The power of six | AspenTimes.com

The power of six

Jon Maletz

Snowmass unveiled its much-anticipated Village Express six-pack on Thursday to rave reviews from the skiing contingent on opening day.Now a family of six can take a ride together – just separate the kids. Now a single can sit through a silent ride to the top of Sam’s Knob with five strangers. This six-pack is as quiet as it is uncommonly smooth. Those who start feeling antsy or fear conversation is turning stale or awkward have the option of unloading midway up, too. Think of it as an emergency exit. At peak performance, this lift travels at 1,050 feet per minute, carrying close to 3,000 riders per hour. That’s 550-600 riders per hour more than the old Fanny Hill lift, which was retired earlier this year.Turkey Day riders didn’t have a chance to witness that kind of speed or efficiency, however, as the lift was running at 85 percent, Snowmass manager Doug McKenzie said. An unforeseen glitch in the system was uncovered last week during a load test.Lift engineers and mountain managers loaded one chair with 1,500 pounds – the weight of six 250-pound guests, McKenzie said. When they ran the lift at full speed, then stopped it abruptly above the water plant building, the chair dipped to five feet above the roof. The problem: The lift’s 20 towers are insufficient, and another one will need to be added. “This was as much a surprise to the engineers as to us,” McKenzie said. “The only time that much weight would be on one chair is if the Broncos offensive line rides it.” In order to remedy the problem, a 21st tower will be installed by Christmas. It will not be attached to the lift, but will keep the chairs from excessively bouncing up and down during an emergency stop.So feel free to invite a Bronco or five skiing next month. Take an extra helping of mashed potatoes during Christmas dinner. This six-pack will keep you off the ground.

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