Vail’s Eagle Bahn Gondola Reopens Following Tower Issue

Photo credit: CBS Denver

The Eagle Bahn Gondola on Vail Mountain is carrying guests again this afternoon following a nearly six day closure.  Approximately one hour before it was scheduled to open to the public last Wednesday, a monitoring system alerted Vail lift mechanics to a tower joint problem.  Seventy four employees riding the lift at the time were brought down by rope over several hours.   The Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board and Vail Associates were in constant contact following the incident and throughout the repair process according to spokesman Lee Rasizer.  “Repairs have since been completed,” he said in a statement this afternoon.

“The resort worked diligently with lift specialists and experts to resolve the issue,” said Vail Resorts Communications Manager Jessie Vandenhouten in a separate release. “Vail places the highest value on the safety of its employees and guests and extends its apologies to those who were inconvenienced by this event.”

The CPTSB noted it conducted two inspections of Eagle Bahn within the last nine months – a licensing inspection on November 3rd, 2018 and an unannounced visit on February 15th of this year.  All necessary corrections were completed by the ski area stemming from those two inspections.

The gondola was built in 1996 by Garaventa CTEC utilizing 12 passenger CWA X model cabins.  Eagle Bahn operates not only for skiers and sightseers but also for Vail’s Epic Discovery summer program at Eagle’s Nest.  Gondola One in Vail Village provided mountain access together with shuttle buses during the extended Eagle Bahn closure on a busy holiday weekend.

14 thoughts on “Vail’s Eagle Bahn Gondola Reopens Following Tower Issue

  1. Kirk July 8, 2019 / 7:15 pm

    Looks like lots of yielded bolts. Hardware failure for some reason, wrong bolts, wrong nuts, wrong torque etc.
    Probably the comline is keeping the tower from falling uphill ??


    • Dan July 9, 2019 / 7:58 pm

      My bet is inferior grade bolts.


  2. Ryan July 8, 2019 / 10:42 pm

    Very alert lift mechs. Glad they caught this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. V12Tommy July 9, 2019 / 2:03 am

    WTF?? The force required for the bolts to yield like that is quite substantial. I thought it was a simple mechanical issue or bad sensor that shut the gondola down. That picture shows otherwise.


    • Kirk July 9, 2019 / 9:30 am

      Yeah hopefully someone will post the actual cause once its determined.
      If the proper bolts and nuts were installed and torque was OK, then maybe the footing shifted ??


    • V12Tommy July 9, 2019 / 7:29 pm

      Yes. Different gondola though. The original one that suffered the fatal accident was replaced in 1996. I still see some of the old cabins floating around from time to time. A friend of mine was one of the first ski patrol on the scene when it happened, and another friend was tasked with trying to track down the families and notify them. Here is another great article on the events that unfolded in 1976.


  4. Peter Landsman July 10, 2019 / 10:45 am

    I listened to some of this morning’s tramway board meeting and Larry Smith, Supervisory Tramway Engineer, made a few general comments. Paraphrasing:
    -Hardware difficulties.
    -Problem hardware was replaced.
    -Hardware was signed off on by an engineer.
    -Vail is conducting an internal investigation.
    -There are suspicions about a couple other possible influences.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. V12Tommy July 10, 2019 / 9:47 pm

    So the latest I heard in the village, and I have no way to check the accuracy of it yet, was that the failed joint is on tower #12, between the bottom segment of the tower and the middle segment. From what I heard, 20 of the 24 bolts holding the joint together failed.


  6. Mark Bergman July 13, 2019 / 4:04 pm

    Every tower has new, shiny, hardware now. Vail has one of the best lift maintenance crews in the world as proven by the very low rate of lift failures. Very alert lift mechanics averted what could have been a disaster. It was very close.


  7. Kirk July 13, 2019 / 5:01 pm

    Proves if you have a tower circuit fault you better go and checkout the cause.
    Probably have to wait for the Colorado Tramway Board report to find out the actual cause of the hardware failure.


    • Che Guevara July 13, 2019 / 11:40 pm

      I wonder if a disgruntled ex employee loosened the nuts. How else would so many fail at once?


      • V12Tommy July 14, 2019 / 3:22 am

        Vail definitely has quite a few of those, but being that the bolts are halfway up the tower and on the opposite side of the ladder, how would someone reach them while going unnoticed?

        I still remember like 20 years ago when the environmentalist nut jobs set fire to various structures around the mountain. At one point the investigation team thought that it might have been disgruntled current or former employees that had done it, and my first thought was, “so they narrowed down the list of suspects to the entire town of Vail?”


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