It has been quite the busy summer since the City Assembly allocated a total of $2.5 Million dollars for the purchase, transportation, and initial design of the Pulse Gondola from Austria. Back in April, as soon the ski area closed we were able to go over to Galsterberg Ski Area with, Alan Steffert from CBJ Engineering and Jamie Bunch a ski lift engineer from SCJ Alliance. While in Austria, we were able to review historical operational records, repair records, and original construction drawings. We rode the lift and performed many operational tests. These inspection trips allow a detailed look at what modifications would need to be made to reinstall the lift at Eaglecrest. The final report provided a road map for the ongoing engineering work. The lift had a long history of trouble-free operation. We were all impressed with the quality of the ride experience.
The week after our April visit the Gondola was decommissioned in preparation for loading into open-top containers for transportation to Juneau. The gondola is now fully unloaded into the Lower Nordic Parking Lot. Over the next couple of weeks, parts will continue to be reorganized to maximize parking for the winter season with the equipment being fenced off once the organization is complete. Due to the shortage of Global Shipping containers, it was not an option to leave the parts in the containers that they were transported in. The estimated freight cost for transport was $845,163.
Northwind Architects has been contracted as our lead consultant to perform all of the engineering and design work to lead us up to installation and operation. Underneath their leadership are the following subcontractors:
SCJ Alliance: Gondola Engineering
PND Engineers Inc: Geotechnical/Foundations Structural
Corvus Design, Inc: Wetland Delineation
RESPEC: Civil, Electrical, Mechanical Engineering
57 North: Professional Land Surveying
Estimations Inc: Cost Estimation
The design work is currently on track with our desired schedule. The final location and profile for the alignment set with the base station being located behind the Tower Bar Tent adjacent to the bottom of Hooter and the top station at the top of the Stairway to Heavenly on Pitman’s Ridge. The 12 Gondola Cabins will be configured into four pods of three cabins that will rotate the line allowing 45 people to load the Gondola every 3.5 minutes. We will have a mid-way loading and unloading station at the midway point located just below the Avalanche Beacon Park in the flats below Raven. The four-pod configuration will allow all of the cabins to be parked in Terminal buildings during the night to protect them from wind and icing when the lift is not operating. All of the 22 towers and 3 terminal locations have been staked on the ground and Geotechnical work has been completed. This involved digging holes at the tower and terminal location to assess the stability of the ground and help the structural engineers design the proper foundations.
We hope to be able to solicit a construction Request for Proposals (RFP) by early January to allow us to engage with a general contractor and source materials needed for constructing the tower foundations by spring. It is currently too early in the stages of construction to know exactly when construction may be completed however our best guess is to have the Gondola completed sometime in the summer of 2024. We hope that there may be some opportunities to accelerate the timeline but are currently being conservative based on supply chain slowdowns being currently faced on most commercial construction projects.
Discussions continue with Goldbelt Corporation on a partnership agreement for funding for the installation of the Gondola, Summit Lodge, and other activities. We are honored to be in collaboration with our local Native Corporation on this exciting project.
Throughout the winter months, we will be following recommendations from the Ski Lift Master Planning firm the SE Group, and our engineers at SCJ Alliance and will be refurbishing the major componentry such as the Motor and Gearbox. Other important components will be sourced new and specifically designed for the new alignment and configuration such as the electrical control system and haul rope. The Gondola Cabins will also be refurbished with new windows, paint, and graphics. Once complete the Gondola is going to be something that Juneau and Eaglecrest will be quite proud of.
We thank the Assembly for their support in kickstarting this project and creating an opportunity for Eaglecrest to begin a new era of year around operations and financial sustainability that will allow for continual improvements and upgrades to our other aging infrastructure as well as having the ability to provide competitive wages for our staff.
The image below will show where the Gondola will be positioned relative to the ski area boundary. The existing lifts are shown in the color red, the Gondola in yellow and the current ski area boundary in blue.
We’re looking forward to seeing you on the slopes in the weeks to come.
Related: Watch the Pulse Gondola webinar and Q+A that took place in February 2022.