Most ski resorts are built on top of tall mountains, offering some of the most beautiful and impressive views of nature.
While the mountains provide a fantastic backdrop to any ski holiday, it’s the cable cars that make the experience truly unforgettable. Installing a ski lift is both technologically and physically challenging. It requires a lot of climbing, and it’s certainly an arduous job. That’s why it’s not something that most people want to bother with. After all, there are simpler ways to enjoy the white fluffy stuff.
Here, we’re going to take a closer look at how the cables of a ski lift are installed. It’s not as easy as it seems, and it requires a certain level of expertise. If you’re thinking about installing one of these complex systems yourself, then read on to find out more. In this article, we’ll cover the following topics:
The History Of Ski Lifts
To understand the complexity of installing a ski lift, lets take a look at how they work and where they came from.
The earliest ski lifts were built in the 1930s and consisted of a simple mechanical two-seater chair. Even then, it was clear that this was not the way forward as there were already airplanes flying over the Swiss Alps at the time testing the air for snowfall. Back in the 1940s, the Swiss government mandated that ski lifts be electrified. This is how the modern day ski lift was born. It started out as a test case, with only one chairlift at Watnengrat serving as a small experiment.
In the 1950s, the number of chairlift installations grew steadily in response to rising demand and the advent of commercial ski resorts. In 1955 alone, the International Ski Federation (FIS) registered 74 official ski resorts, and the number of chairlift installations reached its peak in the 1960s.
How Do Ski Lifts Work?
Ski lifts operate by continuously raising and lowering a large metal tube known as a gondola. This gondola is attached to the top of a steel cable that is held up by several towers. As the rider boards the lift and settles into the seat, the attendant gives the go-ahead for the cable to start moving. The faster the speed, the greater the thrill. The more inclines there are, the greater the challenge. The faster a lift travels, the sooner you reach the top and the sooner you can get off again, triggering another round of glorious activity.
As the cable is being raised, the towers remain stationary and the riders stay put as well. This is important because without this feature, people would get quite disoriented as their perspective changes while traveling up. When the cable reaches the top, it stops abruptly and the attendant gives the command to disembark. Once the lift arrives at the top, it starts its descent. Just like that, your skiing experience is over. The process starts all over again as the next group of passengers get on board.
The Advantages Of Ski Lifts
There are several advantages to skiing with a ski lift. One of the most important is the ability to access more slopes. Without the use of a ski lift, it would be difficult to access the higher elevation ski runs. The top of the mountain would be unreachable because there’s no way for the average person to reach there. Now imagine the convenience for the skier. With a little courage and a whole lot of patience, he can reach any part of the mountain and ski all day, every day, regardless of the weather.
There’s another significant advantage to ski lifts. They allow expert skiers and beginners to mix and mingle, helping them to improve their skills. If a lift is installed close to a ski lodge where many trails meet, then beginner skiers can enjoy the benefits of a terrace with panoramic mountain views while meeting the experienced ski professional. This is one of the primary reasons why some resorts have invested so heavily in ski lifts.
The Disadvantages Of Ski Lifts
Not all ski lifts are created equal. There are several disadvantages to skiing with a ski lift. First off, the physical and mental challenge is significant. If someone wanted to take a break from their normal daily routine and install a ski lift at their home, then they’ll need to put in a lot of effort. They’ll need to climb up the mountain frequently to repair and maintain the lift. This is both physically and mentally challenging, especially as the lift has to be serviced and tested by a professional at least once a day. This is generally a full time job for a skilled professional, and they’ll need to undergo training as well, so it’s not as convenient as just riding down to the lodge.
Secondly, because of the complexity of installing a ski lift, it’s not something that most people want to bother with. This is one of the reasons why there are no cities with ski lifts in the UK. It requires a lot of expertise, and not only that but you have to have access to a lot of land. The good thing about this is that if you do decide to install one at your home, then it’s something you can work on with your partner, and perhaps even take on a professional to help you get it done right. Who knows, maybe one day the UK will have its own village with a ski lift.
What Materials Do Ski Lifts Usually Require?
Ski lifts usually require several different types of materials, depending on the style. One of the most important things to consider is the type of metal used for the cable. There are different grades of metal available, with the thicker the better and stronger the cable becomes. The thicker the cable, the greater the strain on the towers when deploying or retracting the cable, so the heavier the metal, the sooner the resort will have to replace the towers or the entire system will need to be rebuilt.
Where Do Ski Lifts Go?
Ski lifts do not limit themselves to one location, and this is one of the reasons why they are such important facilities. The cables can reach considerable lengths, so it’s not uncommon for two or more adjacent resorts to connect through a shared cable that reaches all the way to the top of the mountain. There are also combined ski village and mountain tops, with the village having a direct connection to the top through a gondola. This allows for the transfer of skiers and snowboarders from one resort to the other, without having to stop at the top to catch the next connecting cable. This type of arrangement is known as a supertrail.
Once the ski season is over, the snow drops and the terrain undergoes a transformation into a beautiful view of green grass and colorful flowers. It’s still a magnificent sight to behold as the sun begins to dry out the white stuff, turning it into golden powder that glows in the late afternoon sun.
To give you an idea of how challenging it is to install a ski lift, here’s a short film by Crested that gives an insight into what it’s like:
Complexity Knows No Boundaries
Complexity knows no boundaries, which is something that anyone who’s experienced even a little bit of construction work will understand. It’s one thing to plan the structure, but quite another to see it materialize before your very eyes. The more complex the design, the greater the satisfaction of seeing it completed successfully. Naturally, this is something that everyone dreams about, but few ever get the opportunity to do.
If you’ve ever tried building something yourself from scratch, then you’ll know how challenging it can be. It takes a lot of patience, and it doesn’t mean that your idea will be the same as the one you were given, but at least you’ll be able to call it your own and present it to the world as your masterpiece.
To wrap things up, let’s take a look at the geography of the Alps. The Alps are a group of mountains that run through much of central and northern Europe, with the highest peak reaching over 12,000ft. At the heart of the Alps, there’s an area of high snow and ice known as the Central Alps. This is where most of the ski resorts are located, including the greatest concentration of slopes, such as Val d’Isere and Courchevel.
Skiing in the Alps is among the most breathtaking experiences that one can have. The snow-covered peaks and the skiers creating incredible artwork are something that one has to see to believe. This is why the Alps are such a popular destination for tourists, and it’s also the primary reason behind the growth of the sport in recent years.