As if Crystal Mountain needs to lure any more people to its slopes, the ski area will finally open its new gondola Saturday morning.
On Thursday, the ski area stationed an employee at the foot of Crystal Mountain Boulevard to turn away skiers and snowboarders (and offer free lift ticket vouchers) because the ski area was at capacity.
Crystal planned to open the Mt. Rainier Gondola, the first gondola for any Washington ski area, on Dec. 10, but the unveiling was delayed on multiple occasions. Most recently workers discovered on Dec. 21 that the cable had stretched more than three feet. The cable was tightened and re-spliced this week. Load testing on the $5.5 million gondola is expected to finish today, said ski area spokeswoman Justus Hyatt.
The gondola will whisk visitors from the base area to the top of Green Valley in less than 10 minutes. The trip currently takes about 18 minutes and two chairlift rides. Use of the gondola will cost $8 in addition to a regular $65 lift ticket.