Alyeska Resort says its aerial tramway will reopen Saturday, albeit with only one tramcar running, after a wind gust smashed a car into the tram's lone tower New Year's Eve.
Skiers and snowboarders will be able to ride the one functioning tram car to the ski area's 2,330-foot level, the resort said in a written statement Friday. Seven Glaciers restaurant, which guests access via the tram, is set to reopen on Valentines Day.
On New Year's Eve, a wind gust of more than 40 mph blew one car into the tramway's 150-foot tower, skewering the car on a railing, the resort said. A passenger in the car, 15-year-old Catie Quinn, hit her head on a bench. Rescuers evacuated Quinn, her friend and three Alyeska employees about five hours later, Quinn said. Quinn later needed eight staples to close up a gash on her head, she said.
The resort's director of marketing, Jessica Pezak, said Quinn and her friend did not buy tickets to ride the tram, nor did they have dinner reservations that would have allowed them onboard. As a result, the resort fired a tram operator and a tram supervisor and suspended another operator -- the three employees in the battered car, Pezak said.
"We try to be cognizant of that kind of behavior," Pezak said.
According to Alyeska Resort, workers installed a steel ballast car weighing more than 8,000 pounds in the place of the damaged car, which they are still repairing. The ballast car will counter the weight of riders in the one functioning car, but requires a slower speed: A trip from bottom to top will now take a little less than eight minutes, and only four round-trips per hour will be possible, the resort said. A normal one-way tram trip takes about four minutes, according to Alyeska's website.
The resort expects its damaged car to be repaired and the tramway to be working normally by the end of May.
Reach Casey Grove at email@example.com or 257-4589.
By CASEY GROVE