Copper, CO 12-30-18

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Copper, CO 12-30-18

Postby EMSC » Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:29 am

Fun but tiring.

Long story, but I was skiing alone and just trying to finish off a cold after 10 days. I arrived late (10:15 by the time I was on a lift), but skied 'non-stop' for more than 5 hours before quitting around 3:30p. Weather was mixed with warm and sun to start, but then clouds and flurries in the afternoon. Basically everything is open - well except the new 6 pack American Flyer lift which has yet to run this season. I hope someone was smart enough to put contractual commitments on the manufacturer... Otherwise what a disaster for the Copper team to still have a major lift down all season so far.

Anyway conditions were mostly rather good. A bit of the typical hardpack with fluff on most of the groomers where I spent all of about 1 1/2 runs all day. A bit of firm areas on the lower portion of Copper Bowl as well, but not fully melt/refrozen. More like combo wind/chalk/hardpack. much of the upper was softer.

Coverage was excellent for this time of year. Definitely are some 'bones' around to be found, but also not a super ton of them either. It's clear that at least some of the storms this year have come from unusual directions as some areas have less fill then you'd expect (very middle of Union bowl), but many other areas are as well covered as I've ever seen them.

As to my day I went up Super B to the Tbar and down Spaulding bowl/trees to Resolution. TBar lines were fairly long so I opted to take Lillie G traverse into Copper bowl instead of any more Spaulding laps.

Tucker cat was running (has to be one of the earliest years for Tucker Cat), so I jumped in line and got lucky. Two people in front of me decided with only one cat running (usually have 2) that the wait was too long and left. About 3 minutes later the cat came giving me a good count on if I would make the next cat... The smaller cat was running and I looked to be number 10 out of 10: Cha-Ching. Given that I had packed a lunch in my jacket, I proceeded to eat lunch during the 20 minute round trip wait and was just finishing when the cat came back. So last on-first off service, albeit with a 30 minute hike up Tucker. For the first time in a couple years I took the early line of "the Taco" which is the chute style run that you get to first on Tucker. Very nice but dense wind-sift into fresh. I sank in probably 4-6" of super softness. Defintely a quality over quantity decision.

I then did a couple laps in Copper bowl along the west ridge before the clouds started coming in and making the light very flat. At which point I proceeded to hit several laps in Union bowl which despite the same alpine environment the light was less flat and easier to see - not sure how that managed to be, but it worked for me. Eventually heading back to the base as the upper mtn shut down at 3:30p.

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Spaulding bowl early


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Patrol Chute - and yes several rocks in there


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looking back at Spaulding Bowl


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from top of Lillie G


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At least 6 of the cat riders were noobs who had no idea where to go/what to do


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heading down from the first knoll before the final hike on Tucker


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about to head down the Taco


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if you blow this up and then zoom in more you'll find a Para-penter just above the top of the final Tbar tower just right of center. Never seen one at Copper previously. He had excellent lift from the breeze blowing in the next storm.


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The yet to operate new 6 pack American Flyer... obviously a bubble chair


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Early squalls of the incoming cold front/storm
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Re: Copper, CO 12-30-18

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Jan 01, 2019 5:08 pm

Doesn't look bad at all. What's the deal with the inoperative new lift -- are they giving an official reason for why it's not running?
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Re: Copper, CO 12-30-18

Postby EMSC » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:48 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:Doesn't look bad at all. What's the deal with the inoperative new lift -- are they giving an official reason for why it's not running?


Def not bad; In fact pretty good. But little new snow recently means things are getting firmer daily off-piste. Central Colo needs some refresher snowfalls soon to keep things soft (western/southern Colo has had better recent snows).

As to the lift the excuses/reasons, they have changed several times. Back in Nov it was key components coming from Europe that hadn't arrived, then it was waiting for the Colo tramway board folks to show up and approve it, the latest from their twitter feed was:
"Unexpected complications related to the lift automation software have caused delays to the opening of American Flyer. We expect these programming malfunctions to be resolved within days and allow the project to get back on schedule."


