Careful observers of Lone Mountain at Big Sky Resort, MT, may have noticed significant progress on the Lone Peak Tram over the past couple of weeks. We’re happy to report that it’s not a mirage: three of the four required track ropes have been installed, and the top and bottom terminals are officially connected.
The new Lone Peak Tram requires four track ropes in addition to the haul rope. Each cabin travels on two track ropes on either side of the haul rope that provide support and stability as the cabins move between the terminals and over the tower.
The haul rope, which is expected to be installed in the next few weeks, is centered directly above the tram cabin, attached by the hangers, and provides the propulsion for the tram.
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. We’re fortunate to have a super talented pilot.”
– Jas Raczynski, Big Sky Resort’s construction project manager
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.
“It’s very exciting to finally see the path the new tram will travel up to the summit of Lone Mountain,” Raczynski added.