New Tram Brings Visitors to the Mountain’s Peak Like Never Before 

February 28, 2024Big Sky, MT Encore Electric teammates in Montana took their skills to new heights last summer building Big Sky’s new Lone Peak Tram. Positioned at 11,300 feet above sea level, the tram takes winter athletes and resort visitors to the top of Lone Peak to ski the mountain like they never have before.  

Big Sky’s new Lone Peak Tram is part of the resort’s 2025 Vision, a ten-year transformation to elevate the guest experience from mountain village to mountain top. The tram consists of two cars, each able to carry 75 passengers up the mountain at a time. New tram stations are positioned nearly a mile away from each other with a 2,000-foot elevation change from the mid-mountain station to the peak.

Encore Electric was tasked with powering the tram, partnering with Jackson Construction Group, tram provider Garaventa, and other project partners to build a powerful lift that can withstand the mountain’s conditions as it carries athletes to the peak.

Conditions on the jobsite at the top of Lone Peak impacted what the team built and how they built it. Weather on top of the mountain is rough most days out of the year with high winds, low visibility, and snow in addition to rocky terrain often active with mountain goats and bears.

There were just a few short months out of the year, June through September, when conditions on the mountain were mild enough to get people and materials to the jobsite. Construction teams approached the project in two phases, one throughout the summer of 2022 and two in summer 2023. Phase one included all electrical underground and conduits in the tram’s concrete base to power the tram controls. Phase two included the final electrical connections, lighting, and control room power to make the trams usable. Phase two of the project timeline was even more condensed for the Encore Electric team. All electrical needed to be completed for Garaventa to have plenty of time before the snow began to roll in to install and test the trams ahead of the season. Working in such short windows of time demanded a high level of planning, coordination, and creativity between project partners. Encore Electric electricians were often working right alongside the HVAC, concrete, and Garaventa teammates to maximize time on site.

“We always want to collaborate closely with our project partners, but this project took that collaboration to a whole new level,” said superintendent Michael Finch. “We were working in tight spaces on and around a mountain peak, we were keeping an extra eye out for our partners and how our work impacted them.”

A mountaintop project site required project teams to get creative in transporting people and materials to certain parts of the jobsite. While the lower tram station was accessible by car, getting to the upper tram station required a more creative mode of transportation: helicopters.

Teams had to plan and account for exactly what manpower and materials they would need for each day of the project, particularly for materials needed at the top of the tram, as these had to be transported via helicopter to that part of the jobsite.

Encore Electric teammates did more than just protect themselves and their project partners from the elements at the peak; they also took special precautions to protect the vital electrical infrastructure that would be at risk if left exposed. Certain electrical components were built in non-heated areas of the building, so the team built heated electrical boxes and panel boards and built surge protectors and meters inside heated enclosures to prepare the electrical to withstand sub-zero temperatures. The tram is also equipped with a backup generator and power system, ensuring tram users would not be stranded in the case of a power outage.

Encore Electric teammates were eager to rise to the challenges that came with building the one-of-a-kind Lone Peak tram. Working on a mountain peak few have the opportunity to see, let alone spend time building in, was an adventure that Encore Electric teammates embraced. 

“There aren’t many lifts like this ever built, to get the opportunity to work on something like this is once in a lifetime,” said Toby Debele, project manager. 

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