With the start of the summer season fast approaching, Kevin Sankey and Tim Allen were at the top of Howelsen Hill on Thursday afternoon May 19, working on the final bits to open The Howler Alpine Slide.
Sankey, facilities and events manager for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, said the state inspector will be in town May 27 and The Howler is scheduled to open for the season on June 4.
This will be the first time the slide has been open since the summer of 2020.
“We are delighted, and obviously with the (Outlaw) Mountain Coaster no longer in service at the Steamboat Resort, we expect demand to be even higher than it was a few years ago,” Sankey said. .
The slide opened in August 2000. It was closed last year as crews worked on the installation of the new Barrows chairlift – a triple chairlift that replaced the double chairlift at Howelsen Hill ski area, the most Colorado’s former ski area.
The $3 million cost of the lift was split between the city and the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Smartwool announced in October 2020 that the VF Foundation – the private grantmaking organization of VF Corp. – would make a charitable donation of $1.5 million to the Winter Sports Club to build the new elevator.
“They obviously had to install new towers for the chairlift, so we had to dismantle a significant portion of the track (from the alpine slide),” Sankey said. “Then we had to reinstall those sections of track where they needed to cut for the new lift towers. This has been a fairly large reassembly project, which we have just completed.
The timing is perfect for The Howler, which Sankey hopes will once again become a popular downtown attraction.
“We’re very excited to get started, especially after last year’s hiatus,” said Allen, director of The Howler Alpine Slide. “It’s really cool to drive around town and see the slide itself – and now that we’re going to have people going every 30 seconds, it’s going to be a cool thing to see just when you get to the center- town.”
Sankey said the Barrows chairlift will get people to the top of the hill faster than before, but people shouldn’t expect staff to run the lift full throttle.
“The uphill capacity of the lift is obviously much greater than the downhill capacity of this slide,” Sankey said. “If we loaded up every chair and got everyone into the elevator at normal winter speed, we’d have a big queue at the top waiting to get on.”
He said the plan is to load every third chair to take people to the top of Howelsen where they can descend back down the slide. This year, the lift will offer scenic rides for $12 (round trip) and uphill access for cyclists for $20.
“It’s a nice climb – it really is,” Sankey said. “We expect a lot more people to do the scenic walks, and the staff at Howelsen have done an amazing job cleaning up the area at the top, and it’s a great view.”
The cost to ride The Howler is $20 for a single adult and $17 for ages 13 and under or military. Children under 48 inches can ride with a paying adult for $10. Children under 2 years old are not allowed on the alpine slide for safety reasons.
Le Hurleur will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. the weekend of June 4 and 5. On June 8, the slide will switch to a Wednesday-Sunday schedule. On June 25, operations will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.