The Inertia for Good Editor

I’ve personally never seen or paid much attention to what goes into building a new chairlift. Logically, when you’re a resort inviting thousands of people to come use your floating people mover chair through snow-covered mountains, I guess you have to be on your p’s and q’s when it comes to quality construction. So chairlifts are a bit more complex than they look.


A video posted by Sun Valley Resort in Idaho shows crews clearing the way for a brand new lift, from simple excavation to full-on detonations. The latter was another piece of the puzzle I never really put much thought into, and that sent me down a rabbit hole of learning just how arduous the process can be when a resort decides to build a new chair. And according to multiple sources there are only a handful of companies operating that are capable of taking on the entire process from start to finish, from securing the proper parts to employing the engineers who will put it all together. There are the previously mentioned explosives, cables that can undergo strenuous weight tests, massive pulleys, and in some cases, using helicopters to install the multiple towers that dot a lift line. In 2010, for example, Vail’s Chair 5 had an air team and a ground team coordinating the construction of 20 individual towers with a helicopter.

“If you’re on one of these projects, you’ll never look at a ski lift the same way,” said Ben Morello, who was part of that construction team, adding that each tower weighs about seven to eight thousand pounds.


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