For the second time in nine seasons, the aging Lift 1A on Aspen Mountain will be out of commission for an extended time while Aspen Skiing Co. seeks a replacement part, the company announced Friday.
The lift on the west side of the Aspen Mountain base broke down Thursday afternoon, temporarily stranding passengers.
“The lift went down just after 3 p.m.,” SkiCo Vice President of Communications Jeff Hanle said in an email. “After determining we could not run the lift, patrol started a rope evac at 3:25 p.m. There were nine people on the line and the evac was completed at 4:08 p.m.”
The evacuations went well and no passengers were injured, Hanle said.
When lift maintenance teams examined the lift, they determined it needed a new part that was no longer in stock, Hanle said. Instead, it must be fabricated.
“The part should be ready and delivered late next week and the teams will make the needed repairs at that time,” Hanle wrote.
Hanle told the Aspen Daily News on Friday there is no concern that the delay will affect World Cup alpine men’s races in Aspen March 1-3. The part should be fabricated and installed well before the World Cup entourage hits town. However, it will affect course preparation.
Snowcats will be used to haul personnel and equipment while the lift is down. That will require intermittent closures of trails served by Lift 1A after this weekend, Hanle said.
For SkiCo customers, the Little Nell and Bell chairs will operate while Lift 1A is down to provide alternative access to the Silver Queen Gondola.
Lift 1A is a fixed-grip double chairlift that was installed in 1972. In the 2014-15 season, a tooth on a gear broke and forced a closure of the chairlift for more than two weeks. Then as now, SkiCo initially couldn’t find a replacement part. Ultimately the company found an old, unused gearbox in Grand Junction that could be used for repairs.
At that time, former SkiCo Vice President of Mountain Operations Rich Burkley said the old chair should be good to spin for another 40 years. It made it nine years instead. The chairlift is slated to be replaced as part of an upgrade on the western base with two new tourist properties. Hanle said the breakdown doesn’t add any urgency to the replacement.
“It’s an old lift,” he said. “There is a process going on now to replace that lift.”
By: Scott Condon| Aspen Daily News I February 10, 2024