| Projects | Archive | 2015-07-02

Lutsen Mountains Breaks Ground for New Gondola

Lutsen, MN - - Lutsen Mountains broke ground June 23 on a new $7 million Doppelmayr gondola, which will be operational by opening day of the 2015-16 ski season. With red cars as a nod to the iconic original, the new 8-passenger gondola will multiply rider capacity to 1,000 visitors per hour. This project is part of a 10-year, $25 million transformation that has evolved Lutsen Mountains into a state-of-the-art destination ski resort.

"The new gondola will minimize wait times and become a new visual icon of the North Shore," said Tom Rider, family co-owner. "As a family business and economic anchor for our community, Lutsen Mountains is committed to offering the premier mountain resort experience in the Midwest."

Rider was in attendance at the groundbreaking along with family co-owner Charles Skinner; Jim Boyd, Executive Director of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce; Linda Kratt, Executive Director of the Cook County Visitors Bureau; and Steve Mayhew, Site Manager for Doppelmayr.

"While Dopplemayr works on lift installations worldwide, there are a few installations where the lift becomes iconic and transformative to the resort," said Steve Mayhew, Site Manager for Doppelmayr. "The Lutsen Mountains project is sure to be a project of this magnitude and we are proud to be a partner in this expansion."

Current Gondola Construction Timeline

  • Now - July 15: Dig and form tower and terminal footings
  • July 15 - Helicopter concrete to terminals and tower footings
  • Sept. 1 - Helicopter towers
  • Sept. 1 - Gondola cabins arrive from Switzerland
  • Sept. 15 - Top terminal complete
  • Oct. 15 - Drive terminal complete
  • Oct. 15 - Pull and splice cable
  • Nov. 1 - Testing
  • Nov. 15 - Gondola complete
    The existing gondola will remain operational throughout the summer. The old gondola cars will be sold at auction in the fall.

"The new gondola and other investments at Lutsen Mountains will ripple through the entire region," said Boyd. "Having a state-of-the-art destination ski resort in our community not only draws visitors who support local businesses, it also helps entice new families to live, work and become part of the community in Cook County."

For the past decade, Lutsen Mountains has been systematically investing over $25 million in improvements, with an emphasis in environmental stewardship. These investments include:

  • A new high-speed, 6-person chairlift on Moose Mountain, reducing ride time from 10 minutes to 3.5 minutes
  • New snowmaking technology that produces more snow in less time with a significant reduction in both energy and water consumption
  • New runs, including acres of tree skiing, several new terrain parks and new double-black diamond runs on the north side of Moose Mountain.
  • Summit Chalet featuring mountain top dining and world-class views from the top of Moose Mountain
  • Over $1.7 million in grants and private funds in conservation projects and other initiatives to improve water quality in the Poplar River watershed
  • Establishment of the Lake Superior-Poplar River Water District and partnering with the State of Minnesota, IRRRB and the Cook County EDA to finance a pipeline to use water from Lake Superior instead of the Poplar River for snowmaking and other community benefits

The gondola project in 2015 will include the expansion of the Summit Chalet and additional observation decks and hiking trails. Canopy tours, ropes s and zip lines are planned for future years.

"We are grateful to the many partners, community leaders, and public officials who have worked with us over the years," Skinner said. "Lutsen Mountains is a critical piece of Cook County's economy, and with these investments we are signaling our intention to continue being fully invested in our community for the next generations of visitors."

Lutsen Mountains, located in Lutsen, Minnesota, is the largest and highest elevation ski area in the Midwest offering four interconnected mountains, 95 runs and 1080-feet of vertical, all spread over 1000 acres. Lutsen Mountains is the largest business employer in Cook County, Minnesota and generates $29 million of the County's $159 million tourism economy. The new gondola, proposed terrain expansion and other planned investments are expected to double skier visits, and double the ski area's economic contribution to the County's economy to $60 million.

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