In the end, the haul rope sealed the deal. Turoa, one of the two ski resorts on Mt. Ruapehu, announced today that its summit lift will not reopen this season following damage from a large avalanche last week. The top terminal of the High Noon Express is located inside a building and was spared, however snow caused the tube of tower 15 to give way. Communication from the resort, particularly chief executive Ross Copland, has been stellar from beginning to end. Here’s a recap.
Mr. Copland posted a Facebook update from the site within hours and an entertaining selfie video soon after. “It’s a pretty sorry state as you can see behind me. Tower 15 has taken the brunt of a massive snow loading. The shape of the building for the return of the High Noon Express has actually protected it really nicely. The snow has come down right over the roof and basically launched right into the top tower.” He exclaimed at the end “It’s not the first time we’ve had to replace a tower on the High Noon Express!”
Teams from Ruapehu Alpine Lifts and Doppelmayr got to work removing snow from around the tower and getting it out of the way so chairs could be run into a parking building at the drive. The initial plan was to fabricate a new tower tube locally and install it within weeks, not months.
A rope inspection completed Monday foiled that plan. “I’m really to say that the news isn’t good,” Copland lamented. “There are a number of damaged wires in the rope which would require a repair of approximately 250 meters to be installed. To manufacture that new rope that’s a special 48 mm section would need to be flown out from Europe and that process couldn’t be completed before the end of the winter. Unfortunately, that is the end of the High Noon Express for the winter. We’ve still got 7 of the 8 lifts at Turoa turning.”
Comments on the latest Facebook post were surprisingly understanding considering the top of the mountain will be inaccessible for two and a half more months of the season. “Thank you for the update Ross, definitely bad news, but appreciate the need for safety,” wrote one guest. “Still heaps of mountain to ski & thanks for keeping us up to date- totally understand that you cant have mega expensive parts lying around ‘just in case’ – or you would soon be bankrupt,” read another. “Thanks for keeping us informed while this has played out” and finally “Not a great outcome, absolutely guttered, fav runs up there. Can’t complain tho, it’s just Mother Nature and we do play on a volcano. Plenty of mountain left to board thankfully. Thanks for all the updates throughout the season. Everyone at RAL are doing a great job!” I agree. Ruapehu skiers can look forward to High Noon’s return in 2019 along with a top-of-the-line new Leitner gondola.