News Roundup: Big Picture

 

Advertisements

Eaglecrest Considers Building Alaska’s First Gondola

Eaglecrest is the only ski resort in Southeast Alaska, a region seeing explosive growth in summer visitation thanks to the cruise ship industry.  While some consider cruises a threat to the ski business, a recent study concluded they could actually help publicly-owned Eaglecrest become profitable.  Over just five months, 1.3 million passengers will disembark in Juneau this year, a 17 percent increase from 2018.  Many existing attractions such as the Mt. Roberts Tramway are bursting at the seams and the city sees an opportunity for its ski area to become part of the solution.

The City and Borough of Juneau owns and operates four double chairlifts which date back as far as 1975.  Eaglecrest is the only ski area in the country located on an island and, while the ocean views are amazing, low elevation sometimes limits winter operating days.  A private concessionaire operates a small scale zip tour at Eaglecrest but no lifts currently spin in the summer as the ski area ramps down to just a dozen employees.

Eaglecrest’s current lifts are shown in red with the approximate proposed gondola alignment in orange.

Alaska’s capital city is considering a cash infusion to create a year-round adventure park with skiing, mountain biking, a gondola, zip lines, mountain coaster and more.  While the initial outlay is high, projections show the current $950,000 annual subsidy provided by taxpayers could be eliminated while expanding recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike.  The ski area could also be able to pay its employees more competitive wages and operate seven days a week in winter with the money gleaned from summer.

The most expensive component of the $34.9 million plan is a ten passenger base-to-summit gondola which would reach even higher than the current Black Bear and Ptarmigan chairlifts.  The gondola would become the primary summit access lift year-round, spanning almost 7,000 feet with 1,680 feet of vertical rise and 20 towers.  Capacity would start at 1,500 guests per hour with the ability to go to 2,400.  Both Leitner-Poma and Doppelmayr have provided bids in the $11.2 million range for the flagship lift with up to 59 cabins.  Power would be trenched up the mountain, allowing the gondola to be top-driven and providing grid power to the Black Bear double for the first time.

gondolaprofile
Preliminary gondola profile from Leitner-Poma of America.

Continue reading

News Roundup: Stay Tuned

News Roundup: Opponents