Gondola options weighed

Joint people-mover project possible for Wildhorse Meadows


— Talks are under way between the developer of Wildhorse Meadows and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. to collaborate on a people-mover gondola.

Resort Ventures West President David Hill, the developer of Trailhead Lodge and the Wildhorse Meadows development, confirmed the ongoing talks with Ski Corp. officials.

"We are working with the Ski Corp. to look at options for building a joint gondola," Hill said this week.

Ski Corp. President Chris Diamond said Thursday there remain many challenging details to be worked out. However, he said both parties are philosophically committed to the goal of building a gondola that would better serve the public as well as residents and guests of Wildhorse Meadows. Wildhorse Meadows is adjacent to the Meadows skier parking lot at Mount Werner and Pine Grove roads.

"We've been talking about this for years," Diamond said. "We're closer to the end (of discussions) than we are to the beginning. I do think that we're close to making it happen."

Four years ago, Diamond took the position that Ski Corp. could more economically transport day skiers from the Meadows parking lot to the base of the ski area with its fleet of shuttle vans. Circumstances have changed, he said. The path of redevelopment at the base area is much clearer now, and ownership of the ski area changed in the past year, among other factors.

"I think we've all learned a lot since that time," Diamond said.

Hill said if the talks prove successful, the result would be a lower terminal that is closer to the Meadows parking lot than what currently is planned. The people-mover gondola would travel from the area near the public parking lot to a second loading area next to Trailhead Lodge, then angle to the east for the trip up the hill to the base of the ski area.

Additionally, the pulse gondola that is currently planned would be changed to a faster detachable-car gondola. Detachable gondola cabins offer the advantage of comfortable loading without slowing the rest of the cars. Hill said the resulting change in uphill capacity would jump from about 500 people per hour to about 3,000 passengers per hour.

Hill said ongoing discussions include financial arrangements and engineering changes that would need to be made to the lift system. He said City Planning Director Tom Leeson is being consulted.

Diamond said perhaps the biggest design challenge is how to relocate the upper gondola terminal, which has previously been planned for a location in the new public plaza under construction at One Steamboat Place.

Hill agreed with Diamond. He said the size and weight of the higher-capacity gondola could not be accommodated at One Steamboat Place.

Continuing discussions involve where to place the upper and lower terminals to meet the needs of both parties, as well as how to realign the course of the gondola, Diamond said. Ensuring that the new gondola alignment clears vehicular traffic and deciding on the best elevation within Gondola Plaza for the upper terminal are technically challenging, he added.

Much still needs to be learned about how the higher-capacity gondola would mesh with existing transit centers and modes of ground transportation, Diamond said, and the city is being consulted closely in those matters.

As an example, Diamond said, there is an open question as to whether some guest shuttle vans could be diverted from the gondola transit center to the lower terminus of the people-mover gondola.

Resort Ventures West previously has said its gondola would be completed in 2009.

- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com


sickofitall 7 years, 1 month ago

I sincerely hope these clowns are not expecting taxpayer funding. With our budgets as constrained as they are this better be a private deal.


Ed Miklus 7 years, 1 month ago

Absolutely should be private enterprise. Mt Tremblant in Quebec Province has one. It's an Intrawest owned mountain, very,very crowded all week long and the darn thing works well and it's fun to ride. It's an open cabriolet type that starts at their main lot and ends at their gondola and travels above their village.


SilverSpoon 7 years, 1 month ago

Breckenridge has one.

Questions to be answered: How much fuel do the current shuttle buses use? How much is maintenance on these vehicles? How much do we have to pay the drivers?

I bet when you add it up, the gondola would pay itself back quickly. Especially when the knoll lot is pay parking(next year).

The debate is whether poor locals should be allowed on the exclusive wild horse meadows gondola.


scooter 7 years, 1 month ago

Please correct me if I'm wrong but: It's an open cabriolet type of gondola that has two cars that go back and forth not a continuous loop. It's capasity is limited to only 10 to 14 people (I think I read that in the paper somewhere), and the travel time for these two cars is several minutes. You do the math:. Steamboat will have to supply a Police presence evey powder day to keep the peace. Just like always: to small: to little: to late. Don't let this developer get away with this. Wildhorse developer (at first) stated they were going to build a continuous loop gondola. Then when they found out the cost (after approval for the development), they're now back peddling out of their origional concept. Now they want us to help pay for it: that's a load of crap. I think the city should HALT all construction at Wildhorse Meadows until this is resolved. We are all getting tired of the bait and switch around here.


Ed Miklus 7 years, 1 month ago

SilverSpoon, we should insist that its public and open to those of us that can't afford million dollar lots.


