A Tale Of Four Trams

It seems like every resort in Europe has some sort of human-cargo-stuffed tram dangling up the side of an Alp. Here in the U.S., we have ten. Cannon Mountain built the first tram in the U.S. in 1938, since then more have been added: Alyeska, Alaska; Snowbird, Utah; Big Sky, Montana; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Sandia Peak, New Mexico; Ober Gatlinburg, Tennessee; Squaw and Heavenly, California; and Jay Peak, Vermont. Some are more or less scenic trams, some are much smaller than traditional trams, and then there’re the classic trams. Here’s a sampling of a few of them.-A.F.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Here’s a little bit of false advertising-there is no tram at Jackson. But there are plans for a brand-new bigger-and-better tram in the ’08/09 season. It’ll be the same route but able to hold more people.
Vertical rise: 4,139 feet
Summit elevation: 10,450 feet
Length of run down: 4,139 feet
Tram capacity: 100 people
Line for first tram: 6:30 a.m.

Snowbird, Utah
The Snowbird tram is a classic tram. The line forms early, but the wait is worth it. There are few other resorts that have this much super-advanced, lift-accessed terrain. Pick your line through the cirque on the way up.
Vertical rise: 3,240 feet
Summit elevation: 11,000 feet
Length of run down: 2.5 miles down Chip’s Run
Tram capacity: 125 people
Line for first tram: 8:00 a.m.

Big Sky, Montana
The tram starts at mid mountain in the bowl, and there is no easy way down-but there are a lot of options, almost 360 degrees worth from the summit. Check out Big Couloir and the super steep Gullies on your way up.
Vertical rise: 1,450 feet
Summit elevation: 11,150 feet
Length of run down: 3,650 feet
Tram capacity: 15 people
Line for first tram: 8:45 a.m.

Squaw Valley, California
The tram at Squaw is more of a scenic tram, but a tram nonetheless. The more efficient and popular way to get up the mountain is the 28-person Funitel, and on powder days, everyone rides the KT-22 chairlift.
Vertical rise: 2,850 feet
Summit elevation: 9,050 feet
Length of run down: 3.2 miles
Tram capacity: 128 people
Line for first tram: 8:00 a.m.