Skiers stranded on lift at night
April 3, 2005
Hard to believe - but it is possible even at our local areas. That's why ski patrollers do a complete check and often ride the last chair up on some lifts when possible. For example, I am aware of a couple of incidents in years past were patrollers have spotted folks on stopped chairs at or around closing time and made sure the lifts were restarted and the people got off. It gets awfully dark at night and but for the checks in place, people can get missed!
I was at Whistler a few years back and almost had the same situation. We downloaded on the Wizard chair (I think that was the name) on Blackcomb. The chair was running and there was nothing that closed the lift from loading (like a simple closed sign).
About halfway down, the chair stops. Luckily it stopped over a trail crossing. If we had gone another 100 feet, we would have been in the middle of the trees.
A couple of boarders spotted us and went down to get the chair turned back on. As we got closer to the bottom, the lift op turned the chair off again (at this point tormenting us on purpose). Overall, we only spent about 45 minutes on the chair.
However, the ski patrol drove by in snowmobiles but never looked up at the chairs. That was a little scary.
This happened in Big Sky three years ago when I was there. Two women. Figure by now they own one of the big condos on the mountain as a prize for the lawsuit...
I ALWAYS carry a cell phone as well as a whistle in my ditty pack. I guess I should also start carrying a bullhorn... One never knows. And to say it may not happen in the East may not take into account many factors which could tend to allow this to occur...
I noticed precautions Wisp was taking this past weekend to prevent something of that nature from happening. Over at the Chair 2, 3 lifts, only Chair #3 was running and they were closing down Chair #2 and had the lift down to 50% of it's regular speed and as each chair went by they flipped up the bottom until the last chair came around. I know some chairs don't have that capability, but it was nice to see Wisp doing something (which I've seen now on 2 occassions) that would prevent people getting stuck on chairs.
That's an excellent method, Bruce. I've often wondered what it would be like to get stuck on the lift. As much as some of us have a disdain for what seem like over-zealous safety precautions, most of them are good ideas.
I've often wondered how long I'd wait before strapping-in and taking the plunge.
I was stopped on Widowmaker at 'Shoe for a considerable bit last Friday only about 10 feet above the moderately steep slope... but by the time I got strapped-in the lift was starting up again.