It seems like it was just yesterday when the old towers of the Deer Crest chairlift were plucked away by a powerful helicopter, and in less than two hours, nothing of the old infrastructure remained in sight. The older and slower equipment had been taken out in order to make room for the Mountaineer Express, a state-of-the-art chairlift that would combine comfort, safety and speed for skiers.
To read the first post from JF on removing the old Deer Crest chairlift, you can click here.
Earlier this month, a similar scene took place, another K-Max helicopter began to drop towers on the concrete footings that were still peppering the long opening extending from the bottom the hill to the top of Little Baldy amid trees and brush. The weather was perfect and a windy cold front had not quite settled in yet, so the powerful helicopter wasn’t too hindered in its task of picking up and dropping off its heavy loads.
Upon arrival at the scene, the helicopter pilot and the working crew held an all-important briefing to choreograph what would be a intense, three-hour operation. Thereafter, the work began in earnest and to an observer like me, it appeared to be executed totally seamlessly as if it had been rehearsed for weeks. The crew of about 15 and the pilot are experts at this kind of construction. They’ve been doing it in the most adverse conditions, high altitude, bad weather and even snow and work together extremely well. Most importantly, all fully appreciate the danger and pitfalls inherent with this type of work and are trained to leave nothing to chance.
Because of their higher elevation, the top towers, and particularly the 5,000 pound cross-arms and sheave assemblies, the heaviest components, proved too ponderous at times for the specialized aircraft. In two instances, the sheave assemblies had to be removed from the cross-arms and both elements had to be dropped separately onto the towers. Sometime, the pilot had to hover a bit longer, burn some more fuel in order to pick-up that extra air-lift that the heavy load would demand.
Of course, taking down towers is a lot faster than putting them back in, as the crew had to precisely wrestle super-heavy towers and cross-arms in place, and almost simultaneously, run bolts into them to secure everything in the right location. On two occasions, the chopper had to refuel to get the job done, but by morning end, a brand new set of towers had taken roots on Little Baldy Mountain at Deer Valley. In just a few weeks from now, we’ll all be experiencing a brand new, comfortable high-speed quad and we won’t even remember how skiing was on that side of the mountain before this new Mountaineer Express chairlift!