From south of town, the new upper tram terminal is visible. As you drive north into Jackson, the towers – catching the sunlight – come into view.
Sitting in the parking lot at Teton Village, you can see the four track ropes strung from the base all the way up to Rendezvous Mountain’s 10,450 foot summit.
We’re almost ready.
After pulling and tensioning the four track ropes this month, crews are now stringing the haul rope up the mountain through all the towers and back down again. And just last week, crews worked from a dummy carriage – a platform hung on cables – installing slack carriers to the track ropes. The 13 slack carriers will help maintain tension in the ropes and make the ride smoother for passengers.
So, the cables are ready, the slack carriers are hung. Now, we’re just waiting for tram-shaped packages to arrive. Despite being waylaid en route from Europe due to hurricanes, the two tram cars are now officially somewhere between Houston and Jackson Hole. They will arrive and be hung some time in mid-October. But, don’t bother coming out with your camera to shoot the shiny new cars; they will be enshrouded before even leaving the truck they came in on.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort hired Marmot, long-time Teton Village clothing sponsor, to create custom tram slip covers complete with plastic window covers and door zips. So, the tram cars will be dressed in Marmot suits until their official unveiling on December 19 or 20. Until then, you’ll just have to guess the hue of Cardinal red, the size of the bucking bronco and the sound your boots will make when you step into the car for the first time.
Meanwhile, Garaventa’s Swiss crews finished laying the galvanized metal decking on the top terminal, which now appears ready for action. The new terminal is wider than its predecessor, allowing for much more efficient on and off traffic flows, especially in summer when people ride the tram down as much as they do up.
The terminal also has a new mechanized off-ramp that lowers slightly against the tram, pinching it as it docks, so people can walk down on to the deck without taking a big step. Down at the clock tower, masons are laying rocks on the pillars and working on the frame of the tower itself from recently erected scaffolding. Behind the tower in the drive room, electricians are pulling wires in preparation of hooking them up to the drive.
While walking around the base, you’ll notice landscaping, a concrete patio in front of the ticket office and the missing stairs from the patio to Nick Wilson’s. When completed, the tram system will have skiers and riders load from the side closest to the ski hill rather than from the front.
Sticking to schedule and budget, tram project workers are waiting for the cars so they can test the entire system. From October on, it’s all about trouble shooting, testing and working out the bugs, says Tim Mason, Vice President of Mountain Operations.
“People are very excited,” he says. “The energy is high out here. They’re realizing that there really will be a tram this year.”
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