Chair 2 work flying by | VailDaily.com

Chair 2 work flying by

VAIL — Gondola One and the trails surrounding it reopened to the public July 30 after closing to facilitate helicopter work on Chair 2, Avanti Express.

The chairlift is being upgraded to a six-passenger chair.

Helicopter work went faster than anticipated, said Sara Lococo with Vail Resorts, and operations on the mountain weren't impacted much.

"We heard it was out here and were hoping to see it," said part time Vail resident Juliet Nilprabhassorn, who was out hiking the Chair 2 area on Thursday with her husband, Andy Newell, and their 11-year-old son, Declan, and daughter, Fiona, 6.

"We were pretty excited about the upgrade when we saw the signs on the mountain this winter," Newell said. "It's an area we would avoid sometimes due to all the people there. If they have a person directing traffic like the new Chair 4 when it's busy, I'm sure it will work great."

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The plan for the new Chair 2 is indeed for it to operate much like the new Chair 4, which underwent an upgrade in the 2013-14 season to a six-person lift with a loading conveyor and gates. The upgrade is estimated to have improved efficiency by as much as 30 percent. The former Chair 2 — a Doppelmayr detachable quad — was installed in 1989 and has a maximum uphill capacity of approximately 2,800 people per hour.

The helicopter was needed Wednesday and Thursday to remove the old crossarms from Chair 2's lift towers fly in new crossarms. In total, 24 new crossarms and sheave assemblies were secured to the existing lift towers, Lococo said. Construction of the upper and lower terminals will take place next.

"We've been incredibly fortunate to invest more in Vail Mountain recently than most resorts can even dream of in a lifetime with six major lift upgrades since the 2007-08 season, improvements to snowmaking capabilities and a new fine-dining on-mountain restaurant. The transformations in town in the same time span have been equally impressive," said Chris Jarnot, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain. "All of these upgrades and investments truly speak to our commitment to the guest experience and keeping Vail at the forefront of the industry."