Pats Peak begins replacement of old double chairlift

  • Workers prepare to pour cement for the base of the tower for the new triple chair at Pats Peak in Henniker on Thursday, June 29, 2017. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Workers prepare to cover the newly poured cement for the base of the new towers for the triple chair going in at Pats Peak Thursday, June 29, 2017. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • An excavator moves equipment at the top of Pats Peak on Thursday after pouring concrete for the base towers for the new triple chair that is being installed at the mountain on Thursday, June 29, 2017. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • A concrete-pumping truck gets ready to pour at the top of Pats Peak for the base towers of the new triple chair at the mountain on Thursday, June 29, 2017. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/29/2017 6:36:49 PM

As the temperature hits 80 degrees, thoughts turn naturally to building a bigger ski chairlift.

Maybe your thoughts don’t, but they do at Pats Peak, which is in the process of replacing the half-century-old Peak Double chair with a triple chair that will take a lot more people up the mountain, and do it slightly faster.

“Our 1962 Mueller (brand) double chair would have been turning 55 years old this year. And while there was nothing wrong with the lift ... she was, nevertheless, getting difficult to find parts (for),” said Kris Blomback, general manager for the Henniker ski area.

Over the past month, crews have removed the old chairlift, including all its towers, and begun pouring concrete pads for new towers that will hold the triple, which will run from the lodge to the top of the mountain.

The triple chair was bought from Ascutney, a Vermont ski area that shut down in 2010. Blomback said it has been completely refurbished as part of the project, which he said will cost about a million dollars in total.

A major advantage from the point of view of Pats Peak, and presumably of skiers who don’t like lines, is that the current chair has a capacity of 880 skiers per hour, compared to more than 1,500 per hour for the new triple.

Pats is installing a loading carpet, a mechanized system for controlling how people get onto the chair, which Blomback said will allow them to speed up the chairlift slightly.

“The old ride took about seven minutes, this one is about six minutes,” he said.

Blomback said this past ski season was excellent, thanks to the weather, and allowed Pats to rebound from the dismal 2015-16 year.

Like many ski areas, Pats Peak has been emphasizing its off-season business like weddings and events to balance out the erratic nature of the snow sports industry.

The ski area is also undergoing a $750,000 expansion of its base lodge.

Pats Peak was started in 1963 by four sons of Merle Patenaude on land owned and logged by their father, and is still owned by one brother, Wayne Patenaude. In 2013 it expanded onto adjoining Craney Hill, opening what it calls Cascade Basin, the first enlargement of its boundaries in its history.

The Vermont ski area Ascutney was also the source of a high-speed detachable quad chair bought by Crotched Mountain Ski Area in Francestown.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of the monthly Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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