Workers put in place the last four towers that are part of a the new Black Bear chairlift under construction at Eaglecrest Ski Area on Monday.
The towers themselves weigh several thousand pounds and are up to 42 feet tall, General Manager Kirk Duncan said.
Three of the four were lowered in via helicopter and secured to concrete footings on the mountain, said Director of Sales and Marketing Jeffra Clough. Heavy machinery on the ground put up the fourth one.
The lift remains on schedule to open in the upcoming ski season. In the mean time, work is required on the new lift's terminals, the tower alignment checked, haul rope strung and chairs attached, Clough said.
The $900,000 lift is being paid for mostly through a temporary 1 percent sales tax for which voters approved an extension in 2005. Eaglecrest managers kept the cost low by buying a used lift and piggybacking on a state weather station project that brought to the mountain inexpensive electrical power and a service road to facilitate construction.
The new double chairlift should be able to haul 1,200 people an hour, a significant improvement over the Ptarmigan's chairlifts' 800 an hour, Duncan said. The new lift runs 4,500 feet long and climbs 1,100 vertical feet, terminating at the same elevation as Ptarmigan.
While it won't open up any new terrain, the new lift starts at a higher elevation where snow more readily accumulates, potentially letting the ski area open earlier in the season or in more marginal conditions, Duncan said. Having a second lift that goes to the top of the mountain will also create a redundancy or alternative if either one must be shut down because of wind conditions or maintenance issues.