Aspen Skiing Co. hopes to have the Silver Queen Gondola operating on Aspen Mountain by the afternoon of New Year’s Day.
Crews from Skico and chairlift manufacturer Poma scrambled Tuesday night to try to repair bearings in the bull wheel in the upper lift station, according to Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle. The work and testing was expected to extend through the morning, he said. If all goes as planned, he said, it will be operational sometime Wednesday afternoon.
Skico’s website will update the situation by about 5 a.m. Wednesday, he said.
The gondola — the premiere lift on Aspen Mountain — was closed Monday and Tuesday, two of the busiest days of the season. Skiers and riders were warned that the lift was disabled and told they might want to consider one of Skico’s other mountains.
No terrain was closed on Aspen Mountain. Access was provided by slower, older chairlifts that provided an alternative to the gondola.
Hanle said Skico racked up just shy of 20,000 skier visits at its four ski areas on Monday and Tuesday. That’s on par with what was expected, he said.
The gondola’s mechanical problem was discovered Sunday night. A member of the lift maintenance crew spotted an oil leak during routine inspection, according to Hanle. He said a “post mortem” will be performed on the bearings after they are replaced to determine the problem.
“They need to replace a couple of bearings. Why that occurred, we don’t know,” he said.
Hanle said the replacement parts were found “somewhere in the southeast.” They were being flown to the Garfield County Airport in Rifle in a chartered Lear jet Tuesday evening at 6 p.m., he said. Hanle said information wasn’t available on how the part was found or what type of industry provided it. Considering it came from the southeast part of the country, it is unlikely it came from a lift manufacturer, he said.