3,200 skiers per hour: Sunday River to debut 8-person chairlift

·3 min read

Sep. 2—NEWRY — It's never too early to start getting excited about ski season, but this year there's a game-changing enhancement coming to Sunday River Ski Resort, a Boyne Resorts property.

The Jordan 8 chairlift is described as the next generation in chairlifts by everyone associated with them and there are only two of them in existence in the U.S. — installed at Boyne ski areas in Montana and New Hampshire.

It's fast, it's smooth and, most importantly, it's capable of moving 3,200 skiers or more per hour up the mountain. It will take just five minutes to get to the top.

"It's just such an experience," resort General Manager Brian Heon said excitedly as he described what it's like to ride the chairlift. Heon took his family to Big Sky Resort in Montana to try out the Ramcharger 8. In 2018, Big Sky was the first Boyne Resort to get the 8-seater, or 8-pack as its called in ski bum circles.

"It's the top of the line way to get people uphill. It's an awesome machine," Heon said.

Ergonomically designed, heated, individual seats with a weather-blocking red bubble will whisk skiers up the mountain to service the Oz and Jordan Bowl peaks. Construction has been underway all summer and, according to Heon, is on schedule to open this season.

Jordan 8 replaces a four-person chairlift and will increase capacity by about a third.

To accommodate the extra traffic, Heon said they've expanded the loading and unloading areas at the top and bottom of the mountain. "We've lowered the elevation, tucked the lift more into the trees, but we've also probably tripled the size of the unload area over last year," he said.

Sitting lower in the trees helps block the wind, an important feature on this particular face of the mountain, which is historically affected more by the wind than any other chairlift at the resort. The bottom line, Heon said, is that the Jordan 8 will be able to operate more safely in higher winds than before.

Skiers can also expect some welcome changes to the terrain on the Kansas trail, which greets people at the top of Jordan 8. To facilitate construction of the lift, a new road was carved up the mountain and the resort management decided to make improvements to the Kansas trail, which had dips and rises in elevation but is regraded as ready for the season. Entrances to trails along the Jordan lift have also been widened, to help accommodate more skiers.

Loon Mountain Resort in Lincoln, New Hampshire, was the second Boyne Resort to get what it calls the Kancamangus 8 last season. In addition to the Jordan 8 at Sunday River, a fourth 8-pack chairlift — Disciples 8 — is being installed at Boyne Mountain in Michigan.

Sunday River would not put a price tag on the new Jordan 8 installation, but an industry website article on the cost of ski lifts puts the Big Sky Ramcharger 8 at $75,000 per chair, which would total around $5 million just for the chairs.

A new triple chairlift is also being installed on Merrill Hill, a new real estate development with mountaintop home sites that range from $500,000 to $1 million for a two-acre plot.

Heon said another area of focus this summer has been beefing up the mountain's snow-making abilities and increasing water delivery capacity.

"The resort is really excited to welcome guests back and showcase off what we've worked so hard to do this summer and deliver for the winter," Heon said. "I think the Jordan 8 is going to be a phenomenal experience. I think the snow-making improvements that we are doing this year — new pump house, new fan guns, guests are going to notice that."