Crystal Mountain, WA – Preparations for the new gondola at Crystal Mountain ski resort, Washington State’s first, began on Monday with the demolition of the Market and Bumps Espresso stand, the site where the bottom terminal of the new ski lift will be located.nFrom there, the gondola will travel up the Exterminator run and finish at the top of the Rainier Express chairlift after passing through 13 lift towers. Construction is expected to be completed by November/December 2010.
Crystal Mountain will be the only ski area in Washington and Oregon to have a gondola.
“The addition of the gondola is a big step towards becoming a year-round resort and recreation area,” said Crystal spokeswoman Tiana Enger. “It will also take a little pressure off the winter months and create year-round jobs for employees.”
Foot passengers will now be able to access vistas of nearby Mt. Rainier and Summit House dining during the winter, as well as the summer months. Crystal executives hopes the gondola will become a big attraction for those traveling to Mount Rainier National Park during the summer. “This is going to really change the way we position ourselves here in the Northwest,” said Enger.
Crystal also plans to expand its summer special event business such as weddings, meetings, retreats and other gatherings. Crystal has a full-service catering department that can accommodate groups up to 500.
The gondola will allow Crystal to open earlier and stay open longer, expanding the winter season. Once the lifts shut down for the day during the winter, the gondola will provide access to the mountain-top restaurant for après-ski and dinner. Crystal plans to expand the Summit House restaurant during the summer of 2012, including a bar, additional seating and possibly private meeting space.
There will initially be only eighteen eight-passenger cabins on the lift, with the option of adding an additional eighteen cabins at a later time. The initial cabins will bring 450 people per hour to the summit in less than 10 minutes. The maximum uphill capacity once the additional cabins are added will be 900 people per hour.
The price tag for the Dopplemayr gondola is $5.3 million, not including construction and labor costs. Construction is now underway and will provide summer work for nearly 20 Crystal Mountain employees would would otherwise have been laid off.