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Masada

Masada, 1971
The Mountaintop Cableway
To establish the cableway, the base of the cable drum had to be fixed to the rock by means of permanent anchors.
Apart from the difficulty of drilling into the hard dolomite rock, there was another complex problem: how to transport the drilling rig, materials and accessories to the mountaintop.
The drilling rig was dismantled and the operators carried its parts up the Snake Path to the summit, where it was reassembled. The materials and accessories were transported in the same way.
On completion of the work the rig was again dismantled and transported down from the summit in the same way.
A similar operation was carried out on the base for an antenna at the summit of Santa Katerina in the Sinai desert, but there the transportation was by helicopter.
The drilling was executed in hard granite with a diamond drill. The walls of the boreholes were abraded by controlled explosions in order to increase friction and adherence between the anchor and the borehole walls.

A Project Unparalleled in its Engineering Complexity Worldwide
Building the Upper Cableway Station at Masada
Lipsker & Co., which in 1971 installed the anchors for the first cableway at Masada, undertook the construction of the new cableway. For this project it was planned to harness the cableway to the rock by means of 12 permanent anchors with a load resistance of 150 tons each. Anchor length was planned at 45 meters and their location was set into the steep incline, some 15 meters below the walls on the summit.
The site was characterized by particularly difficult conditions:

  • A steep incline composed of broken dolomite rock.
  • Great height.
  • No access roads.

In addition both the on-site landscape and antiquities had to be preserved.


Protecting the Incline
For fear of rockslides, it was necessary to protect the incline with a system of anchors and rock bolts at the early stages of construction.

This called for preliminary planning that included:

  1. Spreading protective steel meshes from the summit to the bottom of the incline for fear of rockslides.
  2. Building a system of hanging scaffolding for pedestrians from the summit to the bottom of the level intended for the station’s foundations.


To avoid putting all the weight of the drilling rig onto the hanging scaffolding, a special system was developed whereby concrete slabs could be attached to the rock.
These slabs enabled the simultaneous console operation of three drilling rigs for the installation of a system of rock bolts and anchors of 4, 12 and 15-meter length. Some 150 anchors and rock bolts were installed in this way.


Working Under Particularly Difficult Conditions of Height and Accessibility

Masada, 1998


  1. Due to the difficult access to the drilling and casting points, the Company prepared special drilling systems that were dismantled into small elements that were transported to the summit and reassembled there.
  2. The power units were hooked up to the drilling systems by means of long piping.
  3. The drilling and transportation on all the levels were done by dismantling the drilling rigs and reassembling them at the next points.
  4. From the first main anchor level, a steel construction was built to which the heavier drilling systems were connected, and anchors were installed to a depth of 20, 25, 40 and 45 meters. The anchors were installed into the boreholes by means of a special system built for this purpose.
  5. The quarrying operations on the incline and at the base foundations of the station were done manually under difficult conditions, with the workers harnessed to the rock face by safety belts. Only in the final stage, when a working surface had been established, small mechanical equipment could be used.
  6. The concrete casting was done in small loads with the help of a cable car that carried 1 m3 a time from the bottom of the mountain where the mixers stood. The casting was done in small loads at dozens of points on various levels of the rock face. The system was used to cast 320 m3 of concrete for the station’s base over a six-day period.

Installation of 45-meter anchors with a load resistance of 150 tons each on the steep incline, some 450 meters above Dead Sea level.