Big Sky Resort Chairlift

A Sikorsky UH-60A “Blackhawk” Helicopter fetches more concrete for the foundation of a tower being constructed on the new chairlift, formerly known as the Lone Peak Triple Chairlift, on Tuesday at Big Sky Resort.

A Sikorsky UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter buzzed through the air above Big Sky Resort on Tuesday, carrying a half ton of concrete to the top of the resort’s new bowl chairlift, one of two upgraded lifts under construction this summer.

The yet-to-be-named bowl lift, a six-person, high-speed Doppelmayr chair that accesses the Lone Peak Tram, is set to replace the Lone Peak Triple — one of the resort’s original chairlifts from 1973. The other lift, a conveyor-loaded triple, will replace the 28-year-old Challenger, which closed midway through last season due to an issue with its gearbox.

“We wanted the experience for our guests to be the best. This is the best lift service available to serve the best terrain in the country,” said Mike Unruh, director of mountain operations.

The gearbox problem required an expensive and complicated fix, while the Lone Peak Triple was near the end of its lifespan, Unruh said.

The new lifts, which come with a combined $9 million price tag, should be ready for the start of the winter season on Nov. 24.

The Challenger upgrade will shave the ride time for skiers and snowboarders by three minutes, while the bowl lift, which features a protective bubble windscreen and heated seats, will cut the previous trip in half.

Both loading areas have been moved up the mountain, and crews are working to grade the top of Challenger to help riders unload. Two sections of the bowl have also been graded to allow for snow grooming.

Three hundred chairs from the old lifts were sold to “eager” buyers, while the rest of the equipment was recycled for scrap.

The project is Big Sky’s first lift installation since 2006, when it built the Dakota Triple. The resort also recently completed a $250,000 upgrade to its Ramcharger lift — which will improve its ability to handle downhill traffic from mountain bikers and visitors — and is planning further improvements to the bowl area of the mountain.

“It’s an investment in the future of Big Sky and an improvement of the experience for skiers,” said marketing director Lyndsey Owens. “It’s part of being the biggest skiing in America.”

Kendall can be reached at Kendall is on Twitter at @lewdak