If you you’ve never been to Palisades Tahoe, or you really don’t know much about the mountain in general, do me a favor real quick, go take a look good look at the trail map and really make note of the ski lifts. There are triple lifts, quad lifts, and some six pack lifts, and then there’s your gondola and tram. All the general stuff you might see on a ski mountain, right? One lift, though, has the same little image as the Base to Base Gondola, but it has an interesting name: Gold Coast Funitel. Funitel. What the heck is a funitel? Question no longer! I’m here to tell you exactly that!
Your typical gondola usually features cabins attached to a single cable with one arm. At a ski resort, guests board the gondola at the bottom of the mountain, the cable pulls the cabin up, drops the guests off at the top, and pulls the cabin down again (sometimes with people in it). A funitel works pretty much the same but features one major difference: it connects to the cable with two arms.
That seems simple, right? Just put up two cables moving at the same speed, one for each arm, right? Well, you’ll notice in the earlier paragraph that I said “it connects to the cable”, not “it connects to the cables”. Through some pretty impressive engineering, the Funitel cabins attach to one cable with two arms.
According to the Gondola Project, funitels usually exist to provide more stability in higher winds. With two arms connecting to the cable, the cabins are likely to swing significantly less in higher winds. Unfortunately, despite how cool they are, they’re large towers and higher costs due to a more complicated technology mean these guys are fairly rare throughout the world (around 21 funitels exist today). The coolest one is almost definitely located at the Bratislava Volkswagen plant in Slovakia, where it’s used to transport new cars from the plant to the test track.
Featured Image Credit: Palisades Tahoe via Facebook