The Insane Logistics of Moving a Gondola Across the Atlantic: The Eaglecrest Gondola, AK

Julia Schneemann | | Industry NewsIndustry News
“Some assembly may be required.” The disassembled Galsterberg gondola in Austria. | Picture: Dave Scanlan, Eaglecrest Resort

Many of us have found a bargain on Craigslist and then were stumped when it turned out we had to disassemble and reassemble the item ourselves. The logistics of moving furniture, sheds, or other large purchases can be so daunting for some that they instead buy new so they have the logistics component taken out of the equation.

How about disassembling and moving an entire gondola from Austria to Alaska? That was the problem the town of Juneau faced after they had purchased the Galsterberg gondola from the Austrian Galsterberg resort. What started as a bargain, when the city of Juneau found a second-hand gondola (on whatever the gondola equivalent for Craigslist is), quickly turned out into a logistical nightmare. The estimated cost of $400,000 to move the gondola more than doubled, and in the end, the gargantuan task fell on the Lynden team, which had tendered the lowest bid with $845,000 to move the gondola across the Atlantic.

“We provided specialized equipment in a tight timeframe on site in Austria to remove the gondola, then trucked the pieces to Rotterdam for ocean export to Norfolk, VA,” Brandie Holmes, Lynden Logistics International Operations Manager, explained.

Bull wheel
Loading the gondola bull wheel in Austria. | Picture: Lynden Website

From Virginia, the pieces traveled by rail to Seattle, where containers were loaded onto a barge by Alaska Marine Lines headed for Juneau. From here, 25 trucks delivered the gondola pieces up the mountain to Eaglecrest Ski Resort. The total load Lynden had to move halfway across the globe consisted of 21 40-foot containers and a step-deck platform loaded with the bull wheel.

Lynden utilized trucks, a steamship, railroads, and a barge to complete this feat and covered more than 10,000 miles. The entire process took three months, from disassembling the gondola in Austria to unloading it in Eaglecrest Ski Area.

Eaglecrest Ski Area’s General Manager, Dave Scanlan, traveled to Schladming in Austria to oversee the disassembling of the Galsterberg gondola. 

“I hope someone labeled all the pieces.” Some of the gondola pieces inside one of the 21 containers. | Picture: Dave Scanlan, Eaglecrest Resort

The next phase of the Eaglecrest Gondola project will be the gondola installation at Juneau, which Northwind Architects lead. Before the gondola is installed, the alignment and location of the track have to be carefully planned. The installation process will also be very complicated, and it is currently anticipated to take at least until the fall of 2024.

To help install and operate the Eaglecrest gondola, the city of Juneau enlisted the help of Goldbelt Incorporated. With the help of a revenue-sharing agreement, Goldbelt was brought on board and will invest $10 million in one lump sum this July to support the completion of the gondola project for the Eaglecrest Ski Area.

Goldbelt embraces the potential the Eaglecrest gondola offers to the area. Goldbelt also operates the Goldbelt Tram, which provides an accessible outdoor experience for summertime visitors. Goldbelt will receive 10-25% of summer revenues from the Eaglecrest gondola for 25 years. The agreement will be extended if Goldbelt does not receive at least $20 million in revenues by then. Likewise, the opening deadline for the gondola has also been extended to May 31, 2028, at which point Goldbelt can opt out of the contract.

It is understandable that after all the setbacks and increased costs Juneau faced, the city wanted to protect itself by pushing out the deadline by another year. However, we sincerely hope that this deadline does not push back the opening of the Eaglecrest gondola by another year and instead is a hedge against unforeseen circumstances.

Eaglecrest gondola
Unloaded and ready for installation at Eaglecrest, AK. | Picture: Eaglecrest Resort Website

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