Cranes and helicopters are part of the action this month at Whitefish Mountain Resort with the installation of the new Bad Rock chairlift. The new lift will service winter and summer visitors to the resort.
"Five of the eight towers have been erected over the past three weeks," Spokesperson Riley Polumbus said. "The top terminal is complete, and we still have to do towers one, two and four."
Some of the towers have been flown into position by helicopter, while a crane has hoisted others into place. Hauling the cable for the chairlift to the site requires a feat in itself as the cable weighs 9,000 pounds. The base lodge webcam has been repositioned to monitor the progress of the lower terminal construction.
A crane lowers the sheaves to hold the cable onto the arm of Tower Seven. Photo Courtesy of Whitefish Mountain Resort.
The new Bad Rock triple lift will climb 461 vertical feet in the trees adjacent to the Bad Rock run. It extends 1,627 feet from the base lodge to its top terminal above Russ's Street.
The lift, which will run daily, does not access any new terrain, but is designed to ease congestion in the base area during winter. With the ability to haul 1,000 skiers per hour, the lift is expected to unclog the base area's Saturday morning and holiday crowds. Riders using the lift can access Chairs 1, 2, 3 and 4, plus the upper village.
Before Whitefish, Bad Rock had a past life. The 1972 Thiokol lift came from Mt. Tone, previously known as Sno-Hill. The Pennsylvania ski area closed down in 2004. Its Robin's Egg blue chairs and towers have been repainted black.
Sheaves to hold the cable are anchored into place on the arm of Tower Five, now painted black. Photo Courtesy of Whitefish Mountain Resort.
Bad Rock will also be used for summer Zip Line Tours. Tour participants will launch from above the lift's upper terminal on a new zip line. The new zip line, to be installed this spring, will bring the number of lines to seven.
The Bad Rock lift is the first of three lift improvements in the works at Whitefish. The other two lift improvements include extending Chair 4 back to its original top terminal at the Inspiration Ridge and moving Chair 5 to East Rim. The Chair 4 and 5 projects, which have already received approval from Flathead National Forest, may be scheduled within the next two to five years.