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Banff’s Sunshine Village giving Castle Mountain Resort a lift

Castle Mountain is waiting for its Angel — a high-speed chairlift that’s helped skiers fly up Sunshine Village’s Lookout Mountain in Banff since it was put into service in 1988. 

The lift is in the process of being decommissioned for transport. This summer, Angel Express will land at Castle Mountain, about 35 kilometres southwest of Pincher Creek, Alta. But there are a few steps before Angel will operate and give skiers wings again. 

Castle Mountain spokesperson Cole Fawcett said the last lift was installed 20 years ago, so acquiring this four-seater is welcomed addition. Angel Express will be the hill’s first high-speed chair.

“It’s hard to believe that it’s almost 20 years since we’ve opened a new lift at Castle and an appreciable new tranche of terrain,” Fawcett said. “But yeah, that will soon become our reality once again.”

A Sunshine news release said Angel covered a vertical lift of 1,244 feet (379 metres) in just over five minutes and made history as the first high-speed quad in the Canadian Rockies. 

“I remember the look of disbelief as skiers and snowboarders would zoom into the top station,” said long-time Sunshiner Don Beaulieu in a news release. “High-speed quads were new, and skiers had this look on their face that they weren’t quite sure the lift would slow down in time.”

Sunshine ready for new lift

Banff Sunshine Village spokesperson Kendra Scurfield was watching the dismantling process Monday, excited for what’s coming to her hill next. 

“We are replacing Angel with Super Angel, which will be a luxury, six-passenger, heated, direct-drive, bubble lift that will open in November of this year.” 

After Angel arrives at its new home, Fawcett said, work will start over the coming winter to assess where the lift should go, get engineering assessments and decide on any upgrades.

“It’s not a plug-and-play type scenario,” he said.

An Angel with good bones

So far, he said, engineers have told Castle that Angel has good bones.

“Angel is quite old there, there’s no question. But it’s a really solid lift,” Fawcett said. “We’re optimistic that it’ll be a good machine for Castle for years to come.”

Before skiers and snowboarders can take flight on Angel again, Castle needs government approvals. The plan is that once the process is done, the lift can be installed in the summer of 2025. 

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