Steamboat to Build New, Faster Gondola

At a champagne toast tonight in Gondola Square, Steamboat President and Chief Operating Officer Rob Perlman announced the world’s first 8 passenger monocable gondola will be upgraded in time for the 2019/20 season.  The news comes as a bit of a surprise given last month’s approvals of other lift projects including a second gondola to Bashor Bowl and the Pioneer Ridge Expansion.  The current gondola received major upgrades just last year and phase two will include new cabins, towers, drives, top bullwheel and brakes.  “Everyone knows the gondola is the main lift out of the base area, and having a new, high speed, state of the art transportation system will be a noticeable improvement not only in the winter on Champagne Powder snow mornings, but also during the summer with our popular sunset happy hours,” said Perlman.

The Silver Bullet opened in 1986 and was upgraded with new terminal equipment, grips and hangers in 2017 after more than 80,000 hours of operation.

The Doppelmayr machine will transport 38 percent more guests per hour with a ride time under 10 minutes.  Capacity will surge from 2,600 per hour to 3,600 with 137 cabins moving at six meters per second, up from five.  “From day one, Alterra Mountain Company has emphasized our commitment to enhancing the guest experience across our family of 14 North American destinations,” noted David Perry, CEO at Alterra.  “We are focused on improving every aspect of a guest’s visit, while preserving each destination’s unique character and traditions.  Steamboat’s new gondola fits seamlessly within our plans. We are excited to invest in infrastructure, and proud of the positive impact it will make on the community, our guests, and the future of Steamboat.”  Construction on the $15 million project is set to begin April 15th.  Alterra has pledged to spend more than $550 million at its resorts over five years and hopefully Steamboat’s gondola is the first of many new lifts for the company in 2019.

40 thoughts on “Steamboat to Build New, Faster Gondola

  1. lutz1140 November 30, 2018 / 8:32 pm

    With the rebuild in 2017, is there any chance the old Silver Bullet could be re-used on the alignment going up to Rough Rider Basin/Thunderhead as part of that plan? Thoughts?


  2. alex November 30, 2018 / 8:57 pm

    Perhaps they are simply upgrading the cabins and introducing new gearing for 6 m/s? Will it still be a 8 PAX?


    • Peter Landsman November 30, 2018 / 9:14 pm

      For $15 million, it has to be more than just new cabins. 3,600 would normally mean 10 passenger cabins but they didn’t specify.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ryan November 30, 2018 / 9:13 pm

    I was hoping we’d see a new HSQ or 6 to get skiers up the mountain to supplement the current Gondola. If the Gondola goes down there isn’t much that the other base lifts that are there now can do (Christy III and Christy Express)


  4. Ryan November 30, 2018 / 9:14 pm

    With another base lift to get up to at least where the Gondola unloads, they could probably do away with Christy III which is only used as backup to CE and on very busy days..


  5. Collin Parsons November 30, 2018 / 9:27 pm

    I don’t see how they achieve a capacity of 3600/hr without going to 10 passenger cabins. To keep it at 8 passengers, it would require a loading interval of only 8 seconds which is impractical without double loading. Notice how on the current gondola the cabins are spaced as close as they possibly can be on the straights and how the turnarounds speed up so they are roped off and people can’t load there. If they tried to build an 8 passenger gondola with that design capacity and no double loading, it would be way too fast for loading and the speed would be turned down, negating any capacity increase.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Billy B December 1, 2018 / 11:50 am

      Doppelmayr built an 8 passenger gondola in Solden, Austria that has a capacity of 3,600 people per hour with 8 passenger cabins and 6 m/s line speed. Loading and unloading only occurs while cabins are moving in a straight line and both stations are enclosed in large buildings, could be similar to the new system at Steamboat if they choose 8 passenger. (

      They poured a lot of money into that lift over the summer (hangars, grips, tire banks, tension, return bullwheel, controls, and more) and it will be interesting to hear what, if any, of that can be used on the new system. I will be looking forward to more updates from Steamboat. Nevertheless, exciting upgrade for one of the most signature lifts in the state!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Brendan December 1, 2018 / 1:44 pm

      I can tell you atleast right now they don’t have guests load on their own. They have staff on hand to load equipment for guests and they have a foreman of sorts who directs guests to make sure they get 8. If they were continuing with this method they can load that gondola quite quickly. They also only load on the straight part as someone else pointed out.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. skier November 30, 2018 / 9:48 pm

    I was hoping for the new lift to the left of Pioneer, especially after the remodel, gapers win again.


