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Chairlift Capital Campaign

 

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A Way Of Life

For over 60 years, BigRock Mountain has been the focal point of downhill skiing for Aroostook County and New Brunswick residents across the border. Generations of families have skied our hill - grandparents, parents, children, and their grandchildren - often on the same day! Skiing is a special sport where friendships are forged, a connection to the community is built, and a way of life is experienced. Through this experience, our ski area supports the local economy and greater Aroostook County/Eastern New Brunswick region by making it more vibrant. BigRock Mountain brings people to this area. It makes them want to work here, live here, and stay here because people of all ages love to have fun outdoors.

We’re committed to a new chairlift to the top. Part of any good day on the hill is the way to the top. Our current double chair is nearing the end of its serviceable life and holding us back from what we can achieve. It’s spent the last 27 years taking kids up the mountain for their first turns, racers back to the top for another slalom run, and old friends to the next trailhead to catch some fresh powder. Now it’s time for us to think about the future.

Timeline Image

The Need

During the summer of 1993, after decades of surface lift service, BigRock Mountain installed a used 25+ year-old double chairlift to the top. This lift increased uphill capacity, offered better access to terrain, and allowed skiers a chance to rest their legs and a big resort experience.

Lifts like the Mueller double chair, built in the ‘60s and ‘70s by a manufacturer no longer in business do not have a specific end-of-life/serviceable date however they are becoming increasingly difficult to keep in service. Current lift safety standards are becoming more stringent, parts are difficult to find, and there is a continued loss of manufacturer support/institutional knowledge. Industry norms recommend the replacement of older lifts after 50 years.

In 2000, the ski area was purchased by Maine Winter Sports Center (MWSC), which engaged the snow engineering consulting group to help formulate a strategic, master planning document to lead the future of BigRock Mountain. Phase 1 of this strategic plan was completed to address the deficit of novice terrain when the beginner pod was developed and the Doppelmayr triple chair was installed. The proposed chairlift to the top is Phase 2 of this original master plan and the top priority of the recent 2020 Master Plan Update.

The Future


BigRock Mountain’s future is rich with opportunity for expansion. With the overall economic impact of skiing in the State of Maine exceeding $1 billion annually and many larger resorts increasing their daily ticket to $80-$100, there is a significant market opportunity for a ski area that offers family-friendly skiing at affordable prices. This, coupled with global, statewide, and local trends showing incredible growth in outdoor recreation will allow BigRock Mountain strong market growth with the installation of a new chair lift that efficiently gets more people to the top. 

Opportunity: 

Grow market share in Fredericton, Bangor, and beyond: The installation of a modern quad chair to the top will entice skiers from across the state/New Brunswick to make the trip north. Target skier visits expected to grow 25-30%.  
Stabilize downhill skiing in Aroostook County/Eastern New Brunswick. Being a downhill skier means you’re part of a greater skiing lifestyle. The new lift at BigRock Mountain stabilizes skiing at nearby nordic facilities, smaller local hills, and larger resorts by giving people a place to learn at and progress towards. 
Long Winters and Prolific Snowfall give BigRock Mountain a financial edge over its southern competitors by naturally providing better conditions and opportunities for making snow more efficiently for less.  
 

An increase interest in winter sports has been a welcome change across the country. We have seen a local demand for skiing, and snowboarding jump this past year and expect that popularity to grow with the returning season. In the 2020-21 ski season we saw a 30% increase in pass holders and are confident to continue to build community interest.

Lift Features

The Doppelmayr Alpenstar Quad chair offers guests the best experience from the worldwide leader in ropeway installations. Modern design and safety standards are met using the latest technology and a touchscreen interface that eases system operations and maintenance. Seating for four brings more guests up the mountain together and increases lift capacity to 1800 pph initial. Uphill speed is increased to 450 feet/min reducing the lift ride to 8 minutes. 

In terms of maintenance and support, the Alpenstar has a manufacturer’s supported 2-year warranty and readily available parts and service. Remote system access allows manufacturer-based maintenance and troubleshooting increasing dependability and uptime. The Doppelmayr Connect Controls bring some of the most advanced features to BigRock: troubleshooting issues, and monitoring operations will mitigate faults and improve guest experiences. 

Chair lift statistics
parent and child riding chairlift

A variable frequency drive will change the way we load and unload our guests. Our existing double has a limited number of speeds. With the new Alpenstar quad we can infinitely adjust the speed to what the users need. For our youth skiers loading for the first time, or our elderly unloading at the top, we can slow the lift down to a crawl.  

This will allow us to support non-traditional events like fall foliage tours, lift access weddings, and downhill mountain biking. A major hurdle for these events is proper lift speed adjustment for on-boarding and off-boarding. The Alpenstar Quad will allow us to bring guests up and down the mountain at all times of the year and increase the out of season revenue important to our long-term success. 


Diagram of chairlift seating

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