I heard through the grapevine that several high up ops folks have been let go over the new lift debacles at Copper. Their other new lift, a "chondola" didn't open till after Thanksgiving giving them exactly zero lifts out of the main center village over that long holiday weekend. Which feels like a rather big Yikes for a major resort.

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Four 6-pack chairs then one gondola cabin for the new American Eagle lift. It is a weird feeling when in the gondola cabin and a group of skiers "chases" your cabin out so they can get on the chair behind you.
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Re: Copper, CO 12-30-18

Postby ChrisC » Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:39 pm

Were there any significant queues over the holidays without the American Flyer open? Seems like it would more difficult to criss-cross the mountain and might disperse crowds in strange ways.

Also, Winter Park had significant delays on their Gondola - another Ikon resort. I read that Ikon wants to replace the Steamboat gondola next year - hopefully there are lessons learned.

Vail also did not get the new Blackcomb gondola open till mid December - an issue this year when the only skiing was up high early on.

It's always been a mystery to me that lift installations don't really seem to start in earnest until August/Sept. Very little buffer. Can't resorts commit earlier and lift manufacturers speed up the process - especially for key lifts - and new technologies?
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Re: Copper, CO 12-30-18

Postby egieszl » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:58 pm

The two new lifts at Copper and the one at Winter Park use Leitner-Poma's new direct drive technology. There were delays apparently in obtaining critical components which delayed the opening of all three lifts. Most Colorado built lifts were delayed in part due to the lack of helicopter time this summer due to all of the fires.

The circumstances surrounding these lifts are somewhat unique and not indicative of the future of new lifts.

Watching the webcams the lines at American Eagle have been much shorter this year, so the increase in uphill capacity has paid off and especially considering the fact that American Flyer has not opened.

Steamboat will be using Doppelmayr to upgrade the gondola. It's not a true replacement, but more of an upgrade to get the added speed of 6 m/s instead of 5. They already did a significant upgrade to the gondola recently. Phase two will include new cabins, towers, and drives, replacement of some other components.
2018-19 ski season stats- Vertical: 526,029, Days: 27, Lift rides: 319, Top day vertical: 38,370;
Total past 12 seasons- Vertical: 13,318,068, Days: 529, Lift rides: 8,374, Top day vert: 64,867;
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Re: Copper, CO 12-30-18

Postby EMSC » Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:12 pm

egieszl wrote:The circumstances surrounding these lifts are somewhat unique and not indicative of the future of new lifts.

Watching the webcams the lines at American Eagle have been much shorter this year, so the increase in uphill capacity has paid off and especially considering the fact that American Flyer has not opened.


ChrisC wrote:Were there any significant queues over the holidays without the American Flyer open? Seems like it would more difficult to criss-cross the mountain and might disperse crowds in strange ways.


ChrisC wrote:It's always been a mystery to me that lift installations don't really seem to start in earnest until August/Sept. Very little buffer. Can't resorts commit earlier and lift manufacturers speed up the process - especially for key lifts - and new technologies?


Not sure when Powd'r Corp placed the orders for these. I've seen some late 'buy' decisions in late March or April that cause issues with getting lifts installed. In general my understanding is that many lift orders are placed in ~January time frame unless it is a purchase that has been on the list for quite some time at which point it could be ordered sooner. For new technology ones you would think you'd want to have a few extra months notice.

The skier pattern is definitely different this year. Many fewer people going down to center village than usual - esp lower intermediate skiers. That is also probably at least part of the lower crowding at Eagle. Seems likely that it probably is denting food service revenue as well. They charge more for food at the base than up on the hill... (true for pass-holders at least). But you do have to think how you want to move in a westerly direction across the resort without that lift. Not too difficult; but different and less convenient.
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Re: Copper, CO 12-30-18

Postby EMSC » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:18 am

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