  7. reaperskier December 1, 2018 / 4:25 am

    Is there a chance that this new lift could be a D-Line?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Winterparkrat December 1, 2018 / 6:55 am

    Are they going with a direct drive like the new instal at winter park?


  9. Cameron Halmrast December 1, 2018 / 9:44 am

    The biggest problem with the current gondola is its inability to service both passengers and food service adequately. The current gondola has four gondola cabins that are dedicated to bringing food up the mountain and every time they enter the top or bottom of the lift, the entire gondola slows down to a crawl as the food and beverage manager for Steamboat refuses to use other means, like snowcats. Hopefully the new system will allow for these select cabins to come off the line on the fly and allow employees to unload the cabins without slowing down the line speed. The new gondola system also is way more sensitive to wind than the old gondola because of the requirement of new wind sensors. With the slightest breeze at the top of Christie, the gondola slows down to a crawl making the trip take 4 times longer to get to the top. Not sure what they can do to get to a higher capacity unless they funitel or 3s system is installed, but that’s pretty impractical as both terminal structures (restaurant / mountain operations) would have to be heavily modified to accommodate such an elaborate system.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leigh December 1, 2018 / 4:07 pm

      The cargo cabins are quite helpful to have and a necessity for the operations at the top of the gondola- snowcats would not be sufficient for the amount of food and garbage a swell as retail that needs to go up that lift, its really not a big deal to slow the lift long enough to unload the cargo cars..
      I think they are replacing because they are unhappy with the work done on the current lift from my understanding… new technology will have its perks, but also that auto slow can be a pain, but parameters can be set for this as well.


    • Collin Parsons December 1, 2018 / 5:14 pm

      Its not like the just slowed it down for 10 seconds or so to transfer the food cars on and off. The lift slowed to a crawl for well over a minute or even fully stopped. They should design carts for food and garbage that can be loaded into the regular cabins with the seats folded up. The new system will have level walk in cabins for sure, making this much easier. If this can’t be done, then they need to only do deliveries to and from the lodge during hours when the gondola is not open to the public.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Leigh December 2, 2018 / 3:35 pm

        most of the time this is the case- the F&B always have a cabin loaded in morning and all trash is taken after hours as well- I can’t see any issue with their procedures myself having worked on this machine specifically for several years


  10. snowbasinlocal12894 December 1, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    I hope they replace the whole thing and not just upgrade it with new cabins and new drive equipment. It might get to the point it would be cheaper to replace the whole thing than keep upgrading components. At the same time the gondola would look alot nicer. Never knew it was the first MGD-8 though.


    • Collin Parsons December 1, 2018 / 6:48 pm

      They say it is a new gondola. For 15 million they have to be upgrading more than just the terminals and cabins. There will likely be new towers and line gear as well. They may reuse the hanger arms if keeping it an 8 passenger gondola.

      Liked by 1 person

      • OM April 2, 2019 / 6:47 pm

        They replaced the hangers last year so I’m guessing they will keep those around as they would just wait if they didn’t want to keep them.


  11. Ryan December 1, 2018 / 11:24 pm

    Strange how I feel as passionate about the Steamboat Gondola as I did for the old Wildcat chair and other lifts at my beloved Snowbasin. I’ve hardly spent any time at Steamboat, yet it seems to be my favorite Colorado resort to study and frequently check on the webcams for. It’s a beautiful village and beautiful community.


    • snowbasinlocal12894 December 2, 2018 / 1:43 pm

      A bit off topic. Have you rode the new wildcat yet? Snowbasin is getting lots of snow right now and they are trying to open porcupine.


