Continuing Evolution, Lutsen Mountains Breaks Ground for New Gondola
Lutsen, MN – June 24, 2015 – 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.”
Improvements to Lutsen Mountains in the past few years include:
- 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 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
- New Summit Chalet featuring mountaintop dining and breathtaking views of Lake Superior, the Sawtooth Mountain Range and the Poplar River Valley
- Over $1.7 million to improve water quality in the Poplar River watershed
- Establishment of the Lake Superior-Poplar River Water District and partnerships with the State of Minnesota, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) and the Cook County EDA to finance a pipeline to use water from Lake Superior for snowmaking and other community benefits
About Lutsen Mountains
Lutsen Mountains, located in Lutsen, Minnesota, is the largest and highest-elevation ski area in the Midwest, with four interconnected mountains, 97 runs and 1080 feet of vertical, all spread over 1,000 acres. Lutsen Mountains is the largest business employer in Cook County, Minn., generating $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.