Crystal Mountain and Summit East ski areas await improvements

Delays: Crystal gondola needs tighter wire; Summit East not ready to open

December 22, 2010 

Crystal Mountain and Summit East ski areas await improvements

The Mt. Rainier Gondola opening at Crystal Mountain was delayed for a second time after the gondola cable stretched. Officials said it will not be ready until at least January 2.


Not even Santa will be able to deliver two items on the wish lists of local skiers and snowboarders in time for Christmas.

Delays at Crystal Mountain and the Summit at Snoqualmie will keep both from introducing long-awaited amenities this week as planned.

Crystal officials hoped to unveil a $5.5 million gondola Thursday, while the Summit hoped this would be the week Summit East, including 65 acres of new terrain, re-opened for the first time since a landslide destroyed the main lift in 2009.

The gondola cable is the trouble at Crystal.

While preparing to run a load test Tuesday morning, engineers discovered that the cable stretched more than 3 feet overnight. The cable will need to be tightened and re-spliced. Crystal spokeswoman Tiana Enger said the opening will be delayed “at least a week.”

Summit spokeswoman Holly Lippert did not specify why the opening of Summit East is delayed but said the ski area hopes it will open Jan. 8.

While the ski areas, both operated by Boyne Resorts, won’t have new amenities ready until at least Jan. 2, the resorts are otherwise fully operational.

“While this setback is disappointing, smooth functioning of the gondola is more important than meeting a deadline,” Boyne president John Kircher said in a statement. “We are committed to doing this right.”

Enger said it’s not uncommon for lift cables to stretch, but the gondola cable stretched too far.

“This is not a safety concern. It’s just unfortunate that it’s happening right now,” she said.

Because of the holidays, the splicing specialist from the Austria-based Doppelmayer lift company is unavailable to make the repair until next week. The ski area plans to run load testing on the gondola next week after the cable is tightened.

The gondola will be the first ever installed at a Washington ski area and will carry visitors from the base area to the top of Green Valley in less than 10 minutes. Skiers and snowboarders currently take two lifts to reach Green Valley in about 18 minutes.

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497

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