Steamboat Springs The ski season has come to an early end for the Burgess Creek chairlift.
The 33-year-old chairlift was shut down at 1:57 p.m. March 30 due to a bearing problem in the lower bull wheel.
Ski area managers have decided not to reopen the lift this season.
Steamboat Director of Mountain Operations Doug Allen said the bearing is a major component of the chairlift.
Repairing it will be a large undertaking that will necessitate bringing heavy equipment to the bottom of the lift.
Burgess Creek is on the upper mountain but is in a deep drainage that is actually lower than the top of the gondola.
It is one of two lifts that are the primary means for skiers on the upper mountain to return to Thunderhead Lodge either for lunch, or to ski to the bottom via Heavenly Daze.
The other lift is Elkhead, at the bottom of Priest Creek.
In order to make it easier for skiers to work around Burgess Creek's closure, the Four Points chairlift will not close for the season as planned on Monday, ski area spokeswoman Cathy Wiedemer said.
It is typical for the ski area to evaluate skier demand late in the season and begin shutting down lifts in advance of closing day, April 14.
Wiedemer said had the problem with Burgess Creek come up in December, the ski area would have worked around the clock to repair it.
"With the timing toward the end of the season and the availability of an alternate route," the decision to close Burgess Creek was made, Wiedemer said.
"It's not because we don't have the money or don't want to do it. We won't lose any terrain because the lift is closed and there are ways to work around it."
Skiers riding Four Points will have the choice of skiing down Sunset trail to the Elkhead lift and then skiing to Thunderhead Lodge, or skiing Upper Rainbow to Moonlight to get there.
There are two other options for skiers who find themselves near the bottom of Burgess Creek and desire only to ski directly off the mountain.
They can cruise down the gentle BC Ski Way, or take Flat Out to Vagabond, and ski down on the intermediate trail.
Wiedemer said there was no need to evacuate skiers from Burgess Creek when the lift was closed last Saturday.
The lift ran long enough to off-load all of the skiers who were on the chairlift when the problem was detected.