Wednesday, September 21

Splice up your life!

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Sep 21, 2022

Splice up your life!

At Banff Sunshine, our anticipated opening date is now less than two months away!! (Yep, that’s right we’re aiming to open for the 2022/23 ski and snowboard season on November 10th, 2022.) With our anticipated opening date fast approaching our lift maintenance team has all hands on mountain as they work to get our 12 lifts ready for the upcoming winter season. 


For our lift maintenance team, their biggest (and sexiest) project of the year is the replacement of both the Strawberry Express (built in 2010) and Wolverine Express (built in 2000) Haul Ropes. For both lifts, this marks a special occasion as this is the first time either lift will be adorned with a new haul rope. Our new ropes, like a fine Swiss watch, were handcrafted in Switzerland. 


The working life of a haul rope is typically measured in hours. While all ropes have their working life measured in hours, the hours a haul rope can run will vary based on several factors including the length of the rope, the climate and even the number of carriers. The longer the rope, the longer the working life. The dryer the climate the less corrosion the rope will suffer. 


Although Strawberry Express is a newer lift, its haul rope being shorter in length (strawberry has a haul rope that measures half a mile (1.6 km), and Wolverine Express has a haul rope that measures 2.6 km in length) results in the haul of Strawberry having a shorter working life. 


Replacing a haul rope is no easy task. To start, our lift maintenance team has to reduce the tension of the cable. Once the tension has been softened the team will cut the rope and gently splice the new rope onto the old to thread the new haul rope over the lift towers. Once treaded, the old rope will be taken off and the fun will begin as the new rope is spliced together. 


To perform the spice, at Banff Sunshine we bring in a Swiss master splicer. The act of the splice is an art. When splicing the lift cable, the steel strands on both ends are unbraided so they can be rebraided seamlessly together, for one SMOOTH ride. The haul rope is comprised of 6 steel strands that each consist of multiple steel threads wrapped around a plastic core. 


To unbraid the heavy duty haul rope, a team of 13 will hammer conical metal spikes between the twisted rope strands on either end. Once unbraided a couple of feet the plastic core will be removed from the cable to allow a space to tuck in the re-braided metal strands. Once both ends of the rope have had their strands separated, our lift maintenance team working under the leadership of the splice master will work to rebraid the steel strands back together. This process is time consuming, as perfection is required to ensure a smooth ride. As the strands are woven back together the conical metal spikes are removed. 


Once the splice is complete, the tension will be reapplied, and the rope will start is working life hauling skiers and snowboarders up the slopes of Banff Sunshine to carve up Canada’s Best Snow!