Middlebury College recently found that a 40-year-old chairlift at its ski facility, the Snow Bowl, was in need of repair and would not meet state regulations. Instead of spending $500,000 for repairs to the double-chair lift, a university release says, the college is spending $1.7-million to replace the old lift with a triple-chair version.
As the video below explains, some of the concrete foundations of the lift towers were failing. Workers could have replaced those concrete foundations, but that would have been considered a major modification that would trigger requirements to bring the rest of the lift up to code. Getting the concrete for the piers up the mountain, as you can see in the video, is no small project. The workmen have to use a helicopter to fly the soupy stuff to the forms on the hill. “Basically a yard at a time goes up the mountain,” says Peter Mackey, the general manager of the Snow Bowl. (Middlebury is known for its environmental sensibilities. It’s not clear how airlifting tons of concrete affects the college’s greenhouse-gas emissions.)
The project offers unique approaches in fundraising. The college will sell 100 lifetime ski passes for $5,000 each, along with with naming rights to the 104 chairs and 15 towers, also for $5,000 apiece.
Parts of the old ski lift are being distributed to ski resorts in New Hampshire and Massachusetts for reuse, which has saved the college up to $75,000 on the project.