Here is what the Park record in Park City wrote about.
Ski lift closed indefinitely
Resort keeps terrain open and is confident skiers can navigate slopes
By Jay Hamburger, OF THE RECORD STAFF
Park City Mountain Resort said this week that its Silverlode lift will be closed indefinitely as a result of mechanical problems, leaving the resort without a key transit option between mid-mountain and the upper elevations of the resort just weeks before spring-break crowds arrive.
Still, the resort is confident that skiers and snowboarders will not be hindered by Silverlode's shutdown and said that PCMR will not be forced to close any of its runs. The runs normally accessible off Silverlode can be reached with the Motherlode, King Con, Bonanza and Thaynes lifts, resort spokeswoman Krista Parry said.
"The way you access the mountain and the Silverlode lift area and the ability to lap the area has changed," she said. "It doesn't diminish the experience."
PCMR announced steps in the middle of the week in an effort to manage the flow of skiers and snowboarders under the new conditions.
PCMRs Silverlode lift is closed indefinitely after mechanical problems forced its shutdown on Feb. 18. A 12,000-pound part of the lift known as the bull-wheel assembly was transported to the manufacturer in Salt Lake for repairs. Jason Hunter/Park Record
"I don't know if there is anything that is most problematic," Parry said, adding that perhaps skiers and snowboarders will choose runs that they usually do not use.
Some of the measures the resort has taken include changing the grooming schedule, opening the Ski Team lift to regular skiers throughout the week and posting staffers on the mountain to assist skiers and snowboarders navigating the lift closure.
Parry said PCMR will groom up to 10 runs that are normally mogul trails. Most runs at the Silverlode lift will not be groomed, a change from the resort's normal practice.
Meanwhile, regular skiers and snowboarders will have access to the Ski Team lift every day. Ski Team is normally closed on weekdays. The lift takes people from nearby the resort's base area to a point at the top of terrain known as the Ski Team ridge. From there, they can get to other lifts to access the rest of the resort.
Parry said PCMR will groom six or seven runs on a rotating basis accessible by Ski Team. The resort usually does not groom that terrain.
Silverlode, a six-passenger lift, broke down on Feb. 18, the Friday of President's Day weekend, with close to 200 aboard. Parry reported that it took a little less than 2 hours using ropes to evacuate the people from the lift, which experienced the problems at about 2:30 p.m.
Parry said nobody was injured during the operation and few of the people stuck on Silverlode were angry. One woman on the lift when it stopped, Polly Mohr, from Indiana, described the experience to The Park Record as "eerie" and that the skiers were "dangling in the air."
Peter Curtis, PCMR's president and general manager, in a prepared statement praised the resort staffers who assisted.
"The uniqueness of this situation presented our lift-maintenance crew with challenges that not only tested their expert mechanical skills but also their imagination and ingenuity," Curtis said in the statement, released by the resort on Wednesday.
The resort installed the lift before the 1996-1997 ski season. It was PCMR's first six-passenger lift. Its uphill capacity is close to 3,000 people per hour.
Bill Malone, the executive director of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, said the typical PCMR visitor will not notice that the lift is out of operation.
"If you're not a local, I'm not sure it negatively impacts your experience," Malone said.
Malone also said he doubts that the breakdown will influence people as they make decisions about whether to travel to Park City during the remainder of the season. He said the area's three mountain resorts offer lots of options.
"I've never heard of anyone changing their ski vacation based on the fact one lift out of three resorts was inoperable," Malone said.
According to a statement from the resort, the mechanical failure occurred in the lift's gear box. The component that failed is what is described as "an intricate piece of the 12,000 pound bull-wheel assembly."
The resort transported the bull-wheel assembly to a Salt Lake City warehouse, where the manufacturer will rebuild the equipment. Parry said the resort is unsure how much the repairs will cost and the price tag will not be known until the manufacturer determines the nature of the repairs.
A timeline for the lift reopening is delayed until the manufacturer, Doppelmayr CTEC, evaluates the problems.
Mike Beeley, the vice president of marketing for Doppelmayr CTEC, the successor to a previous company, said a ring gear inside what is known as the bull-wheel planetary drive fractured, causing a loud noise.
He said lift attendants stopped Silverlode and found that the gear box had become locked, forcing the resort to close the lift. He said the problem occurred in the upper terminal of the lift.
Beeley said such breakdowns are "extremely rare."
"We build the lifts to last 20 or 30 years without this type of failure," he said.
Beeley said the company is dismantling the equipment and waiting for replacement parts being manufactured in Switzerland. He is unsure how much the repairs will cost.
"We're hoping assembly will take place next week, starting Monday," he said.
He is confident that the lift will be operating again during the current ski season.
The resort does not plan to cut the number of lift tickets it sells each day, nor does it plan to lower lift-ticket prices, Parry said.
"The entire mountain is open. There is still a great experience out there to be had," she said.