One of the most underrated ski areas in the United States is Eaglecrest in Alaska. Fueled by its remote location, the powderhounds are bound to have a blast at the mountain. In recent years, it’s been in the news for its attempts to add a gondola to its lift network.
This week, we got the latest update on that development, along with what’s coming for the 2023-24 season.
The gondola project update detailed negotiations with Goldbelt, Inc., which is financing the gondola for the city-owned ski area. They are currently in the last stages of an agreement for funding the gondola. They’ve received the funds from Goldbelt, and the engineering team is “working on the final tower positioning and terminal designs.” The construction contract is expected to be issued by the end of March 2024.
If they’re able to get through these steps without any issues, they expect to open the gondola in the Fall of 2025 and open it for skiers during the 2025-26 season. Previous timelines had it ready for 2024, so it’s a bit of a delay, but it’s understandable due to the complex nature of installing a gondola on an island.
The base terminal will be situated near the bottom of the Hooter lift and behind the Tower Bar Tent. A mid-station for loading and unloading will be located below the Avalanche Beacon Park and the Raven trail. The top terminal will be located at the summit of Stairway to Heavenly on Pittman’s Ridge, which is currently only accessible by hiking to it.
The lift is a pulse gondola, with four pods of three cabins, meaning that they’re twelve cabins overall. Each gondola pod will arrive every three and a half minutes, and each section can hold a maximum of forty-five guests. This setup allows for the cabins to be enclosed in the terminal buildings each night, protecting them from the elements.
In terms of off-season projects, chairlift renovations have been a priority. They are working on the gearboxes and braking systems for all the lifts. In addition, greasing and replacing sheave wheels is currently happening on Black Bear and Ptarmigan. They’ll be concluding their lift mechanic preparation work for the 2023-24 season in October.
Snowmaking is also a core focus for this upcoming winter. They have purchased 7 HKD Impulse snowguns, growing their HKD snow guns total to 20. These new guns will help sustain their lower mountain’s snow base, which allows guests to access the upper mountain’s terrain, which has a more reliable snowpack.
It’ll be an interesting next couple of years at Eaglecrest, and we’ll keep you posted on the latest developments.
Image Credits: Eaglecrest Ski Area