Anyone involved in the construction industry knows that extreme weather conditions can affect a project's timeline as well as its success. When Peak to Creek Electrical Group, an electrical contractor based in Telluride, Colo., was hired by the Telluride Ski and Golf Co. to install a service lift station and provide service for a ski patrol shack situated on the Revelation Bowl, the company learned firsthand just how powerful an adversary Mother Nature can be. Thanks to a safety-conscious work crew and some creative thinking, however, the natural elements proved no match for the experienced electrical team.
Located near Telluride in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the Revelation Bowl rises 12,570 ft above sea level and enjoys some of the area's heaviest snow loads. But along with the snow comes some harsh outdoor conditions.
“The Ski Patrol nicknamed the area of the Revelation Bowl we were working at ‘Pluto’ because of its stark terrain and severe climate,” says Kevin Wayland, Peak to Creek's construction manager. “Wind gusts reach in excess of 100 mph up there.”
The project, which began on September 24, required the installation of 480V 3-phase switchgear, as well as the supply of 120/208V 3-phase service to the ski patrol shack in order to power items such as radios, rescue equipment chargers, lights, and heat. Despite it being early autumn, several major snowstorms hit the area before work could begin, making access to the job site difficult.
“We placed chains on our trucks' tires just to get up the mountain,” says Wayland. “After several close calls with potentially life-threatening accidents, we resorted to using a snow cat.”
To reduce the risk of injury and the effects of altitude sickness on its labor force, Peak to Creek performed as much prefabrication work as possible at the Telluride Ski and Golf maintenance shop.
“We set up a staging area to assemble the branch circuits in the ski shack,” explains Wayland. “We also put together a lot of the gear. Then, we tucked as much as we could into the ski patrol shack, and a helicopter lifted everything to the top of the mountain.”
Once the equipment arrived at the job site, the workers set about completing the needed connections. Although this sounds simple enough, Wayland says installing a 45kVA transformer outside presented several challenges.
“Not only did we have to set the transformer back at the service pedestal — which was literally perched on the edge of a mountain — but we also had to figure out a way to keep the wind from driving snow into its housing and melting on the windings,” he notes. “Although the transformer was raintight and weatherproof, the manufacturer couldn't guarantee it would withstand the 100+ mph winds.”
Peak to Creek solved this issue by sealing the transformer within a steel box that provides access and airspace.
“This second shell eliminates the force of the wind and keeps moisture off of the windings and connections,” explains Wayland.
The project concluded on November 10, just five weeks after it began and in time for ski season. Despite the uncooperative weather and dangerous terrain, Peak to Creek worked 354 man hours with zero OSHA recordable injuries and zero OSHA incidents.
“We are proud of the Revelation Bowl Ski Lift project, which produced an IEC National Award of Excellence and the Colorado Construction Gold Hard Hat Award, ” adds Wayland.