October 20, 2000

The Flight of the Towers

It was a gray miserable day soon giving way to a cold rain, but it was a good day for Fernie skiers nonetheless, for the hill thrummed to the beat of helicopter blades as lift towers swooped up into Lizard Bowl to take their place as part of the new Bear Chair. The awesome Sikorsky that was used for the Timber and White Pass chairs did not put in a repeat performance and the smaller helicopter could not whip the entire towers up with quite the same panache, but it was still a pretty impressive display.

The tower poles and top works had to be ferried up separately and bolted together up on the mountain while the helicopter hovered above. This was a scary looking operation and it seemed a key qualification for the guys up on the pole must be a morbid fear of aging. In one case where the tower had a particularly large set of bogey wheels, the helicopter apparently could lift the entire top, so one set of wheels was left off. The chopper then returned with the other set which they tried to feed sideways onto the main cross beam. It seemed nearly impossible to me that they could get the thing lined up as carefully as would be required to slide the thing on and indeed they ended up just leaving it dangling from the tower on the lifting cables, presumably to await a ground based crane. Fortunately it is in a location where that should be possible and overall the job appeared to go pretty smoothly and likely the whole operation only took three hours or so (I chose to drag my cold damp body back down rather than stay for the whole show).

While there is still lots of work to be completed before we are riding that chair, psychologically at least it seems much closer with the towers in place and the promise to have it ready in mid December seems much more plausible. Time will tell.

The steed receives a quick adjustment before returning to work.

where is latches on to a tower head set (or whatever the top of a lift tower is called).

A tower soars through the murky swirling skies.

Depositing a tower on its foundation just above Ballet.

Guiding a tower into place on Ballet, just above the Bear's Den.

The tower top is positioned with the help of a couple of guy with ropes.

The tower just below the Bear's Den

A tower banks above the Elk Valley as it makes its final approach.