Sunday River to Upgrade Barker Lift to 6-Pack, Add 2nd Chairlift to Merrill Hill
“Barker 6” will be resort’s second Doppelmayr D-Line lift, feature bubbles and heated seats, and will be fastest six-pack in North America
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It’s one of New England skiing’s great pinchpoints: the Barker Mountain high-speed quad. Come gliding down Right Stuff or Tourist Trap or Sunday Punch many days and you’ll see the lines wrapped out both sides of the terminal. If you catch yourself in time you can skid over to the normally empty Locke Mountain triple or you can follow Easy Street down to the South Ridge lifts, but most everyone seems to want to lap Barker.
So when the resort announced, in 2021, that they intended to replace the aging Barker high-speed quad with… a refurbished high-speed quad that then sat on the Jordan line, skiers were unimpressed. Why drop a sparkling eight-pack on the under-used Jordan Bowl rather than ramp up capacity on Barker? Barker deserved better.
And the peak will get it: Sunday River announced today that it will replace the hunk-of-junk Barker quad with a sparkling new Doppelmayr D-Line six-pack this summer. It will be one of the fastest sixers in North America, cutting the nearly 1,400-vertical-foot ride time to just over four-and-a-half minutes – 30 percent faster than the current lift, and move 3,250 skiers per hour. This will be Boyne’s third D-Line sixer (Big Sky’s Swift Current 6 and the Highlands’ forthcoming Camelot 6 are the others), the second D-Line lift at Sunday River (after the Jordan 8), and seventh D-Line lift overall in Boyne’s sprawling portfolio (the eight-packs at Loon, Big Sky, and Boyne Mountain round out the roster). The Barker 6, as it will be known, will come decked out in the same “Sunday River Red” color scheme as the new Jordan lift, and will sport bubbles and heated seats. Here’s a rendering:
Sunday River will also add a second Doppelmayr triple chair to Merrill Hill, its newest terrain pod. This lift will run 750 vertical feet and will serve three new runs on the peak’s backside. While this will be additional ski terrain open to all, the point of it is to grant ski-in-ski-out access to several additional lots on what is essentially a gigantic real estate development. Here’s a look at Sunday River’s current trailmap – Barker is Lift 1, and I’ve drawn in the approximate location of the new Merrill Hill lift on the main map, in yellow, at bottom-center (the new liftline would not be visible on the Merrill Hill inset):
Barker 6 will, somewhat remarkably, be the first pure six-place chairlift in Maine (Sunday River’s Chondola alternates six-person chairs and eight-person gondola cars). These two chairlift installations join a packed summer capital-improvement lineup for Boyne’s resorts, which already included a high-speed quad installation and terrain expansion at Sugarloaf, a new quad and terrain expansion on Loon’s South Peak, the new sixer at Highlands, and two new chairlifts at Boyne Mountain.
Part of this offseason’s work at Sunday River will also include significant snowmaking enhancements across Aurora, Oz, and Jordan peaks, as well as South Ridge.
These 2023 projects are the latest installments in fulfilling Sunday River’s ambitious 2030 plan. “The recent opening of the Jordan 8, the announcement of Barker 6, coupled with dramatic snowmaking system investments and the addition of a second Merrill Hill lift, all represent big next steps in Sunday River’s 2030 Plan,” said Sunday River President Dana Bullen.
So where, exactly, will these two lifts sit? And what will they achieve? And what will be the fate of the old Jordan high-speed quad, which was last seen loaded on a flatbed out of town? And what’s next for one of New England’s biggest and busiest ski resorts? Here’s a deeper look:
Below the paid subscriber jump: the strange history of the Barker chair, Yan’s homicidal detachable lifts, the ski area within the ski area, the most amazing snowmaking system, and more.