JUNEAU - Eaglecrest Ski Area's new Black Bear Chairlift will start the year off right by returning to operation today, one day earlier than expected.
Eaglecrest staff found a broken shaft on the lift during a routine visual inspection Dec. 23. The shaft helps control two of the lift's four braking systems.
Eaglecrest General Manager Kirk Duncan said initially they thought the lift was going to be closed for four to six weeks. They then thought with the help of local fabricator Freeman-Bell they might be able to get it back in operation by this Saturday.
In a press release from the ski area, Duncan praised Mike Bell of Freeman-Bell and Eaglecrest Mountain Maintenance Manager Nate Abbott for the quick repair.
Bell did "an outstanding job fabricating the shaft as quickly as he did," said Duncan, adding that production of replacement shaft involved milling some "very complicated keyways," and Abbot installed the shaft "quicker than I believed possible."
"Mike Bell and Nate Abbott deserve the gratitude of all the skiers and snowboarders in Juneau," Duncan said.
The $900,000 refurbished Black Bear chairlift, which opened for the first time Dec. 19, will operate through the weekend and will then operate every weekend and holiday through the end of the season. For more information and current conditions, visit www.skijuneau.com.