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Photos - Jackson Hole Tram Construction

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Well, if you pay ANY attention at all to ski area developments, you're probably aware that Jackson Hole is building a new tram. It's going up on exactly the same line as the "old" one, which is now completely gone to the scrap heap.

They are actually somewhat AHEAD of schedule, so it looks for now like sometime in late-December of this year we will have a new tram. The new one will be bigger than (100 riders per tram car versus 55) and faster than (I think 8 or 9 minutes to the top versus 10 or 11) the old one. It's costing at least $25 million, which I'm pretty sure is the most expensive ski lift ever installed in the US.

Here are some photos as of yesterday...

This is the very top of the mountain, with Corbet's Couloir (and a couple of fresh ski tracks) visible. You can see the crane being used for construction of Tower 5, which is the highest tower. A minor observation is that the "new Tower 5 seems to be taller than the old one. In *big* snow years, the west car occasionally would drag in the wind-deposited snow coming over the ridge above Corbet's Couloir. They would then have to take snow cats over there to shove snow out of the way, which looked like a REALLY scary thing to do if you were driving a cat. :



And here's a closeup of that crane. From the valley, that crane looks like it would topple off over the cliff at the slightest hint of a breeze:



Here's a long telephoto (which really foreshortens the whole mountain) image taken from the bottom and looking up the line of all five towers:



Here's a photo of the cables awaiting placement. I believe that the "little" spool in the foreground is the "haul" cable that moves the cars up and down. The big cable in the background is the "support" cable (two for each side up the mountain) on which the cars ride:



Here's a closeup of the base station machinery:



And here's what the whole base station looks like so far:



Pretty exciting stuff.

Word is that they will start installing the cables on August 11. I'm very curious to watch how they do that.

So, if you weren't already planning a trip to JH this winter, you might want to give it some thought.
post #2 of 14
They junked the old tram?? Man - they shoulda sold it piece by piece on ebay and made a fortune.
post #3 of 14
Nice pictures! Thanks for posting. One question -- how did they get the crane to the top of the mountain?
post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post
Nice pictures! Thanks for posting. One question -- how did they get the crane to the top of the mountain?
They used a much larger crane.
post #5 of 14
In Switzerland jobs like that would be carried by 'em Choppers, you know those with rotary wings on top (not those with two wheels one in front of the other with a one to 4-6 cyls engine in between)
post #6 of 14
Your mountain road goes to the top of the mountain? Does it come up Rendezvous Bowl from the south or something? I guess I remember seeing it last winter since it must be the traverse from the top of Sublette to the East Ridge lift.

Are they going to keep the East Ridge lift after the tram goes in?
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jer View Post
They junked the old tram?? Man - they shoulda sold it piece by piece on ebay and made a fortune.
My understanding is that they got quite a lot of money for the old parts as scrap metal. They did save the cars.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post
Nice pictures! Thanks for posting. One question -- how did they get the crane to the top of the mountain?
It's a chassis-mounted truck crane. They drove it up there. Carefully, I assume. All of the towers are accessible by the access road with the exception of Tower 2. (See below)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post
They used a much larger crane.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobody View Post
In Switzerland jobs like that would be carried by 'em Choppers, you know those with rotary wings on top (not those with two wheels one in front of the other with a one to 4-6 cyls engine in between)
That's how they put up Tower 2. I'm just guessing, but I suspect that since they could reach all the other tower sites by road, it was probably cheaper to bring in the crane for the rest of the towers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vinn View Post
Your mountain road goes to the top of the mountain? Does it come up Rendezvous Bowl from the south or something? I guess I remember seeing it last winter since it must be the traverse from the top of Sublette to the East Ridge lift.

Are they going to keep the East Ridge lift after the tram goes in?
Yes. The access road winds its way from the base of Teton Village all the way to the top of Rendezvous Mountain. It comes up into Rendezvous Bowl from over at the top of the Thunder chair, zigs north to very near the top of the Sublette chair, then cuts upward across the middle of Rendezvous Bowl before coming back along the ridgeline at the top of the Bowl. It allows access to all of the tram towers except Tower 2.

I don't know what the current thinking about the East Ridge chair is. In their permit to put up the chair in the first place, it was specifically stated that it was a temporary location until the tram was built. It was supposedly then going to be moved to the Crags area between upper Casper Bowl and Apres Vous. I don't know if that's still the plan or not.
post #8 of 14
Great Pics Bob and thanks for the update. Will be interesting to see what they do with that double chair.

And it's looking very good for a return trip to Jackson this season for me:
post #9 of 14
I'll be there Jan 21st- 25th

I am sooo pumped. going with three best freinds.....can't fff"n wait....
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Glad to hear so many of you are planning a trip here this winter.

They started pulling the cables for the new tram yesterday. Everything is on schedule and looking good for a December 20 "official" opening.

For anybody who doesn't know, this kind of tram is called a "jigback". That means there are two tram cars that travel in opposite directions from each other. When one car is at the top of the mountain, the other is at the bottom. When moving, they pass each other at the midway point as one goes up and the other comes down.

The fancy mechanism at the top of each car is the carriage structure that actually sits on the cables. The carriage mechanism for each car rests (and slides) on top of two huge, stationary cables that are called the "support cables". Those don't ever move, they just stretch from the bottom to the top of the line and support mechanism rides on top of them.
Both carriage mechanisms are also attached to a continuous loop of smaller-diameter cable known as the "haul cable". The haul cable is what actually moves the tram cars up and down the mountain. The motor turns great big flywheels at the bottom and top of the line, and the flywheels move the haul cable, which in turn moves both cars.

The carriage structures also have extremely sophisticated brakes and sensors for in case anything should ever go wrong. The brakes can stop a fully-loaded tram car on a dime, which is why the cables are attached to an enormous steel-and-concrete counterweight at the top of the tram. That counterweight absorbs most of shock in the event of an emergency stop. If *that* ever happens for real and it's necessary to evacuate the tram cars, then the ski patrollers are trained to ride a carriage-type deal down the cables to access the top of each tram car. They then put harnesses on each person inside and winch them down to the ground below.

It's really a pretty amazing piece of machinery.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post
I wonder if I could pay them to lower me over into corbets....
post #12 of 14
Bob,

Do you know what their plans are for the old cars?
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattL View Post
Bob,

Do you know what their plans are for the old cars?
One of them is sitting on the ground at the base area as a tourist attraction. I had heard that they were going to auction one of them off, but I haven't heard anything about that recently. I'll ask.

Hey, Lonnie. I've got a harness and a climbing rope. I'll lower you in for $50.
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
I wonder if I could pay them to lower me over into corbets....
I'll push you in for free.
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