Kachemak Ski Club heralds new season with Ohlson Mt. rope tow improvements

The Homer Rope Tow is getting a new face this season with a new braided eight-strand rope to replace the previous twisted three-strand rope.

“There had always been an issue with twisting with the old rope. It was hard to hold on to,” said honorary Kachemak Ski Club board member Doug Reid.

Reid and official KSC board member, Doug Malone, have put in the work to find and install the new braided eight-strand rope on top of the Ohlson Mountain ski hill.

In addition to the new rope, Reid and Malone also have been working on a new tensioning device to prevent the rope from slipping around the bull wheel.

“We got some new pullies to do extra wraps for more friction, which will enable the rope to pull more people under icy conditions,” said Reid.

Last year’s unusually cold temperatures caused the rope and bull wheel to freeze, causing excessive slipping in the system.

When it came time to find the perfect rope replacement, KSC and Reid looked to other rope tow ski areas in the Lower 48 for advice.

“I did my research by talking to other rope tows Outside — mostly on the East Coast and Midwest,” said Reid. “And most had gone from the twisted three-strand to the braided eight-strand, and all had good reviews about the new style of rope.”

The ski club purchased the new rope from a company in Minnesota using grant money. The rope is 100 percent polyester which will have better UV resistance and absorb less water as compared to the old rope, according to Reid. Better UV resistance means the rope will have a longer life, and less water absorption means less issues with ice.

“Last year we had such incredible snow and every time the tow was up, there were problems,” said KSC Secretary Nell Gustafson. “We are not 100 percent sure this will be the answer in all situations, but it will make a difference.”

The average life of rope tow rope is three to five years, said Gustafson. The previous rope held its own for six years, according to Reid.

“We put a lot of mileage on that old rope; we put it to the test,” said Gustafson.

The old rope, along with its predecessors, retires in storage. KSC is hoping the stock pile of old rope will find a new home, the club is selling the rope for a low price. For more information, call Gustafson at 235-6653.

Seven members currently sit on the KSC board, meeting once a month between fall and spring. The Homer Rope Tow operation is entirely volunteer-based with more than 20 volunteers coming out this season for operations training.

The Kachemak Ski Club’s annual meeting will be held Thursday, Dec. 6, at the Cook Inletkeeper building starting at 6 p.m. The meeting is open to the public and will feature ski and snowboard videos created by local youth and a slide show. There will be a short business meeting. Food and refreshments will be offered, and attendees are encouraged to bring a potluck dish.

“Like the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, we want the Kachemak Ski Club to be a fun and social community event,” said Gustafson. “Our goal is to generate more interest for more enthusiastic skiers and snowboarders in the community.”