Good reviews for Vail’s Chair 4
VAIL — The first high-speed, six-seat chairlift ever to grace the slopes of Vail made its debut this week, and excitement was in the air.
The lift itself uses different technology than many are used to seeing, with loading gates preceding a moving walkway that takes riders a few yards to an on-snow pickup point, where they are dropped off and scooped up by the lift. After picking up the precious cargo, the chair then makes a 90-degree turn to the right and takes off up the slope.
Ten-year-old Haley Bill summed up the experience with three words after riding the lift on Friday.
“It was fun,” she said.
The loading gates and right angle loading conveyor system have been shown to reduce the number of lift stops and slowdowns, thereby increasing the efficiency of the lift, Vail officials announced at the lift’s opening. The lift will increase capacity by 33 percent, to 3,600 people per hour — the same capacity as Gondola One.
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“Hopefully we’ll have less liftlines this year,” said Kristin Tang, of Edwards, who rode the lift several times on Friday and said she hadn’t waited in any lines all day.
Tang said she’s been stuck in lines on the former Chair 4 plenty in the past and is looking forward to watching how things progress with this new lift.
“It will be interesting to see how well it works,” she said.
Jennifer Bill, of Eagle, said while it wasn’t at all busy on the day after Thanksgiving, she’s looking forward to seeing the lift put to the full test during the rest of the holidays this season.
“I hope the tourists do OK with it,” she said. “I think once people get used to it, it should go pretty well.”
Closer to the snow than most other riders, 8-year-old Frankie Marston pointed out an interesting detail which she appreciated.
“It was good that the snow at the end of the lift was sticky, so I didn’t slide off (after departing the moving walkway)” she said.
The lift officially began taking riders up the hill at about 9:20 a.m. Wednesday morning, amid a large staff of Vail Resorts officials in black, red, gray and blue jackets. Chris Jarnot, Vail Mountain’s chief operating officer, cut the ribbon allowing access to the chair, then quickly jumped on to the moving walkway and off to the side, making way for eager riders.
Vail local Maynard Logan was on that first chair and also lapped it a few times on Friday.
He said while the chair took a few times riding to get used to, he thinks it’s indeed going to do its job and reduce traffic.
“I really appreciate that the people who built it know what they’re doing,” he said. “They’re working hard and making sure it’s going to go smoothly.”
Logan said the lift was a sign-of-the-times addition to the mountain — newer technology for a newer day.
Waiting at the top of the mountain for Logan and those early Chair 4 riders was another sign-of-the-times artifact associated with the new technology on the mountain. The traditional new chair lapel pin, a regular gift from Vail for all their openings and significant events, featured six people riding a chairlift, one with the clearly-visible outline of an action camera strapped to his or her head.
“Everything’s new and exciting, and then we get used to it and it just improves what we like to do,” Logan said.
Vail Mountain’s Chair 4, Mountain Top Express, runs until 3:30 p.m. every day.