An Alpental Overhaul: Timeline Set for Sessel, International, Edelweiss Triple Chairlifts
Sessel to open for 2023-24 ski season; International, Edelweiss to debut for 2024-25
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When the Sessel and Edelweiss chairs began spinning in Alpental’s debut ski season in 1967, we were about two years from the first moon landing, five years from Watergate, roughly 20 years from the advent of the commercial internet, and 40 years from the iPhone. If you were still watching the evening news on black-and-white TV, driving a seat-belt-less car that ran on leaded gasoline, and making calls on a rotary-dial phone plugged into the wall, riding these Riblet chairlifts would still make sense.
But it’s 2023, and these antiques have got to go. Especially at a Boyne-owned property such as Alpental. Riblet went out of business 20 years ago (though its website, bizarrely, lives on). These lifts have no safety bars, and I’m kind of over pretending that I’m OK with that. Sessel and Edelweiss are charming and sturdy, emblems of a golden era of industrial design, but they are old, slow, tired, low-capacity – unworthy machines for a Northwestern gem and an Ikon Pass staple.
Say goodbye. After funneling hundreds of millions into super-high-tech lifts across its portfolio over the past five years, Boyne Resorts is angling the cash cannon at Alpental, with three brand-new triple chairs set to go live by the 2024-25 ski season:
The old Sessel lift goes out this summer, replaced by a Doppelmayr carpet-loaded fixed-grip triple on a new, longer alignment. The lift will be ready for next ski season:
A new chair, International, also a fixed triple but without a carpet, will rise approximately 1,300 vertical feet from near the top of Sessel to near the current Nash Gate, adjacent to the International trail, providing direct access to some of Alpental’s best terrain. Alpental will pour footings for this lift in 2023. Here’s where it will sit - skiers will connect to it by skiing down from the new Sessel lift.
Edelweiss (Chair 2) will come down in summer 2024. Alpental will also pour footings for this lift, another Doppelmayr fixed-grip triple (sans carpet), this year. The new line will parallel the existing one, which you can see on the current Alpental trailmap:
Work starts pretty much immediately. “Beginning the last week of April, Alpental will turn into a construction zone to enable blasting teams and construction crews to get started on the phase one of International Chair,” an Alpental microsite dedicated to the project reads. That means the mountain – which normally pushes into May – will close for the season on April 23. Yes Angry Ski Bro, we all know that means you will demand a refund because you were only able to ski 550 days this season. Boo-hoo. You’re getting three new lifts. Get a life.
For skiers with perspective that stretches past tax season, rejoice: in approximately 18 months, Alpental will essentially be a modern ski area, with a high-speed quad and three new triples that should spread skiers across the mountain, boost uphill capacity, reduce liftlines, and generally make the place a lot less of a pain-in-the-ass to ski.
With this announcement, Boyne Resorts will have 13 active lift installations across eight of its 10 ski areas this summer, a percentage that dwarfs lift-upgrade activity at Vail (five active installs across 37 North American resorts), Alterra (eight active installs at 15 ski areas), and Powdr (one lift across 11 ski areas). And, with the exception of the massive Wild Blue Gondola at Steamboat, its competitors’ installations lack the spectacle of Boyne’s dazzling high-consequence projects.
Here's a deeper look at Alpental’s upgrades and what they mean for the ski area, its skiers, and Boyne as a whole:
Below the paid subscriber jump: a lift-by-lift analysis of Alpental’s upgrades, Boyne’s cash cannon, why the era of no-bar lifts must end, and more.