A truly bizarre incident came to light tonight when Sunday River revealed the top terminal of its Spruce Peak Triple chairlift slid downhill and flipped on its side over the weekend. Scott Crowell, the resort’s lift maintenance manager discovered the damage on Sunday. From the pictures, it appears the foundation and return bullwheel moved together, with the tension of the lift and gravity sending the line to the ground. Thankfully, the lift does not operate in the summer and no one was injured.
According to Weather Underground, Bethel, Maine received nearly an inch of rain in the four days leading up to the discovery of the damage. Sunday River said the lift in question was last load tested in Fall 2015.
Spruce Peak is one of two Borvig triples remaining at Sunday River and its second oldest lift, built in 1986. Chairkit added a loading carpet at the bottom station in 2014. Spruce is 4,382 feet long and rises 1,211 feet with 17 towers and 177 chairs. In a statement, Sunday River noted, “Decisions on repairing or replacing the lift have not been made at this point and will depend on several factors, including the results of the investigation. The resort is committed to moving forward as quickly as possible.” The mountain is working with its insurance company, Willis MountainGuard, and state investigators. Presumably there is still time to get a brand new lift built in time for the coming 2016-2017 winter season if the order is placed soon. Alternatively, a lift manufacturer could come in and replace just the top terminal and any damaged chairs.
Boyne Resorts’ two mountains in Maine have seen more than their fair share of lift setbacks over the last decade. In July of 2007, also at Sunday River, the ground underneath the bottom terminal of the Little White Cap quad washed out but spared the terminal from completely collapsing. A Borvig lift at Sugarloaf de-roped injuring guests in December 2010 and another rolled back in March 2015. One of those chairlifts was completely replaced while the other received a new drive terminal. For more pictures of Spruce Peak before this incident, click here.