Any construction project comprises unique challenges from geology, weather, and transportation. This is especially true in Big Sky, and even more so when building a new tram structure in the high alpine at 11,166 feet.
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The teams undertaking the foundation work this summer are high-alpine construction specialists – often harnessed into and rappelling off the side of Lone Peak to complete drilling and foundation work with extreme precision.
The upper terminal and tower locations of the new tram are both located above 10,000 feet, in exposed Andesite rock. Contractor group Condon Johnson—responsible for creating the structures for the future upper terminal and tower to attach to—specializes in this work, as do the many other teams that have come together to bring this vision to life.
“There’s a lot of challenges. The mountain varies tremendously. We’re trying to figure out where the rock is, what we’ve got to do to get there, and then get access to it all. Little knobs can really throw you. But we’ve been able to do it, and it’s a pretty beautiful place to work.”
– Ryan Thorne, project manager for Condon Johnson
The top terminal will sit on a concrete slab, supported by a 20-foot concrete wall, which you will see as you ride the tram and enter the terminal. Underground, 23 micropiles will reach 50-70 feet into the rock, connecting to the concrete slab, which support a load of 270,000 pounds each. The tower will have another 18 piles and two tie-backs, supporting its three footings.
“The main purpose of the blasting is to access and set foundations below the surface. This summer’s work will not change the shape of the mountain or affect the ski terrain.”
– Big Sky Resort’s Construction Manager, Chad Wilson
Tram construction will continue through the summer season, and this winter, the old tram will still be operational. The new tram is scheduled to open in the winter of 2023-24 season.
Follow tram construction updates all summer long.