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Opening Day Lift Malfunction at Tussey Mountain 1
Author thumbnail By M. Scott Smith, DCSki Editor

On December 16, 2017, skiers and riders underwent a chairlift evacuation at Pennsylvania’s Tussey Mountain after several chairs slid from the haul rope and crashed into each other. Several skiers were transported to a local hospital with non-lift threatening injuries as a result of the accident. Tussey Mountain has temporarily closed its ski operations while an investigation is underway.

Tussey Mountain released the following statement:

According to Tussey Mountain, the malfunctioning chairlift had been previously tested and given a passing grade by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Occupational and Industrial Safety Elevator Division.

“We have begun taking the necessary steps to ensure a situation like this will never happen again,” the ski area said in a statement.

Tussey Mountain is in the process of contacting the lift manufacturer to diagnose what caused the malfunction, and will work with appropriate state agencies to ensure the lift’s safety prior to re-opening.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this caused to all of our skiers and snowboarders and want to thank everyone for their patience, understanding, and support,” a representative from Tussey Mountain said.

According to social media pictures posted by guests at Tussey Mountain, the lift that malfunctioned was the Quad Chairlift, the only quad chairlift at the central Pennsylvania ski area. The Quad Chairlift is a fixed-grip chairlift, with each chair mounted permanently at specific distances along the steel haul rope. It’s not clear what would have caused multiple chairs to slip from the haul rope, and as of press time DCSki had not determined the manufacturer or installation date of this chairlift.

This is not the first chairlift accident in the Mid-Atlantic region. On February 20, 2016, a mechanical malfunction at West Virginia’s Timberline Resort injured several skiers after a cross-arm on one of the lift towers separated from the tower and landed on the ground. That lift tower re-opened later in the season after an investigation and repairs were made.

The chairlift infrastructure at ski areas across the country continues to age, however the National Ski Areas Association indicates that chairlift accidents are rare thanks to significant inspection and maintenance procedures followed by ski resorts.

“Riding a chairlift or gondola while skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, or even just sightseeing, is an exceptionally safe and secure mode of transportation,” the National Ski Areas Association reports.

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About M. Scott Smith

M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.

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Reader Comments

oldensign - DCSki Columnist
December 21, 2017
Member since 02/27/2007 🔗
499 posts

Yes, I read that the bolts that hold the chairs to the haul line were not as tight as they neded to be. Thus they slid into one another when under load on the steep part of the lift line. Must of been a scary expereince.

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