Dec 1, 2011 | Marmot, Winter 2011

Ready for a Magic Carpet Ride?

Magic Carpets originated in Denver, Colo., more than 20 years ago, when Rocky Mountain Conveyor & Equipment (now Magic Carpets Lifts Inc.) saw the shortcomings of rope and handle tow lifts, and decided to do something about it.

They launched the first Magic Carpet lift in 1990 and in 1994 the “beginner’s ski lift” won the Colorado’s Most Innovative New Products competition. Since then, Magic Carpet ski lifts have been installed in eight countries over four continents. The company’s website notes that 90 per cent have been placed in North America.

The Magic Carpets act like human-sized conveyor belts, transporting skiers from one area of a ski hill to another on a slow moving belt. Similar technology is already in use as people movers in airports across North America.

Magic Carpets are made of modular, galvanized steel frames and installed on top of existing terrain. Those at Mount Washington have been built onto a sturdy concrete base on top of dirt berms, to account for snow accumulation.

The “carpets” are capable of moving three to four times more people per hour than a handle tow, and are completely accessible. At Mount Washington, they will have the capacity to move 2,000 people per hour, Resort President Peter Gibson said.

The speed and ease were more attractive than the Green Chairlift, which had outlived its usefulness, he said.

The Magic Carpets will run at 80 per cent of the capacity of the Green Chair, “but when you take into account the number of stops and starts the Green Chair had, it will be a net gain.

“More time will be spent sliding down in lessons as opposed to riding up.”

Mount Washington will have the first covered Magic Carpets in Canada. The clear fiberglass canopies will protect the conveyors from snowfall yet still allow riders to enjoy the view outside.

The covers were a must, Gibson said, because of the unique snow conditions – and record accumulation – at Mount Washington.

Gibson admits he wasn’t always a fan of the Magic Carpets, until he sent two Resort mechanics to Colorado last January to check out covered Carpets in operation. “The Magic Carpets started to make sense for us,” he said.

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