Welcome to Keystone

The Making of Peru: Mountain House Gets a Lift! 

This summer, we have been hard at work bringing the new, 6-passenger Peru Express Lift to life at the resort, in preparation for the 2021-22 winter season. This exciting new project will greatly enhance the on-mountain guest experience, improving skier and rider circulation and providing quicker and more efficient access to Keystone’s mountain playground. 

It takes a village (or a mountain 😉) to bring a massive project like this to life over a short summer period but we’re making great progress as we look ahead to the upcoming winter season at Keystone. 

Here is a look at the work that has taken place so far!   

May 15, 2021  

With a short summer season in the mountains, the project kicked off just as soon as the ski season ended with the removal of the old lifts. This project not only includes the removal of the old Peru Express, but also the neighboring double chair, Argentine.  

The Argentine chair was one of the original lifts at Keystone when we first opened in 1970, and while saying goodbye is never easy, we were able to auction off the old chairs to guests and employees so they could have a piece of resort history. In addition, the effort raised over $65,000 total with 100% of the proceeds from the public sale going to The Summit Foundation and proceeds from the employee sale going to the EpicPromise Employee Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing emergency financial assistance and scholarships to Vail Resorts employees and their families. Since inception in 2016, it has supported over 2,500 Vail Resorts employees with $5M in grants. The EpicPromise Employee Foundation is funded by an annual $500,000 contribution from Vail Resorts, and by donations from our employees, our guests, and community members. 

Argentine on Keystone’s Inaugural Opening Day in 1970
ABOVE: A helicopter was brought in to remove old towers from the Argentine and Peru lifts, Credit: Keystone Resort / Spence Linard
BELOW: (left) In-progress removal of old Peru top terminal, (right) Old Peru tower removed, Credit: Keystone Resort / Katie Young

June 22, 2021 

During June, Summit County experienced dry conditions and fire restrictions which meant that certain “hot work” tasks using flames were delayed in order to ensure the safety of the forest lands and our workers. In the meantime, our teams made headway with pouring new foundations for the top and bottom terminals – where guests load and unload, along with the locations of the future towers. Fun fact: after it has cured, a sample of the cement is sent off for analysis to ensure its quality. 

ABOVE: Foundation for the new top terminal of Peru Express
BELOW: Foundation preparation and pouring for the new Peru Express bottom terminal
Credit: Keystone Resort / Katie Young

August 5, 2021 

Foundation work continued throughout July, then at the beginning of August, thanks to some of the heaviest July rainfall in the last ten years and changes in our local fire restrictions, workers were able to continue “hot work” and begin removing tower foundations again. With a constant focus on safety, they were still prepared and equipped with water and extinguishers on site.  

Throughout this project, as well as others across Vail Resorts, we are committed to having as little impact as possible to the lands where we live, work and play. A project such as this one goes through an extensive NEPA process (National Environmental Policy Act) and we work closely with our partners at the U.S. Forest Service from start to finish. And with Vail Resorts’ Commitment to Zero, ensuring the preservation of the forest land surrounding the project was crucial. As pictured below, dirt from the new Peru construction was used to help restore the ground where Argentine once stood.

ABOVE: “Hot work” on an old Peru tower location
BELOW: (top left) Restoration of former top terminal location of Argentine, (bottom left) Construction of new Peru top terminal foundation, (right) Old Peru tower foundations
Credit: Keystone Resort / Katie Young

August 28, 2021

Up, up & away! The specially-designed Black Hawk arrived at Keystone for the pouring of our final tower foundations. Now that the tower foundations are completed, crews can begin work on prepping them for tower installations and focus on the large task of putting together the lower and top terminals.

September 10, 2021

Progress keeps moving forward and this week the crews began putting together the top terminal. This meant moving alllll of that heavy equipment up the mountain, then using a crane to get it into place. These pieces of the drive frame and acceleration unit are some of the most important pieces of what makes the lift really run and is one of the most technical aspects of the entire project. These mechanisms help slow down this high-speed chair as you get on and off, then speed up to quickly take you from the base to the top, for more time on the mountain.

September 28, 2021

We’re getting close! The top terminal is nearly complete and the bottom terminal is almost enclosed. The mechanisms inside of the terminals are a very technical and time-consuming part of construction, so it may not look like it from the outside, but so much progress has been made! The crews are also finishing final assembly on the tower foundations, so that those are ready for the towers to be installed using a helicopter in the next couple of weeks.

October 9, 2021

The helicopter was back in action, this time to fly the towers into place. Each tower pole is flown in and attached, then the crossbars are added. This milestone is so exciting to have reached and now we can add the haul rope and chairs, then really get things ready to debut!

October 27, 2021

Haul rope splicing is always a very exciting day in our lift projects! But what exactly is splicing? We’re glad you asked! In short, it’s the marrying of the two ends of the cable, so the chairs can go around and around and around. How it happens is a bit more difficult because the rope is made of steel wire all wound together tightly. Where the two ends meet, our teams have to unwind the strong steel then connect them by re-winding the wire together – like the two ends are holding hands! That’s why splicing often called “The Marriage” by the construction teams.

November 6, 2021

The big day is finally here! Load testing is a huge (and exciting!) milestone for the new lift. The crews load each chair with buckets full of water, to represent the weight of guests, and fill the chair to its capacity. This mimics the weight that will be put on the chairs once it is open to the public and is a crucial part of the lift certification process. With this complete, now we just wait for Mother Nature to give us a little more natural snowfall and cold temps, so we can open the Mountain House base area for the season!

With the chair tested and certified, the chair is set to debut in mid-to-late November. Stay tuned to our social channels for a specific date. Don’t forget to check out the capital project going on at our sister resort, Breck, right around the corner!