Alaska’s Eaglecrest Ski Area would bring a first-of-its-kind gondola to North America under a plan spearheaded by General Manager Dave Scanlan. The pulse gondola, currently in service in Austria, features a dozen 15 passenger cabins built by Austrian manufacturer SSG in 1990. At Eaglecrest, the gondola would span approximately 6,600 feet with a 1,700 foot vertical rise. An intermediate station would allow for loading and unloading as pulses of cabins slow down for stations. When not in stations, gondolas would accelerate to a brisk 7 meters per second. “Pulse gondolas are mechanically simple, durable, and easier to maintain than traditional detachable gondolas,” Eaglecrest notes. The main downside of pulse lifts is their relatively low capacity.
The idea is not only year round ridge access for locals but also an attraction appealing to the million-plus cruise passengers who visit Southeast Alaska each summer. The Goldbelt Tramway in nearby Juneau pioneered ropeway sightseeing in the region and two new Doppelmayr gondolas are set to debut on Chichagof Island this summer. Both existing attractions are owned and operated by Alaska Native tribes, the latter one in partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line.
Eaglecrest operates as a non-tribal local government facility with a lean budget. Longtime blog readers may recall the ski area proposed building a Doppelmayr or Leitner-Poma gondola in 2019. A lot has changed since then and Scanlan says the new gondola would now cost $22 million, taking upwards of five years to complete. The used gondola would cost taxpayers around $7.5 million and could generate revenue needed to replace Eaglecrest’s main chairlift in five to eight years.
Eaglecrest Ski Area is working with SE Group on the gondola project and plans to host a public information session this Wednesday night at 6:00 pm Alaska time.