Alpine Meadows to upgrade Sherwood lift |

Alpine Meadows to upgrade Sherwood lift

Paul Raymore and Megan Michelson
Sierra Sun and Sun News Service

Frequent skiers and riders of Alpine Meadows have long known that heading over to the resort’s backside and the ironically named Sherwood Express chairlift can be a gamble on busy days.

By all accounts, the area typically accessed via a traverse from the summit or via Ray’s Rut from the Scott chair offers some of the best terrain available on the mountain. But long lines at the base of the 20-plus-year-old Sherwood Express fixed-grip triple chair were often enough to discourage people from coming back.

That should change next season, according to Director of Mountain Operations Scott Swietanski, as Alpine will replace the outdated Sherwood triple with a new high-speed quad this summer.

“When the skiing is good in Sherwood, it’s excellent, and people like to ski it. Most times you’d go out Ray’s Rut and you would see a huge line back there and yet nobody is skiing the runs because they don’t want to have to come down and wait in that line again. So you have this great skiing but long lines,” Swietanski said. “Now this [new lift] should virtually eliminate any lines on even the busiest days.”

After a seven-year permitting process, Alpine’s new Doppelmayr-CTEC high-speed quad will double the uphill capacity of the Sherwood chair, from 1,200 to 2,400 people per hour, Swietanski said. In addition, people riding the lift will get to the top in less than half the time.

Currently, there’s only one high-speed six-person chair and one express quad in Alpine’s lift network, so a new high speed quad is, as Alpine spokeswoman Rachel Woods said, “a big deal.”

The last chairlift changes at the mountain include the Hotwheels triple chair, which replaced the Weasel double chair in 1998, and the Summit Six, which upgraded from a quad in 1996.

Construction of the new Sherwood Express lift will begin once the mountain closes on May 30 and, according to Swietanski, the new lift will be ready for the 2005/06 ski season.

And while the new lift will be a dramatic change for the resort, according to Woods, it’s just one piece of Alpine’s long-term strategy of upgrading the mountain experience.

“The new lift is this great venture, but it’s also really symptomatic of what we’re doing around here. We’re quietly doing all these really great improvements,” Woods said. “And when you take a step back and look at what is at Alpine now versus two years ago, we’ve got some really neat improvements.”