The Toughest Operating Guy within the Ski Raise Industry

Through Pete Bansen

(Editor’s Observe: Pete Bansen is ghost-writing Hans Burkhart’s autobiography.)

Alex Cushing was once the visionary, however Hans Burkhart was once the builder — the fellow who constructed Squaw Valley Ski Hotel. A fascination with cord rope and cable transportation as a youngster led to raise initiatives in Europe then North The united states. Early jobs digging holes for the primary raise at Alpine Meadows and shoveling sawdust within the Squaw Valley Meadow ended in development the unique Squaw Valley gondola in 1963. His just about 40-year dating with Squaw Valley Ski Hotel founder Alex Cushing was once, through turns, harmonious and combative. With an extended and a success profession in raise development and ski hotel control underneath his belt, Burkhart has a well-earned recognition within the world raise business for finishing probably the most tricky, hard initiatives safely and on time. Right here we communicate with “the toughest operating guy within the ski raise enterprise.”

Hans, let’s discuss our e-book! What impressed you to put in writing it and when will it’s out?


There were quite a lot of scenarios all over my existence the place I got here very with reference to being killed. My daughters have all heard a number of of the tales as they have been rising up, and as they heard extra of them, they instructed me that I must write a e-book. We’ve been operating on it for 2 and a part years — it’s been our pandemic venture. I believe we’ll have the books through September or early October.

You’re in the beginning from Germany. Are you able to communicate a little bit about your formative years there and the way you become thinking about lifts and the ski business?

I’m from Oberammergau in Southern Bavaria. My grandfather on my mom’s aspect had a shop there that our circle of relatives nonetheless operates, and he was once a farmer and wooded area supervisor as effectively. I got to work with him when I used to be only a small boy. My dad was once a police officer in Oberammergau and was once busy with that, however my grandfather at all times had paintings on his farm or within the wooded area that I may assist with from an excessively younger age. I liked operating with him, and he was once an actual function style for me.

My mom put me on skis when I used to be 3 or 4 and I hated it, however as I were given older, I liked snowboarding. I may strap my skis to my bicycle and journey it to Garmisch-Partenkirchen to ski as a youngster and the lift-served snowboarding there sparked an actual fascination with lifts and twine rope that caused me to search out paintings development lifts when I used to be in school.

LIFT BUILDER ON SITE: Burkhart in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah scouts tower places for the Snowbird tram. Courtesy picture

You had an extended profession on the hotel then referred to as Squaw Valley. What introduced you to this space?

I used to be educating snowboarding for Stein Eriksen at Aspen Highlands in 1959/60 and Stein invited me to head with him to the Olympics in Squaw Valley. Stein was once an enormous superstar in snowboarding and knew completely everybody, in order that was once slightly a glamorous creation to the world. I got here again the next summer time and were given a role cleansing up the sawdust that the Military had used to build transient parking a lot for the Video games within the Squaw Valley Meadow — now not slightly so glamorous!

Your dating with Alex Cushing was once each long and from time to time combative. What stored bringing you again?

I used to be serious about development lifts and few hotel homeowners have been as loopy about development lifts as Alex — the extra distinctive, the easier. In 1966, I used to be going to depart so I may paintings on a tram being inbuilt Albuquerque, however he talked me into staying through proposing to construct a tram in Squaw and permitting me to control the venture. Once we began speaking about it, he requested what the most important tram on the planet was once. I instructed him it was once an 80-passenger, and he mentioned, “Smartly, let’s construct a 100-passenger tram — no, 120!”

He was once an extraordinary personality, and he didn’t have a lot clutch of the sensible, which may well be each genius and really irritating, however we complemented one some other.

What do you glance again on as your maximum necessary accomplishments within the ski business?

Development the arena’s biggest tram was once a large success, however the difference was once short-lived as a relatively greater tram was once put in in Europe inside a yr or two. That by no means stopped Alex from relating to his because the “international’s biggest,” however that was once simply his means of doing issues! Within the early ’80s, I had noticed how effectively removable chairlifts labored in Europe, and constructed Doppelmayr’s first massive removable chairlift in North The united states in addition to Poma’s first removable out of doors of Europe, however the Funitel at Squaw was once my maximum difficult venture. I labored on it seven days every week and took two days off within the 17 months it took to finish it — however it’s nonetheless the one one in North The united states and has been an enormous luck. All my initiatives have been finished on time and inside finances, however the factor I’m maximum happy with is that during a long time of very hard and continuously bad paintings, we had an ideal protection file: Nobody on any of my crews ever had a major damage.

On the subject of my profession within the business, from its opening, Squaw Valley had a name for deficient customer support, and all over my tenure as president, we made dramatic enhancements to the place we have been rated the #2 hotel within the nation — in the back of most effective Vail — through Snow Nation mag. It was once a real staff effort to reach that, nevertheless it was once a staff I assembled and led.

Now that you simply’ve been out of the hotel enterprise for nearly 20 years, do you need to remark at the state of the ski inns in North Tahoe and Truckee nowadays?

I’m satisfied that I were given to revel in and give a contribution to what have been among the best years of Tahoe snowboarding — let’s simply go away it at that.

Complementary: Alex Cushing introduces Burkhart on the grand opening of the Squaw Valley Ski Hotel aerial tramway in December 1968. Picture through David G. Henry

Individuals who have labored for you constantly say that you simply’re one thing of a workaholic. What do you do for amusing?

No…! They are saying that?? I believe I used to be fortunate to have came upon what I like to do early in existence and to had been in a position to spend my existence doing it. I simply love operating with cord rope and heavy apparatus and it’s very pleasant to construct issues that closing. When I used to be more youthful, I at all times had two or 3 jobs at any given time and now I typically have two or 3 initiatives going without delay.

Development homes has been one thing that I’ve performed for amusing. I constructed a wonderful log area in Verdi, Nevada a couple of years in the past and an excessively other, however similarly stunning house in Oberammergau. I’ve been concerned with the Squaw Valley Mutual Water Corporate for a few years, and recently I run the Verdi Mutual Water Corporate. I do love to stay busy – that’s the important thing to staying mentally and bodily succesful as you age. Retirement is the main reason for demise!

Another tidbits that you need to let us know in regards to the e-book?

It’s going to be numerous amusing to learn. There are historic knowledge and tales about Squaw Valley and numerous distinctive pictures. I did some fascinating consulting initiatives that we discuss, together with paintings at the San Francisco Cable Automotive device, a role the place I arrived in Hawaii within the morning, hiked down Haleakala, and flew house the similar night time, and some other a few pre-development overview of a hotel this is now probably the most distinctive and fashionable within the nation. Then there’s a bold get away from the U.S. Border Patrol. …

Search for the e-book, Above and Past – My Existence Giving the International a Raise, in retail outlets across the North Tahoe/Olympic Valley/Truckee space this autumn.


The Hardest Working Man in the Ski Lift Business

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