Skiers heading to Lutsen Mountain in Northern Minnesota will get a more luxurious ride to the top after its $7 million new gondola officially went into operation on Friday.
FOX 21 reports work on the gondola started back in June, with a replacement for the one that had served for 25 years needed as the resort had grown beyond its capacity.
The lift can carry up more than 1,000 people an hour up to Moose Mountain, more than three times the number the old gondola, and has the potential to grow with the resort with a top capacity of 2,400.
"What a plush, wonderful ride," former ski instructor Sue Hansen told the Duluth News Tribune after climbing to Summit Chalet. "With the beautiful views, particularly now with the snow on the trees, I mean it is just a winter wonderland up here."
Lutsen co-owner Charles Skinner told the newspaper the Doppelmayr gondola is "really going to change things," reducing lift lines and increasing comfort for skiers.
Lutsen had a dusting of snow just in time for opening, having previously been stymied by mild weather being experienced across Minnesota, which limited the number of runs it could open.
According to its website the resort has seen 9 inches of snow fall in the past 7 days – before this it had just 4 inches all season.
Currently just 12 out of 53 primary runs with 2 out of 4 mountains are open for skiing, but the resort has told fans of its Facebook page that Moose Mountain is expected to open on Sunday – adding an extra 6-8 runs – and that it hopes to have more than 30 runs open by Dec. 27.