Monday, July 27, 2015

Vail's huge summer upgrades

Not too long after Vail bought Park City Mountain Resort, they announced plans to merge it with Canyons, creating the largest ski area in North America.  In a normal year, a resort will spend between 1 and 5 million dollars updating the resort.  The $5M normally only occurs when a new, major lift is going in.  This year, Vail announced they were spend $50M in a single summer in Park City.  That's so far beyond anything we have ever heard of, it is almost hard to imagine.

You can read a bit of plans and updates here.

Building a large restaurant and 3 ski lifts on the back side of a mountain can be quite the challenge.  How do you get all those materials there?  You start by staging everything in the PCMR park lot.  These are new lift towers.
These are odds and ends, including tops for the towers.
Then you bring in this beast.  I would describe this as a flying jet engine with a small seat.  The cabin is just big enough for the pilot to get into.
Helicopters have a hard enough time in the thin air at elevation.  Flying with big loads over windy mountain ridges has to be nasty!
This helicopter looks weird.  First, it has two counter-rotating blades. That would be odd enough, but the blades are offset by about two feet.  Looks closely at the centers of the two blades.
It was taking it about 5 minutes to make a round trip.  Pick something up, fly it over the mountain, drop it off, and come back for more.  I am sure this type of helicopter costs a fortune per hour, so you don't leave it sitting around.
Everything on the ground was already prepped for pickup so there was no delay.  These guys at the bottom of the cable had a miserable job.  The helicopter kicked up a LOT of wind and in a dirty mountain parking lot, that means choking dust and swirling debris. 
Jasper and I enjoyed watching a handful of flights before they had to stop the copter for refueling and a pilot break.  I wish Vail luck with this.  They have a tremendous amount of work to get done in a very short building season. If it starts snowing early this year, completion may be a huge fight.


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