the Riblet was and will increase accessibility to areas suitable for intermediate and novice skiers. There were many issues with the old system, especially regarding the avalanche-prone drop off terminal. Beginners and intermediate skiers were at risk.
“Not only physical injury risk but (they) also might grow to hate skiing. We want to help promote safe skiing.” says Rogala.
The Riblet is a center pole double chair, “which makes it very difficult for young skiers/riders to load, and makes it intimidating and uncomfortable for beginners of all ages” according to Bridger Bowl’s website
There is also the issue of wind susceptibility with the 40-pound Riblet chairs compared to the 150-pound SkyTRAKs. “If someone rode solo, the old lift would scare beginners with the swing.” Rogala says.
The New Alpine Lift No. 1will veer to the south of the current Alpine lift line and stop below the north end of the North Bowl. This lift will serve the Powder Park Run, Powder Puff, Powder Hog and Baby Bear ski runs.
The New Alpine Lift No. 2 will veer to the north of the current lift and stop at the top of Montagne’s Meadow. This lift will serve Montagne’s Meadow, Porcupine Run, Limestone and Bobcat ski runs.
These new locations will eliminate several economically unviable snow roads that are now interrupting the advanced skier’s paths. With the new lift’s placement, non-maintained terrain will be easily accessible.
Bridger Bowl sees this installment as uncompromising in the sense that “everyone wins, beginners get a smoother start, intermediates have faster access and experts get more ‘off the path’ space,” according to Bridger’s website.
Bridger often has the longest lift lines on the mountain on Alpine and the new lifts with triple the capacity (3,300 persons per hour vs. 1,100 persons per hour).
-Edited by Ben Havens