Jackson Hole readies to debut $32 million ski tram

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— Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in northwest Wyoming is set to debut its new $32 million aerial tram - the first large-scale tram to open at a U.S. ski resort in about 15 years.

"For the classic big tram that you think of in Switzerland, that type, we just don't get that many built over here in the U.S. very often," Sid Roslund, director of technical services with the National Ski Areas Association, said Wednesday.

The Jackson tram will be unveiled Dec. 19, the culmination of a nearly two-year construction project. The ski resort is planning public ceremonies with fireworks and other events.

Each of the tram's two cars carry 100 passengers. They will make the 4,139-vertical-foot trek up Rendezvous Mountain in nine minutes.

The new tram replaces one with cars that carried about 55 passengers and took 12 minutes to reach the mountain top. The old tram had been in operation for 40 years and was shut down in 2006 over concerns about the cost of keeping it running safely.

The project is the single biggest investment at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort since the current owner, Jay Kemmerer, bought the resort in 1992, spokeswoman Lisa Watson said.

Roslund said the last new aerial tram to be installed at a U.S. ski resort was in the early 1990s at Alyeska Resort south of Anchorage, Alaska.

The geology of U.S. ski resorts typically doesn't require large tramways, he said.

The Jackson resort tram allows skiers to make a 4,100-foot vertical run without having to get on and off multiple lifts, Roslund said.

Tramways are different from most other gondolas and chair-type lifts in that they have large spans between the towers that support the cables, he said.

"Tramways are like Superman, you're able to do great spans in a single leap," Roslund said.

Watson said ski lift tickets to ride the tram as well as all the other lifts at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort will run $82 a day at non-peak times. The fee will be $87 a day during peak ski times around holidays.

The resort opened for the season on Nov. 29.

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