Steamboat Springs The Wailers were still performing their last encore in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd celebrating the end of 2016-17 ski season in Gondola Square on Easter Sunday when the first signs of this spring’s refurbishing of the 30-year-old Steamboat gondola appeared.
Lift operations had already ceased late Sunday afternoon when a work car carrying two Steamboat lift maintenance employees emerged from the lower gondola terminal behind the stage to the pulsing rhythm of “Get Up, Stand Up” and proceeded to tower four before coming to a halt. The two men, wearing hard hats ,climbed onto the roof of the gondola car and appeared to be checking gondola components on the tower.
Retiring Steamboat Vice President of Mountain Operations Doug Allen, down to his last few days on the job, confirmed Monday that the workers were changing out “cable catchers,” a chore that is part of the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.’s responsibility in collaborating with lift manufacturer Doppelmayr USA on the refurbishing project.
“We have quite a lot of work to do on the towers,” Allen said.
With Allen’s retirement, Director of Lift Maintenance Kurt Castor will oversee the gondola refurbishing.
Allen said Doppelmayr has placed a trailer in the gondola parking lot, and the next thing to happen on the job will be laying down steel plating to protect the concrete pavers in Gondola Plaza. That will be followed by pulling the haul rope off the gondola towers.
Allen also wanted to advise skiers, who look forward to skinning up the mountain for late April corn snow, that a bulldozer is already at work plowing snow on the Why Not ski trail, which serves as a construction road in summer.
“There’s a D7 (bulldozer) up there right now, and (the road) will cross Vagabond,” Allen said.
Steamboat Today reported Feb. 20 on the ski area’s announcement that summer operations at the base of the ski area will be delayed until June 30, about two weeks later than usual, while the gondola work is completed. The scope of work includes replacing grips as well as hangers and terminal equipment. A new control system also will be installed.
Steamboat Today confirmed with the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board that the gondola passed its annual licensing inspection without any problems identified.
When it first opened in 1986, the gondola was touted as the only eight-passenger gondola in the world with its ability to transport 2,800 passengers per hour to mid-mountain in 9 minutes. The old Stagecoach gondola needed 14 1/2 minutes to make the trip.
There is heightened anticipation about the beginning of summer operations because Steamboat Ski Resort is expected to debut its Outlaw mountain coaster and Maverick mini-golf course. Roger Perricone, a veteran ski resort manager of competition services, is overseeing those projects.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1