Barbara Lawlor, Eldora Mountain Resort. The sound of a helicopter hard at work buzzed over the Eldora Mountain Resort last Saturday morning. The chopper hovered over the lower parking lot, picked up a tower, flew to its given anchor spot on the mountain and lowered the tower, one of 17, precisely over the pre-constructed pad. Workers looked like ants compared to them, as they connected the 40-foot towers, bullwheels and cross arms.
Zooming up and back to the parking the lot, the helicopter picked up the wheels, which were attached to the tower, and then the platform was added. Three round trips took about 15 minutes and the six-pack was installed. It was time for celebration. A bottle of champagne was opened, and with a pitcher of orange juice, they had the makings for mimosas. The bubbly was poured into plastic cups and toasts were made.
EMR general manager Brent Tregaskis and former Olympian skier Scott Henderson clinked their cups and welcomed a new era at our local snowsports resort.
The helicopter pilot leaned out through his window as he flew overhead, making sure the equipment was swinging clear of spectators as he journeyed back and forth, back and forth.
With a projected finish date of November, by the time EMR opens for the season, getting all the towers installed is a major step toward completion. Tregaskis says the new lift will put Eldora in the same decade as other resorts. “We were one of the few resorts in the country that didn’t have a high-speed, detachable lift,” says Trevaskis.
When the season ended last spring, Cannonball and Challenge lifts were demolished, the chairlifts sold, and excavation began for the six-seater lift. From bottom to top, the chairs will cover 3,289 feet and rise more than 1,000 vertical feet in 4.5 minutes, carrying 3,600 riders per hour. The old lifts averaged about 11 minutes for a ride up the mountains.
Long time EMR visitors munched on pastries and bagels and gazed in awe as the helicopter accomplished a time-saving, money saving feat. When it is finished, the project will cost at least $5 million, but will change how guests use the mountain.
Spectators donned the new Eldora hats, which have a single pine tree as the new logo.
There is much work still to do but none of it will be as spectacular as watching the huge, 40-foot high towers swing through the air to be dropped exactly where they should.
With a six-seater lift, a whole basketball team could ride at once. The chairs could be the new site for a board of director’s meeting or an a cappella choir.
It is just the beginning of EMR’s quest to catch up and be all they can be next season.
(Originally published in the August 31, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)