More than 5,000 miles from Juneau over the top of the world, the newest addition to the Eaglecrest Ski Area is getting broken down into pieces and readied for shipping across two oceans to Juneau.
Eaglecrest’s general manager Dave Scanlan is on the ground in Austria, working with the crews in Rupetine, Austria as they ready the gondola for shipping.
“The loading process has been going very well,” Scanlan said in an email. “I am working side by side with the loading crew which is allowing me to literally touch every piece of the gondola as we place them into the shipping containers. We loaded out 11 containers the first week.”
The gondola is being located in central Austria, southeast of Munich, Germany, and Salzburg, Austria, high in the Alps.
“The loading is taking place in the small town of Rupertine, Austria,” Scanlan said. “This is about 10 miles from the famous resort village of Schladming, which is where I am staying.”
Crews are loading parts of the gondola in relays, Scanlan said.
“The first round of containers, each truck drove all of the way to Rupertine from the port in Rotterdam which was a two day drive each way,” Scanlan said. “For the second round of loading we have been able to haul the empty containers via rail way to the major city Salzburg which is an hour and a half from the loading site. This will create much more efficiency and will be easier to ensure that the trucks are on the loading site exactly when we schedule them to be there.”
The loading company crews are breaking down the components of the gondola to most efficiently transport the material in the lowest number of containers, Scanlan said.
“We are doing our best to be as efficient with every container load as we possibly can,” Scanlan said. “The staff with the loading company are very experienced in fitting these pieces into the containers. It is very impressive. It is like a large jigsaw puzzle on steroids.”
Once containerized, the components make their way north via road and rail to the port of Rotterdam, one of the largest ports on the planet, before making their winding way across thousands of miles of sea to Juneau. The final cost of the shipping effort will be unknown until everything is processed and shipped through Lynden Transport’s system, Scanlan said.
“Once the containers set sail from Rotterdam they will sail down through the Panama Canal and up to Seattle where they will clear customs and be handed off to (Alaska Marine Lines) for final transport to Eaglecrest,” Scanlan said. “Estimated time from sailing will be 7 to 8 weeks. Hopefully we will see the first containers arrive at Eaglecrest in Early to mid-September.”
Unfortunately, Eaglecrest patrons are unlikely to see gondola functional next year, Scanlan said.
“The installation process will be a very complicated, involved process that may not be complete until the fall of 2024. Supply chain issues and labor restraints are going to be the biggest driver of the timeline as we go forward,” Scanlan said. “We’re in the process of finalizing the contracts with our design team which will be led by Northwind Architects as the prime consultant.”
Somewhere not over the sea, Eaglecrest is having a good summer, said marketing manager Kristen Strom, with season passes up for sale.
“Things are going pretty well. We just got a bunch of snowmelt so we just got the mountain bike trails running,” Strom said in a phone interview. “There’s been some trail maintenance, working on the hiking trails.”
Heavy snow up top closed off some trails, which forced runners for the Eaglecrest Road and Ridge Run to cut their usual 10 mile route down to nine and change the other weekend. The ski area will also get a zip line running soon, Strom said.
Overall, Scanlan said he’s heartened by the progress with the gondola.
“To sum it up in a couple of words, things are going very well,” Scanlan said.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or email@example.com.