Wild Blue Gondola construction running smoothly, opening date not yet determined
Workers are making headway on the Wild Blue Gondola and other on-mountain improvements as part of the third phase of Steamboat Resort’s Full Steam Ahead project.
Once complete, Wild Blue will be the longest and fastest 10-person gondola in North America. It will run 3.16 miles and get skiers from the base of the resort to the top of the mountain in 13 minutes, while increasing the out-of-base capacity from 6,000 people per hour to 10,000.
During the 2022-23 winter season, skiers and snowboarders were able to enjoy the first half of the Wild Blue Gondola, which takes riders from the base to Greenhorn Ranch, a new learning center for beginners. After construction on the second half is over, Wild Blue will bring riders to the top of Sunshine Peak.
According to Steamboat Resort Communications Manager Maren Franciosi, construction efforts are running smoothly, but a hard opening date has yet to be determined. Instead, the competition of Wild Blue is simply scheduled for the 2023-24 winter.
“As we get closer to the season starting and we know more about snow and conditions and how the construction schedule moves along this fall, we should know more,” Franciosi said. “We still have a ways to go, so no specific date at this time.”
Franciosi pointed out that in a typical season, the Sunshine Peak area is not available by opening day at the resort. Part of Wild Blue’s second half opening will depend on the weather and terrain in that area, as well as construction.
Construction on the second half of the new gondola dates back to last summer, but the majority of work was always slated for 2023.
“Last summer we poured the bases for the towers,” Franciosi said. “This summer so far we have been placing the towers on those bases and then putting the crossarms and sheaves in place. … We are done with all tower and sheave placement.”
On Tuesday, more concrete will be poured via helicopter at the gondola’s upper terminal.
“The terminal itself is installed right now,” Franciosi said. “The compartment that stores the bullwheel and all, that is up there.”
The gondola’s haul rope is scheduled to be installed from Thursday to Saturday.
The remainder of phase III construction for Full Steam Ahead includes terrain work and chairlift installation in Steamboat Resort’s sidecountry experience, Mahogany Ridge, as well as snowmaking expansions in the Sundown and Sunshine areas.
The Christie Peak Express lift will be closed for the remainder of the summer due to soil stabilization work. Some Forest Service trails and bike park trails will also face temporary closures while construction continues.
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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