“It’s very exciting to finally see the path the new tram will travel up to the summit of Lone Mountain.”-Jas Raczynski, construction project manager at Big Sky Resort.

Arguably the biggest project happening in the North American ski industry this summer is at Big Sky Resort. A new tram will go from near the base terminal of the Powder Seeker 6 to the top of Lone Mountain’s perilous terrain.

According to the Billings Gazette, the tram is much bigger than its predecessor: it will travel 4,612 feet versus 2,800 feet due to its new location and will carry a maximum of 75 people versus the older tram’s max capacity of 15 individuals. It will only take four minutes to reach Lone Peak, with a maximum speed of 22 mph.

Back in August, they built the single lift tower, which is 100 feet tall. In order to build on top of the rock, Big Sky needed to drill 50 holes with depths of 50 to 70 feet. For the lift tower, they needed 250,000+ pounds of steel and 300 cubic yards of concrete.

The tram cabins arrived in August and were even greeted by a moose upon their arrival.

In an update from last week, Big Sky announced that the top terminal’s structural work has been completed.

Next up in the process has been installing the track ropes. Four track ropes are needed for this new tram, along with a haul rope. When a tram goes up the mountain, Each cabin ascends on two track ropes on either side of the haul rope that stabilizes the lift. Three of the four track ropes have been installed, with the haul rope installation happening within the next few weeks. Big Sky explained this process in its most recent update:

“Each rope installation is a multi-day process, as the track ropes are too heavy to be installed directly by helicopter. First, a helicopter suspends a pilot rope in the air after teams on the ground have secured it to the bottom terminal. The helicopter then flies the pilot rope to the tower, where it is secured in the tower sheaves, then flown up to the top terminal, where it is secured in the top terminal sheaves and anchored to the ground.

‘While it can sometimes take hours to install pilot ropes, the helicopter pilots at Timberline have been flying these up in 10 to 15 minutes,’ said Jas Raczynski, Big Sky Resort’s construction project manager. ‘We’re fortunate to have a super talented pilot.

Ground teams then attach a slightly larger intermediate rope to the pilot rope to pull between the terminals and over the tower. With the intermediate rope threaded, the process is repeated, and the track rope is pulled between the terminals. The track rope is then manipulated via cranes and other heavy equipment to ensure precise placement. Once the ropes have been secured around the bollards at the top and bottom, the final tensioning process begins. After a half day of rope tensioning, the installation is complete. This entire process is repeated four times total to install each track rope. 

The construction process for the new tram is on schedule and the new lift is expected to open during the 2023-24 season.

Image/Video Credits: Chris Kamman of Sky Lab Media House

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