Steamboat Resort unveils Wild Blue Gondola cabins (with video)
Steamboat Resort employees and Doppelmeyer representatives pulled the covers off the new Wild Blue Gondola cabins on Saturday, Dec. 10, revealing the shiny, royal blue 10-person cabins that mimic the eight-person cabins of the existing Steamboat Gondola.
The unveiling of the Wild Blue Gondola cabins shows work is progressing toward a planned late December opening for both the new gondola and the new beginner ski school area Greenhorn Ranch, said Maren Franciosi, resort communications manager.
The first leg of the new gondola travels 4,267 linear feet and 589 feet high in 3.6 minutes.
“It’s going to be a game changer for moving our snow sports school on the hill and limiting some congestion in the base area, and it’s another people-mover to get people out of the base, too,” Franciosi said.
Ski school lessons will meet at the base even after the new 57-cabin gondola opens, Franciosi said. When the ski school meeting place is moved to Greenhorn Ranch later this ski season, guardians or parents of ski school students will be able to ride the Wild Blue Gondola for free to drop off their students if the parents are foot passengers.
The ski area relocated the Sprung Structures building that had been used outside of Rendezvous Lodge for socially distanced dining during the COVID-19 pandemic to Greenhorn Ranch to use as the ski school meeting and lunch place, Franciosi said. A new building was constructed for ski school bathrooms to connect to the Sprung building.
The unloading terminal of the gondola was built adjacent to Bashor Bowl, and the Greenhorn Ranch area encompasses the re-graded Rough Rider/Bashor Basin area with a 15-degree maximum slope for beginners.
Greenhorn Ranch is home to 30 snow guns, including the largest single installation of permanent pole-mounted guns at the resort, said Dave Hunter, resort vice president of operations. The new energy-efficient snow guns provide an air compressor on-site and can be fully automated.
Hunter said the direct-drive Wild Blue Gondola was engineered and constructed by Doppelmeyer with the largest diameter haul rope in North America. A heavier galvanized haul rope is intended to perform better in the wind, Hunter said.
“It’s the biggest, baddest lift installation that you can build,” Hunter said. “We expect it to perform better all-around. We will have uphill capacity of 3,200 people per hour.”
A 30-day commissioning process to inspect all operational and safety aspects of the new gondola started around Thanksgiving, Hunter said, with training underway for lift operations, lift maintenance and ski patrol.
In late December, the gondola cabins will be loaded with heavy barrels of water to simulate passenger weight for several days of safety and certification inspections by the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board, he said.
When the second leg of Wild Blue Gondola opens sometime during the 2023-24 winter, the gondola is expected to be the longest in North America and the fastest 10-person gondola in the country. Once complete, the gondola will feed skiers and riders through the newly created mid-station to the final destination at the top of Sunshine Peak.
At 3.16 miles long, the entire gondola will transport passengers to Sunshine Peak in approximately 13 minutes. Work for the top leg of Wild Blue Gondola started this summer with cutting of trees for the line and setting all the bases for 10 towers in the first leg and 27 towers for the higher leg.
Ski resort employees also are encouraging guests, riders and skiers to download the Steamboat app for smart phones for current conditions and information. The home page of the app includes a one-button connection to call ski patrol, and new this year, the app allows users to enable location services to inform ski patrol of their coordinates during an emergency.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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