Paying the price for a Snowbowl lift ticket

Blowers on Mount Humphreys cover Snowbowl with snow made from reclaimed water. Photo courtesy of Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort.

Arizona Snowbowl announced its plan to replace the Agassiz chairlift for the 2020-2021 winter season last March, and construction efforts were well underway. According to an update from Sept. 18, supporting towers for the high-speed chairs and gondolas were officially placed. 

“We’re excited to share the latest construction progress: today [Sept. 18], Snowbowl and Leitner-Poma teams installed the lift towers for the new-high speed lift!” the update stated. “With the help of the construction helicopter, the towers were flown to their permanent locations on the mountain.”

According to a March 5 press release from Snowbowl’s Chief Planning Officer, J.R. Murray, the old Agassiz chairlift experienced a mechanical malfunction Jan. 18 during the middle of operations. Although the three-person lift was repaired and reopened seven weeks later, its replacement will feature six-person chairs and eight-person gondola cabins. Furthermore, the updated set up will transport skiers and snowboarders to the top of Snowbowl in seven minutes, reaching an altitude of 11,500 feet.

The same press release stated the new Agassiz lift will maintain the same capacity of 1,200 people per hour, while also cutting the overall ride time in half. It will become Snowbowl’s second high-speed chairlift following the installation of Grand Canyon Express — a six-passenger lift — back in 2017. 

With summer officially over and winter quickly approaching, Snowbowl’s latest update stated that the organization is busy preparing for November’s opening day. Along with the lift towers’ installation, foundations and storage areas are also mid-construction. 

In addition to the lift towers, construction crews have also been hard at work building the foundations for the top terminal and the gondola storage building at the base area,” the update stated. “With only two months to go until our scheduled opening date on November 20, there’s a lot to look forward to this winter.”

As referenced in the press release, Murray said the Agassiz run put Snowbowl “on the map” in the ‘60s, and still holds a national reputation as an iconic lift. Additionally, it is the only chairlift open for summer passengers and year-round use.

“Agassiz lift provides views of the red rocks in Sedona, the cinder cone volcanic field and the Grand Canyon,” the press release stated. “The addition of the new lift is part of a commitment from Snowbowl and its management company, Mountain Capital Partners, to enhance the guest experience at Snowbowl by meeting current demand and increasing access to year-round outdoor recreation for Flagstaff residents and visitors.”  

According to another construction update from July 1, Agassiz’s replacement is the largest chairlift construction project in the continental United States during 2020. Snowbowl’s website also showed that season passes are discounted until Oct. 9, with most selections marked down a few hundred dollars.