New gondola to reopen Thursday
New terrain, lifts now accessible
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Good news, skiers and riders: Steamboat Resort’s gondola is set to reopen Thursday.
This comes more than a week after the new, $15 million gondola broke down a day after it opened. A mechanical malfunction occurred after-hours on Sunday, Nov. 24, temporarily stranding several employees.
Mark Bee, president of Doppelmayr, the Austria-based company that manufactured the gondola, announced the reopening date in a statement on the resort’s website Wednesday. He said crews with Doppelmayr and the resort have been working around the clock to replace the main gearbox, the part of the gondola that failed.
Bee said crews have taken steps to improve the overall design of the gondola to eliminate a vibration that caused the problem. They also have conducted numerous safety tests, Bee said in the statement. He added the backup systems functioned properly, which allowed the employees stuck on the gondola to be safely unloaded.
Getting an exact timeline on when the gondola could reopen has been difficult due to uncertainty over when replacement parts would arrive and repairs completed, according to Loryn Duke, director of communications at the resort. For example, closures on Interstate 70 due to a rockslide Friday, Nov. 29, complicated the transportation of several parts from Denver.
Thunderhead Express has served as the alternative chairlift to get guests to upper terrain on the mountain while the gondola has been broken.
Owing to recent snow storms and the resort’s snowmaking efforts, new lifts and trails have opened in recent days.
On Wednesday, Four Points became the latest chairlift to start shuttling guests up the mountain. Six new trails opened, including Buddy’s Run, Calf Roper, Hurricane and the upper portions of Rainbow, Nelson’s Run and Twister. That brings the total number of open trails to 38 and the number of open lifts to six, according to the resort’s website.
Guests can grab refreshments at Four Points Lodge, which also opened Wednesday.
Skiing and riding conditions on the new terrain are good for the early season, according to Duke. She cautioned people to be cognizant of the risks associated with early season conditions, such as unmarked hazards and icy spots.
Snow is in the forecast, which could open additional terrain. Local meteorologist Mike Weissbluth expects 3 to 6 inches of accumulation by Thursday evening, according to his forecasting website snowalarm.com.
Snowmaking crews have been working nonstop to buttress the natural snowpack on the mountain, Duke said. Guests should be cautious of any snowmaking equipment that may be on or around trails.
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Hans Geier speaks with a soft voice. His face blushes when asked about his life accomplishments. When asked what his role at Steamboat Resort once was, he quietly utters, “President.”