Steamboat gondola repairs begin Saturday, reopening date remains uncertain | SkyHiNews.com

Steamboat gondola repairs begin Saturday, reopening date remains uncertain

Derek Maiolo
dmaiolo@SteamboatPilot.com
Two uncovered gondola cabins pass through the lower terminal at Steamboat Resort in October. A safety test determined the gondola was OK to operate, but it malfunctioned a day after opening. Crews hope to start work on repairs Saturday.
Derek Maiolo

The replacement parts to fix Steamboat Resort’s new gondola are scheduled to arrive Friday, Nov. 29, but officials remain uncertain when the lift can reopen. 

This comes after the record-setting gondola, the fastest eight-person gondola in North America, malfunctioned on Sunday, Nov. 24, the day after it opened. The breakdown occurred after the resort closed, around 4:45 p.m., but several employees temporarily got stuck inside two cabins, according to previous Steamboat Pilot & Today reporting. Backup motors were used to unload them safely. 

Maren Franciosi, digital communications manager with the resort, said the drive line to the gearbox needs to be replaced. A new, high-speed drive also is on its way from Salt Lake City, Utah. 

According to the mechanical site anaheimautomation.com, a gearbox is a device used to increase the torque or change the speed of a motor. The drive line is what provides power to the gondola. 

Parts to make the repair should arrive in Steamboat late Friday, and crews are on scene to install them. Shipping has been complicated by temporary closures on Interstate 70 due to a rockslide on Friday, Franciosi said.

Officials expect to begin repairs on the gondola Saturday, Nov. 30, but they are unsure exactly how long those will take. 

“This is extremely technical work and will take time,” according to the resort’s website

Resort employees are working with crews from Doppelmayr Garaventa Group, the Austria-based manufacturer of the gondola, to determine the root cause of the malfunction, according to Franciosi.

In October, the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board conducted a safety check and load test on the gondola, which determined the lift was OK to operate. The gondola performed without incident during opening hours on Saturday and Sunday, Franciosi said. 

She added that the Safety Board will not have to conduct another round of testing before the gondola can reopen. 

Until the gondola is fixed, Thunderhead Express will be guests’ ride to upper terrain on the mountain. 


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