Big Sky Resort celebrated the official groundbreaking of tram construction alongside the partners bringing this project to life. Many years of planning have taken place prior to this moment, and the Resort is grateful to have talented people from all over the globe working on one of the capstone projects in the Big Sky 2025 plan.
While winter was on everyone’s mind on the snowy day, General Manager Troy Nedved spoke to how the entire mountain experience will be changed by the addition to our mountain. “This project is about so much more than just skiing,” said Nedved. “The new tram will add opportunities for sightseers to enjoy the summit of Lone Peak in the summer. Coupled with the future gondola, it will allow for pedestrian access to the summit for the first time ever.”
The construction of the original Lone Peak Tram was no easy task, and its replacement comes with lots of challenges as well. Despite the weather, work is progressing on schedule for the anticipated opening in Winter 2023.
Big Sky Resort would like to thank our partners for celebrating the groundbreaking of the new tram with us and for all their hard work:
- Doppelmayr and Garaventa
- Jackson Contractor Group
- Condon Johnson & Associates
- GSBS Architects
- Big Sky Resort Mountain Operations teams – Lift Maintenance, Ski Patrol, Lift Operations, and many other supporting team members
Excavation Begins on Lone Peak
Excavation has begun for the new tram’s top terminal on the summit of Lone Peak, digging amongst higher than average spring snow accumulation. Last week, the mini excavator was flown to the top of Lone Peak at 11,166 feet above sea level by a heavy-lift Chinook helicopter.
The top terminal’s foundation will be secured with rock anchors drilled into the bedrock, which minimizes the amount of excavation and concrete needed. The excavation happening now is to dig a test hole for the rock anchors. Operating heavy machinery on the peak does not happen frequently, but our Mountain Operations team and contractor Condon Johnson both bring years of experience to the job.
"We're excited to be up there doing work,” says John Knapton, Big Sky Resort’s mountain manager. “The crew is right on schedule despite one of the snowiest Mays I can remember in my 25 years working on Lone Mountain." Excavation will continue on and off throughout the summer when conditions permit.
Snow Clearing & Equipment Loading to the Summit
Construction on the new tram coming to Lone Peak started off with a blast. Since Big Sky Resort closed for the winter season on April 24, three to four feet of snow has fallen on the summit. While the spring precipitation is welcome, beginning construction for the new tram required blasting a large cornice overhanging the eastern face from the summit. Ski patrol fired off 56 pounds of explosives, rappelling off the cornice to bury charges in the snow. Burying the charges helps remove more snow, exposing rock and kickstarting the melting process.
“This was a special mission in a different way,” said Mike Buotte, Big Sky Ski Patrol’s director of snow safety. “Unlike the work we do during the ski season, this was less about mitigating avalanche hazard, and much more about snow removal from the summit.”
With the construction platform on the summit safely created, a Chinook helicopter transported equipment that will be used in the construction of the tram’s new upper terminal and tower. The dual-rotor helicopter made five passes to the peak, carrying an 8x8’ toolbox, air compressor, fuel cell, skid steer, and mini excavator. Big Sky Resort’s Lift Maintenance team was on hand at the launch site to rig the equipment to the helicopter, and on the summit to receive each drop. Due to the small construction site and remote location with no service road, much of the construction will be done by hand, with helicopter supply drops happening frequently.
Snow removal and the installation of safety equipment on the summit will be the next big steps to move forward with construction. At the lower terminal, snow removal and surveying are taking place to prep for groundwork and concrete pouring.