BIG SKY — MTN News got a firsthand look at construction progress on the Lone Peak Tram that is still set to open for this year's ski season at Big Sky Resort.
"It's not a bad place to come in to work every day. It's cool to be working with such a big team of people and everybody is 100% bought into this project," says project manager Jas Raczynski.
The original Lone Peak Tram was built in 1995. This is the first new tram being built in the United States since Jackson Hole built theirs in 2008.
The new Lone Peak Tram is set to open this December without an enclosure at the top. Next year, the enclosure will be finished.
Lone Peak is the highest scenic overlook in Montana. The new tram will have larger cabins for both skiers and scenic riders.
The tram will add 600 vertical feet to the ride and you can expect to reach the peak in about four minutes.
Gondola construction has also started and will later be added for non-skiers to be able to leave from Mountain Village to catch the tram to the peak.
Raczynski says everyone working on this tram is passionate and ready for it to open.
"I don't think you can do something like this with, you know, people slacking off or not giving it 100%," says Raczynski. "So everybody wants to get this done, everybody's excited about it and it really makes a project like this that could be extremely stressful and contentious and all that. It turns it into something that you can be proud of."
Vice President of Construction Chad Wilson says getting to where they are now with the tram didn’t come without challenges.
"Setting these tower cranes in place. We struggled with that for several weeks and finally found the right crew to help us assemble these," says Wilson.
"Missing, hitting weather windows, very narrow weather windows was a huge challenge with getting these installed. The elements on these tower cranes are up to 9,000 pounds in one lift for a helicopter. That's a lot. So we had to use Chinook helicopters," he added.
Raczynski says their international employees have some more work to do to get the tram running smoothly.
"It's really down to the Swiss right now as far as running the tram goes," says Raczynski. "So they're finishing up the last track rope right now and then they'll jump over to the haul rope and then they'll have to splice the haul rope together and then it'll be on to setting the cabins. And after the cabins are set, they can start the commissioning process, which is about a four to five-week process."
Although it may seem close to finished, Wilson says they aren’t quite at the home stretch.
"Knock on wood, we are kind of coming down the homestretch, of course. But, you know, we're not we're not relaxing quite yet," says Wilson. "Plenty of work left to do, a lot of unknowns with weather coming our way. So we're not quite relaxed enough to say we're feeling good about things, but definitely on the right track."