This week in Aspen history: Silver Gondola
“Business as usual on Aspen Mountain,” stated The Aspen Times on Nov. 27, 1986. “Aspen Mountain opened today with one new and one revamped quad chairlift, about 50% of its terrain available to skiers and several changes in key personnel on the mountain. The top to bottom Silver Queen gondola, with the world’s longest vertical rise, is expected to begin its operation on Dec. 20. When all lifts are completed and operating, Aspen Mountain’s skier capacity will be increased by 33%. That translates to an uphill capacity of 11, 575 skiers per hour instead of last year’s 8,675. Little Nell has been transformed into a high-speed quad. The pokey Lift 3, once a source of much congestion, has also been upgraded to a high-speed chair. Despite the increased uphill capacity, the Ski Co has not done much terrain expansion. The Ridge of Bell has been widened to accommodate the gondola, but that area will not be open until after the lift is completed. Skiers have been told in no uncertain terms, ‘no skiing under the gondola line.’ Evidence of the almost-finished gondola is apparent everywhere. At the bottom, skiers were directed away from the main Little Nell entrance. And at the top, persons were squired away from the top terminal’s construction. But within a month all of the minor irritations will become only a faded memory, as skiers are quickly whisked to the summit in less than 15 minutes. Here’s to a good season.”
The image above shows cabins for the Silver Queen Gondola ready to go on the cable on the opening day of the ski season, 1986. (Aspen Historical Society/Aspen Times Collection)
“Without any exception the worst snow storm known since the advent of the railroad west of Leadville has been raging over the crest of the continental divide since last Thursday,” asserted the Aspen Tribune on January 31, 1899.