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Maintenance underway on Peak 2 Peak

'Track rope slipping' taking place for the first time

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Maintenance is underway on the Peak 2 Peak.

The process — called "track rope slipping" — is a standard procedure that needs to be done every five years.

"The whole purpose of the job here is to relocate the rope that sits on the towers," said Tom Richards, lift maintenance with Whistler Blackcomb (WB).

The Peak 2 Peak is what's known as a tri-cable lift - two exterior cables stabilize the gondola cabins while a third in the center propels them.

"So the same section of rope sits on the towers all the time, year after year," Richards said.

"It just has to be moved so that we get a look to see if the rope is corroded, or if there's been any damage from sitting in the same place for year after year."

To assist with the process, WB contracted a company out of Switzerland called Garaventa Liftech.

"Around the world, the Swiss are famous for being the riggers, the rope guys," Richards said.

"We wouldn't do it without them."

Along with generations of expertise, the Garaventa crew brought with it some $2 million in specialized equipment, some of it brand new.

"They brought three shipping containers with them from Switzerland, jam packed," Richards said.

And setting up that equipment and prepping for the move takes up the bulk of the job, Richards said.

"Once you're actually moving the rope things go along pretty quick," he said.

"The first two ropes that we moved took about a day and a half to do the move and almost six days of setup."

The actual track rope slipping involves moving the rope two metres at a time, while four separate safety clamps keep everything in place on each side of the Peak 2 Peak.

"So we move one (safety clamp), clamp it back down, move the second one, clamp it back down, and just do little two metre moves at a time," Richards said.

"So those safeties are always in place if something happened to the winch, or something happened to the rigging, so that the whole track rope wouldn't end up down in the valley. There's always a double safety on it."

The Peak 2 Peak reopens for winter skiing and sightseeing on November 27.

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