Neil O'Keeffe 7 years ago

Take a deep breath "Scooter "and read the article a bit more closely, all of your gripes are being addressed. Believe!


prayforsnow 7 years ago

SilverSpoon... I hadn't heard about the knoll lot going to paid parking. Is that official?


scooter 7 years ago

Rokbot... When I first moved here: I use to believe: 15 years ago. I been here long enough to know that money talks, and the city is too afraid to hold developers accountable: period! The article is not a complete representation of what's really going on with the situation (so I hear): and if you read the previous articles, you will understand my concerns. It's all less than what was originally conceived, and potentially costing all of us $$$.

Buy the way... I breathe just fine: thank you very much...


hubiem 7 years ago

the sooner that they can get this gondola up and running the better. the canyons has one. it works real well. the transit center is a real cluster. they took away the lower gondola lot and forced 30 more busses to use the transit center this year. then ski corp has 2 lanes in there for the four or five meadows busses that drive around. then the other 40 to 50 busses are confined to three other lanes. the numbers and math do not make sense. the sooner they can open this gondola, the sooner they can take those meadows busses off the road, and open up some more space at the gondola transit center.


scooter 7 years ago

So, yes a gondola from the meadows is a great idea. However, It was reported in this paper several months ago that in the Wildhorse meadows development plan they were going to pay for this...not the tax payers. I understand that you must be pretty to live in the city, and I also understand that all Steamboat residents have endless funds, if you don't believe me ask our city counsel members....More money more money...


skijor 7 years ago

Although I'm not a fan of big developers, you can't blame Wildhorse for this current snafu. After the Skicorp said years ago that they'd rather go with buses rather than build a gondi from the Meadows lot, Wildhorse decided to build a gondi for their residents and anyone who wanted to walk from the lot, from PRIVATE funds, not taxpayers or skiiers. Now that Skicorp realized that a gondi would be a good idea, do you still think Wildhorse should pay for a much bigger gondi that runs to the Meadows lot??? If it's built, the fair thing would be to have it financed by a combination of Wildhorse, the Skicorp and people parking at the Meadows lot.


scooter 7 years ago

Skijor: No!!!

  1. If that's the case, then don't build it. Give Wildhorse Meadows NO easements to be able to install a gondola. Let all the millionaires walk to the meadows parking lot & ride the shuttle bus just like the rest of us. It's called hardball! The deal Wildhorse Meadows made with the city, is the deal Wildhorse Meadows made. They should build what they promised, and pass that cost of it on their end: not mine!

  2. Then:it a perfect world, look into converting all the shuttles to natural gas or any other viable option (hydrogen, electric, etc). I sure it's going to end up being way cheaper than the alternative.

  3. The patrons of the meadows parking lot should NEVER have to pay for transportation to the mountain. Copper would never charge a fee for the shuttle busses from the satellite parking lots. Steamboat Ski & Resort created the park and ride nightmare years and years ago: and it's going to get a lot worse.


skijor 7 years ago

Scooter: I agree. As it stands right now, the small Wildhorse Gondola will be totally paid for by the Wildhorse residents, not the public nor lot users. Buses will continue to be free at the Meadows lot. Only if Skicorp forces the Gondola to go to the Meadows lot will anybody else need to pony-up the extra dough. Personally, I don't care what Wildhorse does with their gondi or residents, but I'd like to keep the Meadows lot free. I also like your idea of alternative fuel vehicles. Maybe the Skicorp can start digging an underground garage to increase the parking capacity, especially since the covered parking near the mountain is being lost to even higher-end condos.


hubiem 7 years ago

i'm not going to get into who should pay, but i do believe that a gondola is a great idea to move people from the meadows and wildhorse to the base area.

scooter said

"Then:it a perfect world, look into converting all the shuttles to natural gas or any other viable option (hydrogen, electric, etc). I sure it's going to end up being way cheaper than the alternative."

a vehicle system will cost more in the long run. no vehicle system will ever be as efficient at moving large numbers of people as a lift will be, regardless of what kind of fuel they use. this is why trains are so efficient. a large electric motor that pushes a large load at a constant speed will always be better than an internal combustion engine, or an electric powered vehicle that has to start and stop continuously like any shuttle bus will.

scooter also said

"Steamboat Ski & Resort created the park and ride nightmare years and years ago: and it's going to get a lot worse."

steamboat HAD to create this "nightmare" years ago, and it won't get worse if this lift is installed. do you know of any large ski areas with a lot of commercial and residential development at the base that doesn't have a remote parking lot with shuttles, or lift service from the lot? what would you think of steamboat if all the ski shops, condos, bars and restaurants were where the parking is, and the whole base area was a giant parking lot? they have to park cars away from the base area, there is no way around it unless they build a giant 10 story parking garage on the knoll lot. which i'm sure would cost more than a gondola will.


trollunderthebridge 7 years ago

Wow. Intrawest is really on the ball. I just heard that they are planning to take the existing Gondi out and move it to the Thunderhead Lift area and then move the Thunderhead to Elk Head.


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