Maintenance will delay summer gondola operations at Aspen

Skico targeting early July reopening for Silver Queen Gondola

Sun streams in on an empty gondola plaza on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. Aspen Skiing Co. will use 'ghost lanes' to socially distance skiers and riders during the winter. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Postseason maintenance on the Silver Queen Gondola at Aspen Mountain will push the gondola’s summer opening date to early July, according to Katie Ertl, Aspen Skiing Co. Senior Vice President of Mountain Operations.

Skico is replacing the haul rope (the cable that carries gondola cabs to the top of the mountain), Ertl announced at a Snowmass “Tourism Talks” webinar Wednesday morning; the Aspen Mountain Club will also close for the duration of the summer season for renovations, Ertl said.

The gondola project will likely begin with a few days of teardown shortly after Aspen Mountain’s April 18 closing date, Ertl said in a phone call Wednesday afternoon. (Skico has not yet decided when or whether it will offer an end-of-season employee ski day after the lifts close to the public, according to Ertl.)

“Machine maintenance” on the towers and sheave trains that keep the cable on track could begin April 20 or 21; the gondola will go back online May 29 only for a private wedding at the Sundeck, Ertl said. Normally, the gondola opens for the summer on Memorial Day weekend and continues weekend operations throughout the month of June.

The haul rope replacement will begin around June 6 or 7 when the new haul rope arrives in two parts. The project will take roughly 3 to 4 weeks to complete as workers remove cabs from the old cable and reattach them to the new cable, which will be spliced together according to Ertl.

“Hopefully everything goes really well and we are back up July 2,” Ertl said.

Hikers can expect more traffic on the mountain and no access to top-of-mountain facilities at the Sundeck during the closure, Ertl said; there will be no public uploading or downloading on the gondola until July.

Guests should not take movement on the gondola as a sign that it is open to the public during the summer project period, Ertl cautioned.

“You may see it running and that’s for the purpose of maintenance,” she said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the name of the sheave trains that keep the gondola cable on track.