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Flying towers

With 11,166-foot Lone Mountain in the background a Blackhawk helicopter lowers part of a tower as the new Ramcharger 8 chairlift is installed at Big Sky Resort on Monday.

If this weekend's snowstorm didn't get skiers and snowboarders excited, maybe this will: A Blackhawk helicopter began ferrying the new towers for Big Sky Resort's eight-passenger lift up the mountain Monday.

Scenic hovering

A Blackhawk helicopter hovers while placing towers for Big Sky Resort's new Ramcharger 8 chairlift on Monday.

Crews from Timberline helicopters and pilot Brian Jorgenson, Doppelmayr and Big Sky Resort worked together on the new Ramcharger 8 lift, the first eight-seat chairlift in North America. Thirteen lift towers were being installed throughout the day in more than 70 helicopter round-trips.

The new lift will feature ergonomically shaped, extra-wide heated seats and a weather-proof bubble to whisk skiers and snowboarders up Andesite Mountain. The new lift's capacity is 3,200 skiers an hour.

The high-speed quad lift that used to climb the mountain was moved to replace the old Shedhorn lift.

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Snowy mountain

Snow has already fallen at Big Sky Resort several times this fall.

The resort, located south of Bozeman, is the largest in Montana, boasting more than 5,800 skiable acres and a 4,350-foot vertical drop from the top of 11,166-foot Lone Mountain.

Last season Big Sky recorded 397 inches of snowfall. Extended forecasts call for this winter's snowfall to be 115 percent of normal. Opening day is scheduled for Nov. 22.

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