      • Ryan December 2, 2018 / 6:37 pm

        No, haven’t skiied there in years :( Bad knee but working on it. They did get Porky open today though! Chairs are looking a bit rusty :( Bring on Beckers and Strawberry!!


        • snowbasinlocal12894 December 3, 2018 / 8:47 am

          The galvanizing on the hangar on that chair looks like its starting to wear off. Shows how tough stadeli chairlifts were built. Wish snowbasin would add a seat pads to becker and porky like on middle bowl. its difficult to load if you are a beginner because of the hard plastic seat. Porky got new climb out sheaves this winter.


        • Ryan December 3, 2018 / 7:40 pm

          Oh definitely. Stadeli knew how to build heavy duty fixed grip lifts! From what I understand they would spec the drive components to be a bit over what was needed as well. Thanks for the update on Porky. I knew they were doing some moderate work on it this past summer and I was told they were doing moderate work on Becker as well, so may want to check into that. I started riding the twins when they were only a year old after graduating from Littlecat back in the 80s. Smoooooooth as butter is what I remember. As for Middlebowl.. I hope it stays for a long time to come, but wouldn’t mind them adding some safety bars to the thing.. you know why.

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Kai Glidden December 2, 2018 / 4:38 pm

    Any chance of the gondola being relocated somewhere?


    • Ryan December 2, 2018 / 6:40 pm

      There would need to be new terminals created for it if they did- The current terminals are integrated into bottom multi-level offices and the top terminal integrated into the top Thunderhead Lodge, I believe. With cabin parking up top.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Scott December 3, 2018 / 11:16 am

    I’m loving all of this money that Altera is planning to throw around, I’m super excited for the planned work at Mammoth. Its hasn’t seen much in terms of improvements over the last decade

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andrew December 3, 2018 / 9:20 pm

      So are they getting 137 all new cabins or are they adding 12 new ones to the line?


  14. Peter Landsman December 3, 2018 / 6:10 pm

    Story updated with more details on the upgrade. Sounds like the 2017 components are staying and this project will replace the rest.


    • Ryan December 3, 2018 / 7:42 pm

      GOOOD. I would hate to see all that money they spent in 2017 thrown away like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Tommy B December 3, 2018 / 7:43 pm

    Courtesy of Snow Brains, FWIW. The Doppelmayr-designed gondola will feature new level-walk-in cabins, plus an additional 12 cabins added to the line, increasing from 125 to 137 total cabins. The current ride time will go from 12 minutes to less than 10 with increased speeds from five meters per second to six meters per second, increasing uphill capacity nearly 38 percent from 2,600 people per hour to 3,600. The new gondola cabin design will allow the resort to streamline freight hauling, eliminating guest impact while hauling more than 10,000 pounds of food up per day to support on-mountain dining. The new gondola will feature all new drives, brakes, line equipment, and top-station bull wheel, along with all new towers to support the new machine.


    • Collin Parsons December 6, 2018 / 5:09 pm

      Skis inside. Ugh.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Max Hart December 6, 2018 / 7:08 pm

        It’s like they’re asking everyone to scratch the windows with their equipment. Coolest ski rack ever was on the old Wildcat Gondola.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Teddy's Lift World April 3, 2019 / 9:24 am

          Some gondolas in Europe have a great solution to the ski rack problem. Inside the cabins, there are slots in the floor. Everybody’s skis can slot into those slots and then all of the skis are neat and organized. If Steamboat is not going to add racks to the cabins, they should use these slots instead. I wonder if Steamboat will use the new Omega Vs for the new cabins. If so, what features would they opt for?


    • Collin Parsons December 7, 2018 / 6:12 am

      This is most likely not the exact cabins they are getting. Looks like an Omega III so it’s probably just an extra cabin Doppelmayr had lying around as is the case with most demo cabins. The actual ones may have ski racks, but they went skis inside for Winter Park.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Colorado_Local April 2, 2019 / 9:11 pm

    Max look at the ski racks on the boe gondola in corvara italy


  17. Casey April 30, 2019 / 11:02 pm

    Does anyone know how to acquire one of the old gondola cars?


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