To the Top in a Tram

The Sandia Peak Tramway was built in 1966 by a Swiss company and at that time it was considered one of the most challenging and complex tram systems in the world.  It still has some statistics to boast about.  It has the world's largest single span and is the longest aerial tram in North America.  It rises from a base of 6,559 feet above sea level to 10,378 feet above sea level.  The 'flight' as it is called lasts about 15 minutes and travel at a speed of 12 miles per hour.  It has two support towers, the first at 232 feet in height, the second at 80 feet..  Its design is called a 'double reversible jig back' meaning that as one car is coming down one is going up.  Each tram car, and there are two of them, carries a maximum of 50 people.  Over 10,500 trips up and down are made each year.

This will be our tram to the top.  Behind it is the first tower.  The bottom of the tram is a large ballast container.  All of the water needed by High Finance Restaurant and other facilities at the top is carried up in these ballast containers.

Along the trip you look down on jagged rocks and today, a special treat . . . SNOW!

This is the second tower.  When built, all the material was delivered via a helicopter as there is no easy path to this jagged perch.  Over 2,000 trips were required.

In the upper right you can spot the tops of the communication towers to the north of the tram station at the top.  There is a trail that connects the two points on the ridge top.  Today we were told that it was passable only with snow shoes or skis.  Ann was not deterred in her hopes of hiking the ridge.

The upper tram station.  Pretty deep snow in places.  Ann inquired about the trail.  Recommendation:  snow shoes.  But, they admitted it might be packed down a bit.  Just enough, perhaps, for an excellent hiker.  Ann was off!!

She deserves bragging rights and placing our mascot where only she could take him!!

While Ann hiked we did a more sensible thing (I know you are smiling).  We practiced our shooting in difficult lighting while sitting at the bar in High Finance Restaurant.  It took many 'shots' to get it right.

Perhaps it was too many shots, but I could almost make out a white sand dune here.  Lovely ridge, interesting light, some stick-like things poking out.  Having given up on White Sands for the time being due to weather, I took solace that this would do.  All I needed was a good shot . . . 

The trip back was magical.  We were the only passengers on the tram!!!  As we got on the tram captain called it the sunset ride.  It was.  Everything was turning gold.  We had full access of the tram to shoot.  Remember as you see these images that they are all taken hand-held in a moving container that is going forward but also swaying in the wind.  

Ah Greg, this may just be my favorite shot right up there with Ann's snowy hiking shots.  Clever!!

We meet again!!

My brother told us to watch for the sunset.  How could we miss it?  Taken from the tram.

Welcome back!

No, we did not choose to stay in Alamogordo and shoot at White Sands.  They opened up late and we wanted to get on our way.  I think we made the right decision.  Instead, we were treated to a great tram ride.  Life is good.