Heavenly set to tie knot | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Heavenly set to tie knot

Heavenly ski resort is nearly ready to tie the knot on the $30 million gondola.

Splicing specialist Richard Ryer and a crew of eight Heavenly employees will spend a total of 24 working hours to set six anchors over a span of 300 feet, creating a seamless lock on the 26,000-foot-long gondola cable.

“It’s the longest one I’ve ever done,” said Ryer, who has spliced thousands of cables across the country.

Hydraulics stretch the cable to match the weight of all 138 gondola cars, which weigh a total of 220,000 pounds empty or 303,600 pounds totally occupied, said Andrew Strain, planning director for Heavenly. Excess cable at either end is produced from the hydraulic tension. This extra cable is reinserted into the cable to hold it intact.

“They are unwrapping the two ends of the wire rope and then resplicing it together in the proper places, so there is a good sturdy connection,” said Strain.

Massive vices were used to hold the 2 1/4-inch thick cable together. Using large chisels (about 3 feet long) and mallets, workers pried apart sections of the six layer cable like a can of sardines. Under the absolute direction of Ryer, the crew unwound the cable and replaced the rope core with metal.

Once to the end of a section, a piece of wood was held behind the excess core while a crewman cut it with a power saw, sparks shooting to the ground. The rest of the core is wound inside the coiled layers, sealing the cable.

The cable will need to be tested with all cars on the cable for three weeks and certified by the U.S. Forest Service and California Occupational Safety and Health Administration before the gondola can open.

The gondola, considered by many to be the centerpiece of Park Avenue Redevelopment, travels 2.4 miles from Park Avenue near Stateline to the base of Heavenly’s Tamarack Express Chair in just under 12 minutes.

Those who ride the Gondola will also be able to stop at the midsation at 9,121 feet, which provides peripheral views from Echo Lake to the Carson Valley.

Heavenly plans to open the Gondola on Dec. 21.

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