By Mark Esper
The chairlift at Kendall Mountain Ski Area came to an abrupt halt at 2:40 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17, with lots of skiers and snowboarders still on board.
But it wasn’t due to a malfunction.
It was a brief observance of the lift’s 1,000th hour of operation since it was installed in 2006.
And Jacob Rogers, 12, of Aztec, N.M., was the lucky rider who won a free season pass at Kendall Mountain and other prizes for being at the right place at the right time.
Ski lift operator Jeff Gallegos said ridership is up this year and the ski area is growing increasingly popular for visitors from northwest New Mexico and from Ridgway and Ouray.
“We’re doing good,” Gallegos said, adding that the ski area is particularly popular with families.
“It’s a good learning area and it’s affordable,” Gallegos said. “People love it for that reason.”
Gallegos noted the ski lift has had no down time since it was installed.
Silverton resident Bill Alsup, who installed the lift for the town, said it has helped breathe new life into Kendall Mountain Ski Area.
“It’s become a fantastic gathering place for the community,” Alsup said, “which is what I’d hoped it would be.”
And Alsup is of course pleased that the lift has had such a smooth operation since its installation.
“A thousand hours trouble-free. Having been in the business (of constructing chairlifts) for 50 years, it’s rare to see that,” Alsup said.
He gave credit to the ski lift operators.
“It’s an A Team,” Alsup said. “I credit Jeff (Gallegos) and Gilbert (Archuleta) and the town Public Works Department and how they are backing it up.”
Alsup noted the lift has passed state inspections with flying colors, including a recent unannounced inspection.
“That’s the scary one,” Alsup said, “because you can’t prepare for it.”
But Alsup said the lift again came through with only “a couple tiny things” noted by the inspector.
“I see a lot of other operations,” Alsup said. “We’re doing a good job here and it’s only going to get better.”