Fresh off a 30th birthday, Intrawest and Steamboat said yesterday they will make a major investment in the Steamboat Gondola this spring, pushing back the start of summer operations. The world’s first 8-passenger monocable gondola, once called the Silver Bullet, opened in 1986 and has amassed 80,000 hours operating day and night, year-round. Changes include:
- Replacement of grips, likely with Agamatic 108s, the larger version of the new Elkhead Express grips.
- New hangers. The 128 first-generation Omega cabins will remain.
- Completely new terminal rail systems and tire banks.
- Reconfiguration of cargo loading areas at both stations.
- New electronic control system.
“Steamboat is fortunate to have some of the best mechanics and electricians in the business looking after our gondola,” said Doug Allen, vice president of mountain operations. “These upgrades give us time to look at the big picture for the base area, while also enhancing our current uphill transportation system.” Doppelmayr will assist with the work, which will begin April 16th and require complete removal of the gondola’s nearly 18,000 foot haul rope. Doppelmayr did an almost identical upgrade to the 1985 6-passenger gondola at Northstar California Resort in 2015, with new terminals, hangers and grips. Leitner-Poma also recently completed major refits of the Whistler Village and Aspen Silver Queen gondolas that included new cabins. Telluride is also grappling with a similar need for upgrades or replacement.
In its press release, Steamboat acknowledged the gondola as the main access to the mountain and that acting now preserves future reliable transportation. Doppelmayr plans to be finished with the work by June 30th for the mountain’s summer season.