One of the most gossipped-about subjects at a ski resort are new improvements. Rickety lifts needing replacement, funds being released for snowmaking infrastructure, new technologies spied overseas are always on the lips of those ‘in the know’ at resorts.
Burnt Hut Chair at Buller, in a moment of glorious irony and wordplay, was struck by lightning over summer and the bottom station was burnt beyond repair. This happened too late into the pre-season to order and install a new chair, so instead it was decommissioned and as a stopgap 2 lengthy magic carpets were installed. Incidentally these have been very well received by my 4yo nephew and by all accounts are a good option given the circumstances.
The original was a diesel Doppelmayr Triple Chair, and according to the Australian Ski Tow Directory was the oldest running chairlift at Buller at the time of the fire. In conjunction with the Horse Hill Lift (more on that later) it served it’s purpose well as an alternative beginner ski area to and mountain access point to Bourke St and the Village. As the recent fatality on Bourke St shows, the need for greater beginner terrain is vital due to overcrowding.
The major achilles heel of the Burnt Hut area was that it was difficult, particularly for children, to traverse back to Bourke St/Baldy.
However with a clean slate and a new lift being planned it’s an opportunity to replace the lift with something more modern and change the alignment to make it more customer friendly. Early talk was that it would be slightly realigned, and terminate at Tirol Cafe, with weaker rumours suggesting it would extend all the way to Baldy.
This picture lobbed in my inbox late yesterday showing that it will be a 2-stage solution and also open up some new terrain:
As you can see the lift will be realigned to open up more skiing in the Telecom area, and also allow a return trail from Grimus load, but will still terminate at Spurs restaurant.
A second lift will be built at the loading station of the existing Dam Rope Tow and extend to Baldy – In my opinion this serves 2 purposes: firstly allowing easy access for beginner skiers to Bourke St/Baldy, and also when the terrain is limited to snowmaking areas it will provide easy access for Day Visitors to the main LBS and Summit areas.
Overall I think it’s a good option and hope that it’s pursued.
There’s also a lot of talk about extending snowmaking, but this also requires a lot of infrastructure work in terms of water, compressed air and power, so I’ll keep you updated as I hear more.
Furthermore there are conspiracy theories going around about how Buller is not running Horse Hill for a variety of reasons – all untrue, it’s due to an electrical fault that can’t yet be traced. Each time the lift has been run it has blown the main circuit breaker and the mechanics are still looking at the cause of this problem.