Keystone Gondola Expansion

After years of sepculation and rumors, Vail Resorts announced today that Keystone Resort will build a new 8 passenger gondola to replace the existing gondola in River Run Village in Keystone Resort. Undoubtedly, this will make real estate prices bump up accordingly at The Springs and Red Hawk Lodge in River Run Village since the base of the gondola will be moved into the Hunki Dori parking lot between the two condo complexes. How much remains to be seen. This of course is exactly what Keystone has needed for years and will prove to make Keystone Resort a bigger and better destination ski resort than it already is.
New River Run Gondola will replace the existing six-passenger gondola with upgraded features, mid-station loading and unloading and relocating the bottom terminal into River Run Village.

KEYSTONE, Colo. — Dec. 21, 2007— Today, Keystone announced plans to install a new state-of-the-art eight-passenger gondola to replace the current six-passenger River Run Gondola for the 2008-2009 ski and snowboard season. A key component of the plan includes moving the bottom terminal of the new River Run Gondola into the River Run Village, significantly enhancing the guest experience for both River Run destination guests as well as day visitors parking at the River Run Village, by making access to the gondola easier.

According to Pat Campbell, chief operating officer for Keystone, the new state-of-the-art River Run Gondola represents the first step in future development for Keystone.

“Our mission at Keystone is to provide our guests an exceptional experience,” Campbell said. “The new River Run Gondola will represent the most significant on-mountain project at Keystone since the opening of the Outback Mountain in 1990 and will be the largest on-mountain project for Vail Resorts next year.”

The upgraded River Run Gondola will follow the same alignment as the existing gondola with the top terminal located in the same location at the summit of Dercum Mountain. A new mid-station will be constructed halfway up Dercum Mountain with loading and unloading in both directions, giving skiers and snowboarders an option to access the upper trails from mid-mountain and to download at the end of their ski day.

The new base area terminal will be proximate to two Vail Resorts real estate development sites, which will allow for new development at River Run tied directly to the new gondola access onto the mountain.

“We’re making a deliberate decision to upgrade the guest experience by significantly shortening the walk to the new gondola from the village or parking lot, improving access to the mountain and increasing the capacity of the gondola,” Campbell said. “Keystone plans to purchase a state-of-the-art gondola from Doppelmayr that utilizes the latest drive technology and is expected to be 30 to 40 percent more energy efficient than other modern ski chairlifts or gondolas.”

According to Campbell, the new cabins were designed with passenger comfort in mind with floor-to-ceiling windows providing the best possible view and with room to accommodate skis and snowboards inside the cabin. Additionally, the new gondola will offer level walk-in heated load and unload stations to provide convenient access for wheelchairs, mountain bikes, strollers, sight seers, mountaintop tubing hill guests and night-time dining guests.

With a vertical rise of 2,307 feet and a top-to-bottom average trip time of less than 12 minutes, the new eight-passenger River Run Gondola will transport about 2,400 people per hour, more than twice the current level. Keystone plans to operate the new River Run Gondola winter and summer.

Construction for the gondola is expected to begin April 2008 with a planned opening for the 2008-2009 ski and snowboard season.

In the second phase of this project, a new skier bridge will be constructed to replace the current pedestrian bridge, which will allow guests to ski directly from the mountain into a newly enhanced skier plaza and skier services area in the River Run Village. The enhanced skier plaza and skier services area and the new skier bridge are slated for completion during the summer of 2009.

For more information about Keystone and the new River Run Gondola project, visit keystoneresort.com.