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Rebuild MilestoneClean Up Complete

09 November, 2020

It's been a busy few weeks here but the Operations Team has checked off one massive portion of the rebuild process...the clean up.

Over the past several weeks, they have assessed the damage, secured the cable, long-lined cabins off the mountainside, spliced in new pieces of cable, tensioned the cable in order to lift up the remaining cabins, and remove them via the Base Station.

Assessing the Situation

The team carefully walked the lift line documenting the location of all cabins. They assessed the damage, resources needed, and created a plan to safely extract the cabins from the mountainside. It was determined that a multi-phased approach was the best method that would see some cabins removed via helicopter while others would be lifted up and removed via the Base Station.

Cue the Helicopters

Most of the cabins and two pieces of cable were removed via helicopter long-line. This is an intricate process that requires an immense amount of pre-planning and coordination of a team on the ground, in the helicopters, and at the base. The experienced team at Blacktusk Helicopter working in coordination with our Operations Team and crew from Rigging Specialties was instrumental in the seamless execution of this plan.

Cable Arrives and Flown Up the Mountainside

Teamwork shows up in all forms and in this case, it is Whistler Blackcomb Resorts offering to provide us with an extra 300m section of cable they had on hand. Combined with our own extra 300m section of cable, this allowed for a new creative solution to remove the remaining cabins on the line via the Base Station. The cable was delivered and set in place at the Base Station. Blacktusk Helicopter then flew one end of the cable up the mountainside where it was secured by a team on the ground.

Bringing it Together

The challenge facing the team was to attach the new section of cable into the existing cable to create one long, seamless splice. This manual task was made even harder by having to take place mid-span on the side of the mountain. The splice involves bringing the two cables to the ground and extending them past each other. The midpoint of the splice, where the two cables come together, is called the "marriage" point. On each side of the marriage, three strands are unwrapped, and then the corresponding strand from the opposite side woven in its place. The process is extremely physical work requiring many people to work together.

Splicing on Level Ground

Another splice was completed on much more level ground at the Base Station to create a continuous loop. The final step in the splice involves straightening the end of each strand. Once straightened these strands or 'tails' are wrapped and then manually tucked into the centre of the rope. By the end of this splice the team was getting so efficient they could tuck a section in only a few minutes.

We have a Loop

With the final splice complete, the continuous cable was brought up onto the bullwheel in preparation for turning the lift back on.

Start the Engines

With the cable up on the bullwheel, the team was able to start the lift and slowly bring the remaining cabins down into the Base Station for removal.

Celebration Time

After several weeks of putting themselves in harm's way to safely extract all of the cabins, it was time for celebration. We are so grateful and proud to work alongside our resilient Operations Team.

Photos: Haley Hardy, Emily Mary, Kirby Brown & Claire Halley