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You’ll definitely experience a lot more days of driving snow than bluebird skies riding in the Northwest, which is probably why Washington pumps out some of the gnarliest dudes around. But the Northwest-most state’s hardcore image may all change now that it has its first gondola at Crystal Mountain. In the press release below about the Jan 1 opening, you’ll learn about the breathtaking views and excitement you’ll feel about sharing a car with old people on crutches, but lets face it: gondolas are really the best for keeping unnamed flammable items from going out in the wind/sideways snow of a lift ride, and getting some between runs. Heyo! Who wants to take a trip to Crystal?
2011 began clear and cold at Crystal Mountain with families, skiers, snowboarders and foot passengers lining up as early as 7 a.m. to be the first to ride the new Mt. Rainier Gondola.
The gondola has already transported over 3,000 people from the base of Crystal Mountain to breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier and the surrounding Cascade Range at the summit.
“The best part was watching people take in the view for the first time,” said John Kircher, Crystal Mountain’s General Manager. “There were elderly people and a teenager on crutches, who would never be able to come up here without the gondola.”
Today also kicks off the start of apres, a “skier’s happy hour,” and dinners at the Summit House Restaurant. The Summit House is Washington’s highest restaurant at 6,872 feet. First Tracks breakfasts, which will allow diners to start skiing 30 minutes early, will begin on January 8.
The Mt. Rainier Gondola will be open daily. The Summit House will have apres Fridays through Sundays, dinners Fridays and Saturdays and First Tracks breakfasts Saturdays and Sundays.
Throughout the day riders were greeted with random prize cabins from local outdoor brands and retailers including JanSport, Smith, UnderArmour, Outdoor Research, Marmot, Spacecraft, Crystal Mountain Lodging Association, Pow Gloves, Wapiti Woolies, Greenwater Outfitters, Evo, Sturtevants and more.
Mt Rainier Gondola Facts:
-First gondola at a ski area in Washington
– Base elevation: 4,400 feet
– Top elevation: 6,856 feet
– Vertical rise: 2,456 feet
– Slope length: 6,901 feet
– Trip time: 9 minutes 39 seconds (approx)
– 36 cabins total (17 to start, with another 19 to be added)
– Uphill capacity: 600 people per hour, 900 after additional cabins are added
– Cabin interval: every 53 seconds, 32 seconds after additional cabins are added
– 13 towers
– Speed: 800 ft/min
– Will travel from the base area to the summit
– Costs: approx $5.5 mill