There’s really nothing like the Jackson Hole Tram in North America: it’s big, it’s fast, it accesses some of the best terrain in the country, and it rocks out (soul tram anyone?) Save me that rhetoric on Snowbird’s tram- they haven’t played the ‘Dead since the Freeskiing World Tour Tram Party in ’06. Truth is, it’s the best lift in North America. Period. It’s a 9 minute ride to 4,139 feet of fall-line bliss. There’s no hiking necessary- put your skis or board on and let gravity take you to some of the best in-bounds skiing in the country. Big Red has a lot of history and a lot of technology went into creating this masterpiece. Here’s an overview of Big Red’s history, its legacy, and what exactly fuels the Big Red Heli.
The original tram was completed in 1966 and cost $1.6 million. It was partially funded by a government program ($1 million), the rest came from a private investment.
Adjusted for inflation, the cost would be approximately $10.5 million in 2008 (year the new tram was completed).
The original capacity of the two cabins was 52 passengers + 1 operator.
The original cabins were replaced in 1989.
The original Jackson Hole Tram had an hourly skier capacity of 300, ascended at 8m/s and took 10.5 minutes.
The original Jackson Hole Tram took 26 months to build and was powered by 1000hp engines.
The original tram was constructed by Swoboda of Austria. The new tram was constructed by CWA Cabins of Switzerland.
The new Jackson Hole Tram opened in December 2008 and cost $31 million. It was privately financed.
The new tram cost roughly three times as much to build as the original tram, adjusted for inflation.
During construction, a Swiss engineer allegedly took a pair of skis that had been mounted to Corbet’s Cabin for years, strapped them on his feet and skied Corbet’s Couloir- just to say he had.
The new Jackson Hole Tram has an hourly skier capacity of 650, ascends at 10m/s and takes 9 minutes.
The new tram took 20 months to build and is powered by 1970hp engines.
Both trams are double reversible or jib-back trams- meaning that both tram cars run simultaneously, but in opposite directions.
The tram smells like…adventure.
There are benches in the tram, but only in the summer months.
The tram access over 2,500 acres of in-bounds terrain and over 3,000 acres of backcountry terrain that receives an average of 475″ of snow. The video above is an example of some of that terrain.
The tram rises 4,139 feet and travels over two miles.
The tram can operate in winds of up to 60mph
The tram is equipped with a cd player, tape player, and auxiliary plug in- and the tram operators know how to use it.
The “soul tram” runs once a day, try to be on it.
The construction of the new Jackson Hole Tram is documented in “Cable to the Sky.”