Silver Queen lift down for days after cable issue from wind

CBMR really doesn’t want to talk about it…

By Mark Reaman

Crested Butte’s primary lift was down for about four and a half days this past week as crews worked to get it up and spinning after a cable issue apparently made the lift unsafe to haul people. The Silver Queen experienced a high-wind event on March 6 that led to a critical cable being damaged. As a result, the Red Lady Express was the primary lift used to get people up the mountain from the Base Area between Thursday, March 7 and Monday afternoon, March 11.

On Saturday, when more than 6,000 people were expected to ski at the resort, a wide maze was set up at Red Lady to handle the start of the spring break crowds and locals there for a powder morning. While shut down, the ski area allowed people to hike to the High Lift from the top of Paradise. The trek on Saturday morning from the line at Red Lady to the base of the High Lift took approximately an hour.

CBMR senior communications specialist Zack Pickett sent a statement Monday morning before the lift was fixed later that afternoon. “During the overnight winter storm on Wednesday, March 6, heavy snow and high winds damaged the communication line on the Silver Queen Express, which provides the electrical connection between the top and bottom terminals of the lift, as well as the towers all along the line. CBMR, supported by experts from Leitner-Poma, the manufacturer of the lift, have been working around the clock to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

The lift was operating and loading people late Monday afternoon. Pickett sent an email at about 2:45 p.m. stating that the “Silver Queen Express Lift is now open to the public.”

CBMR declined to comment further on the situation, even after a successful fix to the problem.

When asked such controversial questions such as: “How many people were working on the issue? Were they from other resorts as well as Crested Butte? Did you get the needed part or cable from another Vail Resorts ski area? Or did you have to order from the manufacturer? How many ‘man-hours’ do you think went into solving the issue over the four to five days? Is the plan to totally replace that cable in the coming summer? How happy are you all that it got solved before the next big wave of spring breakers?”

The ski resort did not answer, but sent an email explaining, “…We will not be sharing any additional details regarding the lift.”

(Editor’s Note: This is where I would normally write about a tight-lipped corporate attitude that is apparently afraid of even “good news” transparency in the community where it operates. But there were more pressing and actually more serious issues to address on Page 2 this week. Perhaps the new CBMR management team just figured no one noticed the flagship lift was broken for five days and it is better to pretend everything is perfect in Ski Resort Land. Or maybe they feel the locals shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about how a big company gets its business done… In my opinion, it would be a mistake this early in the game for the new ski area management that claims they want to integrate into this unique community, to not see the connection between community and communication.)

So we can’t share how happy the resort was that they got the problem solved or how they ultimately did it. Maybe it really never happened.

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