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Lutsen set to open for skiing Thursday; new gondola opening Dec. 11

The new $7 million Doppelmayr gondola at Lutsen Mountains ski area on the North Shore is slated to open Dec. 11, the ski area reported Tuesday. This view of the gondola is looking from Moose Mountain back toward the base area in the distance. A handful of ski runs at Lutsen are on track to open on Thanksgiving Day. (Photo courtesy of Lutsen Mountains)

Lutsen Mountains ski area on the North Shore is set to open for skiing on Thanksgiving Day — though skiers and snowboarders will need to wait just a bit longer to start using Lutsen’s new gondola.

The ski area is slated to have three runs and two lifts open on Ullr Mountain on Thursday, with an additional lift and two runs slated to open on Eagle Mountain this weekend, Lutsen Mountains marketing manager Jim Vick said in a news release Tuesday.

This ski season will mark the debut of the ski area’s new Doppelmayr gondola, which replaces the gondola Lutsen had been using for the past 25 years. A grand opening for the new gondola initially had been set for Friday, but that’s been rescheduled to Dec. 11.

Vick said that the new gondola “is working great, and passed all of its operations tests. Unfortunately, we have been unable to work on the loading platforms until the gondola installation crew was finished. The massive decks on top and bottom will not be ready for public access this weekend.”

The new $7 million gondola will carry eight people in each car, and up to 1,000 people per hour, to the top of Moose Mountain. That’s twice as many people per car as the old gondola, and more than three times the 300 people per hour the old gondola carried.

The new cars feature panoramic windows and barrier-free access.

In addition to Lutsen’s snowmaking efforts and the dusting of natural snow already on the ground, the region may see some more light snow — perhaps mixed with some freezing drizzle and light rain — today into Thursday. High temperatures are forecast to be in the 30s today, and in the 20s on Thanksgiving.

Elsewhere in the Northland, officials with Spirit Mountain Recreation Area in Duluth reported on the ski area’s website that they’re hoping to open a run for skiing and snowboarding over the long holiday weekend, but as of Tuesday that determination had not yet been made; check for updates at Spirit Mountain will be hosting the Amsoil Duluth National Snocross snowmobile racing event this weekend.

Mont du Lac Recreation near Superior and Giants Ridge near Biwabik each have set tentative opening dates of Dec. 5.

Lutsen gondola car sale

Lutsen Mountains plans to start selling the red cars from its old gondola at noon on Monday.

There will be 23 cars for sale, the ski area reported, priced at $1,200 each. On Dec. 7, the price of any remaining cars will drop to $1,000 apiece. On Dec. 14, the price on remaining cars will drop to $800 until they’re gone.

For more information on the sale, go to