Snowboarder Andrew Merino tries to stay warm as he waits out an unexpected delay in service on the new Christie Peak Express six-passenger chairlift on Saturday afternoon. A mechanical problem with the lift was resolved by ski area employees and the lift went back in to service later Saturday afternoon.

Photo by Brian Ray

Snowboarder Andrew Merino tries to stay warm as he waits out an unexpected delay in service on the new Christie Peak Express six-passenger chairlift on Saturday afternoon. A mechanical problem with the lift was resolved by ski area employees and the lift went back in to service later Saturday afternoon.

Mother Nature, new chairlift wreak havoc at ski area

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— Neither the weather nor the new Christie Peak Express chairlift cooperated much with local skiers and riders Saturday, the first day of the 2007-08 ski season for which season and value passes were honored on the mountain.

Christie Peak Express, the ski area's new six-passenger lift, had a seamless debut Friday but went out of commission twice Saturday. The lift opened 45 minutes late Saturday morning because of ice buildup overnight, and it was shut down for about 1 hour and 15 minutes Saturday afternoon because of mechanical problems, ski area spokesman Mike Lane said.

A belt on the lift broke at about 1 p.m., leaving some passengers stranded and many other skiers and riders in a lurch.

With the gondola closed while awaiting installation of a new haul rope, Christie Peak Express is the only option for leaving the base area and providing linkage with the Thunderhead Express lift. The Preview lift is also open, providing access to a beginner trail at the base of the ski area.

During Christie Peak Express' afternoon shutdown, shuttle buses usually used to ferry people from the Meadows parking lot were tasked with transporting skiers and snowboarders up Burgess Creek Road to the Thunderhead Express lift.

When all the lifts were operating, lines were scarce at the base. Skiers and riders had no wait for the Preview lift, and single-riders were getting six-person lift chairs to themselves on Christie Peak Express.

The crowds were all farther up the mountain near Thunderhead, resulting in longer lines at the Thunderhead Express lift, Steamboat Springs resident Tracy Hoyt said.

Despite the lift interruptions and variable snow conditions - it briefly rained Saturday before turning to heavy, wet snow and occasional sleet - locals and vacationers alike said they were just happy the ski season had finally arrived.

Having the Steamboat Ski Area open is a relief, Stagecoach resident Amy Zutterling said, because she won't have to drive two hours or more to ski at Copper Mountain or Winter Park.

Although 3 inches of snow fell on the mountain between Friday night and Saturday morning, overnight temperatures didn't allow for artificial snowmaking, Lane said.

Steamboat Springs resident Steve Welsh described the slopes as "sloppy, soft and mushy." However, Welsh said he couldn't complain too much because he was just so thrilled to be back on the slopes for the first time since having knee surgery.

"Everyone's been saying they're hoping for more snow so it isn't so slushy," said Aaron Richards, a first-time skier from Savage, Minn.

Richards got his wish Saturday afternoon as the weather began to turn, bringing rain, snow and biting wind. People surrounding the Christie Peak Express lift let out a collective cheer as the first few flakes began to fall around 12:30 p.m.

Despite the unexpected problems with Christie Peak Express and the snow conditions, Lane said the ski area was pleased with turnout.

"All in all, I think it's a pretty good opening weekend, given the conditions the mountain crew had to work with," Lane said.

The National Weather Service has a snow advisory in effect for Steamboat Springs until 5 a.m. this morning. Total snow accumulation by this morning is expected to be between 5 and 10 inches. There is a 20 percent chance of snow today with a high temperature of 27 degrees.

Comments

xxo 7 years ago

Pilot, don't sugar coat it. This is just another sign of the cheep attitude of the ski area. cheep construction with poor management and no compensation to the paying customer.

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dave reynolds 7 years ago

interawest dumped 28 million in improvements..thats cheep alright..s..t happens get over it all some of you people can do is rip on the ski area if you can manage it better then apply for the job give it a rest already

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bartender 7 years ago

Ha!! Love it.

That's what we need!! The ever endearing Otten who sank millions into some crappy hotel (my parents stayed there once, that was embarrassing, four diamond, my butt). Then tried selling off property around the resort, like the old lot 1 at the base. Now we have "One Steamboat Disgrace" being built. Thanks Less.

At least we have ownership of the resort that is sinking money into the actual infrastructure of the resort. They crammed a lot of work into a short amount of time. Considering what all they did between May and December, that was quite a feat.

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Vincent Coleman 7 years ago

Sh!t Happens. Just be thankful you have the oppertunity to live in such a great place. Waahhh, Our new six pack didnt come out without a glitch. I bet you could do a better job, and maybe even control mother nature too.

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dave reynolds 7 years ago

the cable for the gondie was late arriving..and the new lift was planned when intrawest bought the mountian you all moved here to ski yet all you can do is whine,bitch and moan when things don't go the way you think they should..City Market has a sale on cheese go buy some!

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joseywales66 7 years ago

xxo

Get in line with the rest of fools and hit the road. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Poor ba*stard.

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Al Reiner 7 years ago

The real story is how did the Management not know about the cable until opening day. Also why will they wait until 3 December to decide about additional chairs. The real story is are they acting like ASC or Intrawest. It seems that the ski area has responded with insults, and arrogance. Love it or leave it, Calling peopple who dissagree "poor B*stard" S...t doesnot happen it is caused by bean counters . Nobody was Otten back.. but at least last year he ran some chairs.

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agentofchange 7 years ago

Dude, what? Dude, What? Dude, What? DUDE!!

But Dude, What?

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Brian Smith 7 years ago

alireiner,

Did you get fired from Intrawest or something? All you do on every forum is complain about Intrawest...interesting. They are spending millions, and not every thing works perfectly yet...sometimes things don't go as planned, ask the Ravens.

Go PATS!!

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dave reynolds 7 years ago

alireiner...i am in no way affilated with Ski Corp or Intrawest like you assume I'm just sick and tired of all you whining..lets see in the last three days runs have doubled they are making snow when weather permets..so I guess all is well your your world

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