A Vancouver Island Helicopter lifts towers to be placed along the SilverStar Mountain hillside for the new gondolas Wednesday, which will replace the old green Summit chairlift. A crew member (below) goes for a little ride as he tries to grab hold of one of the towers being put in place. For more on the milestone event see the full story on page 3 and visit www.vernonmorningstar.com for video of the spectacle. (Jennifer Smith/Morning Star)

SilverStar reaches new heights with gondola

Vernon ski resort installing new feature, with opening date set for July 7

The installation of gondolas at SilverStar Mountain is no small feat.

In fact, reinforcements from Vancouver Island, Quebec and even Russia were brought in to assist.

The installation of 11 towers for the resort’s new gondola got underway Wednesday alongside the old green Summit chairlift.

A Komov KA-32 helicopter from Vancouver Island was flown in, equipment built in Quebec was shipped up and a team of professionals made quick work of the large task. The massive red and white chopper, adorned with maple leaves, was an impressive sight for all, as this type of aircraft was originally a military helicopter developed for the Soviet Navy. These machines had a weight capacity of 8,700 lbs while making short work of the tall order.

“These helicopters are specially designed to carry heavy loads,” said Wesla Wong, media, sales and communication for SilverStar. “The targeted time is four hours to fly in the 11 gondola towers.”

While that target wasn’t quite reached, the towers, tower heads and assemblies were slated for completion by the end of the day Wednesday after starting that same morning.

Dopplemayr Lifts Limited and Vancouver Island Helicopters worked together for the milestone day alongside the local ski resort. The $10 million budgeted project is aimed for completion by July 7, when a celebration including free gondola rides will take place.

“A gondola is really exciting because we fell the gondola will be able to not only move more people up and down the mountain, but it will also open the door to hikers, for example, in the summer who may not want to take a chairlift, they can take a gondola. And for skiers there are ski racks outside of the gondola,” said Wong.

“It’s just more efficient and it’s very scenic as well. Now that it’s at SilverStar we hope that people in the Okanagan valley will come and check out the gondola and do something fun with the family. Both kids young and old can come enjoy a scenic ride the sky.”

There are 21, eight passenger cabins which that will be installed initially, but a maximum of 42 cabins could be realized. That means between 1,200 and 2,400 people per hour will be whisked up the mountain.

The ride time at the maximum line speed of 5.08 m/s is 4.4 minutes. At that speed there will be a cabin loading every 24 seconds.

The gondola will travel 1,063 metres up the Summit at a vertical rise of 293 metres.

Save the date as the gondola opens July 7 with a special party at the Star.


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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