Skiers and snowboarders, rejoice: Commute times from the base of Mount Alyeska to upper mountain runs should be about twice as fast as last winter come opening day of the 2012-13 ski season.
Chair 4 -- the slow, lower-mountain chair lift situated outside the day lodge and running midway up the mountain -- was replaced this summer with a high-speed detachable quad. Construction went into overdrive in mid July when a Skycrane helicopter arrived to remove Chair 4's old lift towers. New replacements arrived the last week of July.
"The old chair 4 was a fixed-grip (lift). It took about 12 to 14 minutes" to get from the base up to mid-mountain, said Amy Quesenberry, an Alyeska Resort spokesperson. "What's most exciting to us is the speed of this new lift. It's about 40 percent faster, meaning a six-minute ride up."
All told, the chair-lift replacement and construction work cost about $6 million, Quesenberry added. The new lift is in pretty much the same location.
The new, faster Chair 4 will operating on opening day of ski season, currently scheduled for Nov. 21. Alyeska Resort 2012-13 winter season ski and snowboard passes are already on sale and include special pass-holder-only ski days and discounted hotel rates.