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With Alterra Funds, Steamboat Commits To New Gondola

Steamboat-Gondola Main gondola at Steamboat ready for summer replacement. (Steamboat/Facebook)

The Steamboat Gondola has been the main transport onto the northern Colorado mountain since 1986, prompting new owner Alterra Mountain Co. to install a new gondola to get skiers and riders up and on the slopes more quickly.

In 2017, previous resort ownership made upgrades of inner works to the eight-passenger lift, but Denver-based Alterra ownership said it is ready to go full in after purchasing the 55-year-old resort at the end of the 2017 season.

The new lift, which is expected to be installed next summer, will:

  • Increase uphill capacity by 38 percent.
  • Cut ride time from 12 minutes to less than 10 minutes.
  • Increase speed by 20 percent.
  • Hang 10 percent more cabins, increasing uphill capacity to 3,600 people per hour.

Steamboat officials say that construction will begin April 15, 2019, when the resort is scheduled to close for the season. And, they plan to have it up and running for the full 2019-2020 season.

Skiers, riders and sightseers will get to mid-mountain Thunderhead more quickly next season. (Larry Pierce/Steamboat) 

The new lift will follow the same footprint as the previous one, which replaced the original gondola on Steamboat Mountain that was built in 1970 – one of the earliest gondolas in Colorado.

For this summer, the gondola won’t be able to bring mountain bikers up to mid-mountain or sightseers to the Thunderhead Lodge. Instead, mountain managers will link together several chairlifts to get mountain bikers up the hill in summer 2019.

More in-bounds glade skiing and riding in coming seasons. (Larry Pierce/Steamboat)

In the future, Alterra has plans for a new lift and in-bounds terrain in the popular glades of Pioneer Ridge. The expansion was recently approved by the U.S. Forest Service. And, owners want to expand beginner and learning areas around the mountain, following a trend throughout the ski and snowboard resort industry.

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