A K-MAX cargo delivery helicopter zoomed over Breckenridge Ski Resort Monday, July 7, increasing capacity for skiers and riders on Peak 8 starting this winter.
Starting at 8 a.m., the helicopter hauled in 20 towers for the resort’s new Colorado SuperChair.
The Colorado chair, Peak 8’s most-used lift, will be upgraded this summer from a quad express to a six-passenger express.
The resort was able to skip a step in the renovation after the foundation slabs under the lift’s old towers were tested and found to be safe and not in need of replacement.
“That was a huge win for the whole process,” said senior communications manager Kristen Petitt Stewart, because it reduced ground disturbance.
The new towers were placed right where the old ones stood. The next step is installing the loading and unloading terminals, which will be slightly smaller due to improved technology. Stewart said the bottom terminal will be moved about 5 feet up the hill.
Then comes placing the hull rope and the chairs and testing for safety. The lift is scheduled to open with the rest of the resort for the winter season Friday, Nov. 7.
This latest renovation represents a 30 percent increase in the lift’s capacity, Stewart said, and should help disperse skiers to the peaks around Peak 8.
The Colorado chair was installed in 1986 as a high-speed quad.
It was updated in 2002 from a chain-drive to a gear-drive system, and in 2012 its chairs were replaced. Those chairs will be used to upgrade the Beaver Run Chair this year.
Over the last 14 years, Stewart said, Breckenridge has upgraded and added several lifts.
In 1999, the resort replaced the world’s first high-speed quad, the Quicksilver lift, at the base of Peak 9 (installed in 1961), with the first double-loading, six-passenger, high-speed lift.
In 2002, the resort upgraded the Chair 4 lift to the Peak 8 SuperConnect and also installed the Independence Chair, Stewart said. The Imperial Express SuperChair and the Breck Connect Gondola followed in 2005 and 2007, respectively. The Kensho/Zendo Chairs were added in 2013 with the Peak 6 expansion.
The resort constantly evaluates its chairlifts and does upgrades when needed, she said, especially with control systems and software.