Telluride airlifts staircases onto Palmyra Peak

It's not a stairway to heaven, but it's close.

Canada-based Heliqwest airlifted a pair of steel staircases and a bridge onto Palmyra Peak to span between Gold Hill Chutes 8 and 9 Wednesday morning. Telluride flacks say the getup will open up new in-bounds terrain once the staircases open for business this weekend, weather permitting.

A resort press release says the new toys reflect "a European experience found in Chamonix, France," as the terrain at Aiguille du Midi on the Mont Blanc Massif is connected by a network of wooden and steel staircases and terraces. The Palmyra staircases will allow for easier access to Gold Hill Chute 9, the easiest route into the Palmyra Basin below.

More from the resort's press release:

The two sets of stairs measure 48 and 54 feet, and weigh 3304 and 3324 pounds, respectively. The bridge measures 24 feet in length and weighs 2750 pounds. All three components measure 30 inches wide, feature hand railings on both sides and serrated grated steel walking surface. Together, the stairway and bridge combine make up 126 linear feet ascending Gold Hill. While the new addition will be under construction to solidify access for a couple of days, the new stairs and bridge will be available for use by Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010, weather permitting.

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Eric Peterson