An Uplifting Experience: Lutsen Mountain Ski Lift Installation

Grand Rapids State Bank occasionally participates with other community banks to help fund loans that one bank on its own cannot or chooses not to finance alone.  Earlier this year GRSB agreed to work with the North Shore Bank of Commerce (Duluth) to finance a new ski lift at Lutsen Mountain, a popular winter skiing operation 90 miles northeast of Duluth and 20 miles south of Grand Marais. 
The installation of a new Leitner-Poma six-passenger high-speed chairlift on Moose Mountain brings big change for Lutsen skiers and snowboarders. The new detachable “Caribou Express” triples the lift capacity from the load station and reduces the 10 minute ride to a quick 3.5 minutes.
"The new lift will dramatically change time spent on the slope," says Jim Vick, Marketing Director at Lutsen Mountains. "The efficiency of a high-speed chair is fully realized on Lutsen's longer runs. The Caribou Express will save more than 5 minutes per ride. When extrapolated with the increase in capacity, the number of runs in a ski day will grow three or four fold." 
The new lift at Lutsen is also expected to boost the economy in Cook County and the north shore of Lake Superior.  "Alpine skiers are a driving force in the winter economy," says Linda Kratt, executive director of the Cook County Visitors Bureau. "About two-thirds of winter tourism is tied to alpine skiers. An investment of this scale and the impact it will have on the ski experience is expected to translate to millions of dollars for our local economy."
Jared Pink and Jeff Lee, GRSB business lenders, were invited to observe the unusual installation of the ski lift system in early September.  “As a participating bank, we rely on the lead bank to provide the initial due diligence on a loan request,” said Jared Pink.  “In this instance, due to the extraordinary challenges of the construction site, we were given a chance to watch the investment funds at work.  It was an amazing day of work; the crews worked quickly and efficiently to get the gondola standards in place. This is a good project.”

A helicopter delivers one of the gondola standards to the construction site


A close-up view of the pulley system guiding the gondola cables


The new “Caribou Express” gondola cabs


A Sikorski helicopter is given a last-minute check before the installation project 


The 100-foot lengths of gondola standards are ready to be deployed


One of the hills at the base of the Caribou Mountain gets a face-lift in preparation for the upcoming winter ski season 

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