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Eaglecrest improvements add capacity and green energy
Published: 11/19/2009 18:33:00
The latest on Eaglecrest's improvements for the 2009-2010 season
VIDEO: The latest on Eaglecrest's improvements for the 2009-2010 season (Image: Mikko Wilson / KATH-TV)


Workers load-test the electric motor of the Ptarmigan chairlift in preperation for the 2009-2010 ski season.
Workers load-test the electric motor of the Ptarmigan chairlift in preperation for the 2009-2010 ski season. (Mikko Wilson / KATH-TV)

The Ptarmigan chairlift's new electric motor allows for a much quieter and greener operation.
The Ptarmigan chairlift's new electric motor allows for a much quieter and greener operation. (Mikko Wilson / KATH-TV)

The new harded base on parts of the Nordic trail allows for better summer access.
The new harded base on parts of the Nordic trail allows for better summer access. (Mikko Wilson / KATH-TV)

Over the past few years, Eaglecrest Ski Area has undergone some pretty noticeable upgrades. We got details from area manager Kirk Duncan.

"We've got a new chairlift, the Black Bear chair is being constructed and will be finished up and we'll load test that on the 23rd of November. And then we've just switched Ptarmigan over to electric operation. And we've also put in a mile of hardened Nordic trail this summer, so lots of stuff going on" explains Duncan.

The new mid-mountain Black Bear chairlift is on the east side of the mountain and allows for not only improved access to the east side of the mountain and a shorter hike to the Pittman ridge, but also potentially an earlier opening for the Ski Area in the future. It also adds 1,200 people an hour in overall lift capacity to the mountain, which should lead to shorter lift lines.

Duncan comments "When ski areas build chairlifts, they often don't know what's going to happen. So right now on a busy Saturday there can be a line on Ptarmigan, so if people decide to go up and ski the east side that will just relieve that line on Ptarmigan. We'll see what happens."

Not only will the line be shorter, but loading Ptarmigan should be a much nicer experience.

According to Duncan "Ptarmigan basically is a brand new lift. We've got an electric motor in there now - before it was a diesel drive - we kept the diesel drive but we also have a brand new electric motor."

The ski area was recently connected to the Juneau power grid, allowing the use of green electricity from the Snettisham & Lake Dorothy hydro power plants instead of the diesel generators that have run the lodge and lifts until now.

Nate Abbott, mountain maintenance manager at Eaglecrest told us that all of Ptarmigans electrical & control systems have been rewired. He comments "For the guests; what the guest is going to notice, most of all is it's going to be quieter."

In addition to the lift upgrades, the Nordic trails have also been improved.

Duncan elaborates: "Our lower loop out here outside the base lodge, we've got 8K - 8 kilometers - of groomed Nordic trails. We hardened a mile of that trail so it can be used in the summer time for bicycling and that sort of thing, plus it holds snow better in the winter time. And next summer we'll put in another mile which will connect the lodge to the forest service land and the Treadwell Ditch."

http://www.skijuneau.com

By: Mikko Wilson - mikko@kath.tv