Blog | Ski Industry News

Three Things to Know About Big Sky’s Lone Peak Tram

by Greg Colquitt | October 11, 2021

The Lone Peak Tram at Big Sky Mountain Resort is a “if you know you know” situation.

If you don’t know, you should get to know because there are few experience quite like it in this world. There’s something very special about cramming into a small floating closet with 20 of your best friends (NOTE: this will be different in the 2021/22 season), suspended, at times, 500ft above the ground like the glass elevator in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. After the quick four minute ride, you’re standing on top of the world. You’ll want to snap a pic.

Beyond all the glory of the tram, though, there are a few things you probably didn’t know. These are fun facts you can share with folks when you do ride the tram this season that will make you sound like a real cool cat.

 

1. The base of the Lone Peak tram is moving

Yes, it’s on the move, albeit very slowly. The base of the Lone Peak Tram sits on what is called a rock glacier. Essentially, a rock glacier is a layer of ice insulated by a layer of loose rock that prevents it from fully melting in the summer. It does, however, melt a little bit and as such, the glacier moves down the mountain. When engineers were making decisions about how to shuttle people to the top of Lone Peak, they had to consider this movement.

Photo Credit:
Twila Moon | University of Washington, Earth & Space Sciences

This is part of the reason Big Sky elected to construct a tram and not a gondola or a lift. Gondolas and lifts require towers, whereas a tram is just one long stretch of cable from bottom to top, and the base can move a little bit without buckling the entire infrastructure. Since its installation in 1995, the base of the Lone Peak tram has moved a couple feet. That wouldn’t be so good for towers dug deep into the ground.

So next time you’re cruising down Liberty Bowl off the top of Lone Peak, remember–you’re not the only thing moving downhill.

 

2. The insides of the tram cars were originally painted pink.

Allegedly this had a calming effect on passengers, though the pink has since come down. It’s a smart idea to soothe passengers. The 11,150ft unloading site can be a lot to handle, which is highlighted by the tale of a passenger having to crawl off the tram while his kids pranced happily around him. If it were up to me to soothe passengers, though, I might have elected for a soft blue.

 

3. If you fart in the Lone Peak tram, it’s there to stay.

To wrap things up, how about passing off some stinky humor? I don’t know what happens in this circumstance from experience, obviously, but the folks at Sky Lab Media House took the plunge and uncovered the mystery we were all curious about. Please enjoy.

 

 

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