WILMINGTON — Skiers and snowboarders at Haystack Mountain welcomed the arrival of a new chair lift.
"People are pretty excited about having such a high tech new toy to play with," said Rees Pinney, vice president of membership development at the Hermitage Club. "It's another great amenity for our members to join."
The private ski resort had a grand opening ceremony for its $7.5 million Doppelmayr six-person, detachable lift on Jan. 2. Each chair is equipped with a bubble offering protection to guests during windy, cold or snowy days.
"The Barnstormer lift is the only one of its kind in the United States and we are excited to be able to offer our members the best," said Hermitage Club Founder and President Jim Barnes. "Our members are always able to enjoy the uncrowded, top-notch conditions at the Hermitage Club. Now, their ride to the top will be just as enjoyable as their run back down to the Clubhouse."
The name of the lift is the same as the one it replaced. Less than six minutes are needed to get from the base to the summit. Before, it took closer to 13 minutes.
"That's great obviously," said Pinney. "We don't always need the heated seats and the bubble but it's nice to have when you do."
For the project, 22 lift towers and cross arms were replaced throughout the fall. They were flown in and placed by a helicopter.
The lift travels 5,236 feet uphill and holds 88 chairs. Each night, the chairs will be taken off the line and stored in a parking barn at the base.
The mountain opened for skiing and riding on Dec. 26. The unseasonably warm weather set back plans to open earlier.
The Barnstormer joins four other lifts at Haystack. Two lifts were installed within the last couple years while two others were recently refurbished.
"At this point," Pinney said. "I think we're pretty set for our lifts."