DURANGO, COLORADO – In a recent announcement that has left the local skiing community in a lurch, Hesperus Ski Area, a beloved destination in southwest Colorado, confirmed that it will not open for the upcoming 2023-24 winter season. This closure is attributed to a significant mechanical failure in the ski area’s sole chairlift.
The issue centers around the Bighorn chairlift’s gearbox, a crucial component that connects the motor to the drive bullwheel, effectively acting as the lift’s transmission. According to the ski area’s management, the gearbox has failed, and the lack of available comparable parts on the market has ruled out the possibility of a quick fix. As a result, the ski area, known for its 60 skiable acres and intimate ambiance, will be unable to provide downhill or uphill skiing, nor will it maintain the parking lots and mountain terrain.
This is not the first time the Hesperus chairlift has encountered problems. In 2017, following its acquisition by Purgatory owner James Coleman, safety issues with the lift led to a temporary closure. The current situation, however, is more severe, with the only viable solution being the re-manufacturing of the original gearbox – a process that makes it impossible for Hesperus to operate this season.
In light of this development, Hesperus has offered options for those who have already purchased passes. Season pass and value pass holders are eligible for a credit towards passes at the nearby Purgatory Resort. Value pass holders have the additional option of a direct exchange for a two-day pass at Purgatory. Those who have bought uphill skiing passes can either apply for a full refund or use the credit for Purgatory passes and lift tickets.
The closure of Hesperus Ski Area is a significant blow to the local ski enthusiasts and the Durango community, who cherished the ski area’s quaint and personal atmosphere. As winter approaches, the impact of this unexpected shutdown will likely be felt across the region’s winter sports landscape.