Bear Cubs Whoop It Up On Ladder At Ski Resort Gondola Tower

It might have seemed odd and even dangerous watching video of a trio of black bear cubs that climbed a massive gondola tower at Steamboat ski resort in northwest Colorado on Saturday, but the bears were just having fun.

Mark Heinz

April 23, 20243 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

As risky as it might have seemed, a trio of black bear cubs was probably just cutting loose and having some fun when they climbed up a ladder on a Colorado ski resort gondola tower Saturday.

“The cubs are so cute. They’re all different colors, and it was so cool to just sit and watch them play,” Sharon Spiegel of the Steamboat Resort Ski Patrol told Cowboy State Daily.

Spiegel watched as cubs and their mother, “who is huge,” had been hanging around the fringes of Steamboat as the ski season was winding down.

She and some colleagues sat and looked on from a distance Saturday as the cubs decided to start clambering up the ladder on the massive gondola tower, which was in a closed zone and not near any human activity.

Spiegel took video of the cubs’ antics.

Two of the clubs went up first, climbing up to a considerable height before easily making their way back down, she said. Then the third cub took a solo trip up and back down.

The cubs were just doing what young bears to do, Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Joey Livingston told Cowboy State Daily.

“It is very common for bears to climb all kinds of structures, including homes, decks, trees and ladders. This is why we always stress the importance of keeping food sources away from areas that bears can climb,” said Livingston, who has extensive field experience with bears.

For Fun, Or To Escape

Bear cubs love to explore their surroundings and try new things, Livingston said. But there’s a practical side to it. Mastering climbing is a good way to escape danger.

“One of a bear’s — especially a baby bear’s — first instincts when presented with a threat is to climb away from it,” he said. “Typically in the wild that means climbing a tree, but in areas with humans they will climb human structures as well.

“Baby bears are also known to be playful with their surroundings as they are growing and learning about the world. In the wild, that could mean chasing each other up trees and swatting at branches or rocks/leaves,” Livingston added. “In areas with humans they have even been known to swing in hammocks or jump around on trampolines.

“The behavior in the video is very typical of curious or frightened baby bears.”

The cubs were likely curious and playing, Spiegel said.

“The area where they were was out-of-bounds (for skiers and snowboarders), so nobody was close to them or bothering the bears,” she said.

Watch on YouTube

‘The Bears Can Have At It’

Colorado has a large population of black bears. However, Spiegel said they’re usually hibernating during the ski season, so it was a rare treat to observe the mother and her cubs.

“We’re used to seeing a lot of moose around here, but just not many bears,” Spiegel said.

The ski season has just wrapped up, and the slopes are shut down completely.

“We’re all finished around here and we’re closed down, so the bears can have at it,” she said.

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter