Deep Temerity nearly locked and loaded
Twelve lift towers. Around 7,300 feet of cable. A 55,000-pound terminal powering the chairlift from up top, a smaller terminal at the bottom.On paper, Aspen Highlands’ new Deep Temerity lift looks similar to other top-grip three-person chairs cable-transportation giant Poma-Leitner has installed. But installing Deep Temerity on the steep face of Loge Peak has been anything but ordinary. The same goes for the clearing of new trails below the old Grand Traverse, as well as clearing a new cat track called the Grand Reverse, which will take skiers and riders back to the base of the new chairlift.Highlands’ mountain manager, Ron Chauner, said the Deep Temerity chair will be one of the steepest in the world, servicing some of the steepest terrain in Colorado.”I can’t verify that it is the steepest [in the world], but any lift with an average cable grade of 52 percent – and that’s what this one is – is right up there,” Chauner said. “I don’t know, as far as the Poma installation, where there is a steeper lift.”The good news for the crews that have worked on Deep Temerity and the trail extension process since late March is that the project is nearing completion.A crew of cable-splicing specialists is completing the delicate process of connecting the two ends of the 7,300-foot cable. Workers will make sure all the electrical connections to the cable are working properly when it is rigged up. Chairs will be attached shortly thereafter, then the lift will be ready for a rigorous load-testing certification process by the state tram board.The cable-splicing process conjures images of weaving together a 7,300-foot rope.A crew of around 10 men, headed by Poma-Leitner cable splicing specialist R.J. McKnight, will unravel the ends of the cable, then weave the cable back into itself, Chauner said.”There’s no welding anything together. It’s like one of those Chinese finger puzzles,” Chauner said. “When the cable is tensioned after it’s spliced, it becomes a very strong unit. A trained eye can see where the splice is, but a normal person wouldn’t be able to guess where it is.”Chauner’s remarks on the cable-splicing effort could speak to the entire Deep Temerity project in general. When the lift and the new terrain open this December, the normal person probably won’t be able to guess how much effort went into expanding the expert inbounds skiing experience at Highlands. All the holes for the 12 lift towers were dug by hand because the terrain was too steep to access with heavy machinery. The process of pulling the 55,000-pound top terminal up to the summit of Loge Peak with a huge tractor was a hairy one, to say the least. “I wasn’t there [when the terminal was installed], and I’m probably glad I wasn’t,” said Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle. “I guess it’s routine stuff for the guys who install lifts.”Chauner also said the clearing of trails below the old Grand Traverse and the old Highland Bowl catwalk was a careful process done with the intent of making the new terrain have a different feel from the existing terrain above.The Aspen Skiing Co. crews that helped clear the new trails consisted of ski patrollers or expert local skiers and snowboarders with a passion for the project, Chauner said. “Some of the runs are naturally cleared because of avalanche chutes,” Chauner said. “The parts that weren’t cleared, we didn’t want to do a wall-to-wall clear. … There was a real sense of accomplishment present throughout the project. You build the Grand Reverse, the new Highland Bowl catwalk, and see some of the new runs, and it’s hard not to get excited. To see the scope of that project and know that people are going to be skiing and boarding down this stuff, that’s what it’s all about. This new lift is going to open up a whole new world of terrain.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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