None of the 115 skiers and snowboarders riding the Sun Mountain Express at Bromley Mountain, Vermont were injured yesterday despite a serious wind-related incident. The Burlington Free Press reports a gust caused at least one empty chair to contact a communications line while the lift was moving. “The cable snagged a grip on an empty chair, derailing it and causing the lift to stop,” the paper wrote. It’s not clear from the article whether the snagged grip and chair remained on the haul rope. Bromley’s Assistant General Manager Michael van Eyck commented to the media, “a super high 20 or 25 second burst of wind” led to the accident. “The winds were not predicted to be that high,” he noted. A rope evacuation was initiated following the deropement, which took two and a third hours to complete.
The Sun Mountain Express is a mile-long detachable quad featuring torsion grips built in 1997. The Doppelmayr lift services the vast majority of Bromley’s terrain and remained closed the rest of Christmas Day and this morning. The mountain’s snow report currently reads: “the Sun Mountain Express will be on a delayed opening schedule today, while it undergoes some maintenance. Stay tuned for updates on its projected opening time, but our lift crew is working hard and should have it up and running by this afternoon.” Poor Bromley also lost its primary snowmaking pump house to fire just ten days ago. The family-focused ski area is owned by the Fairbank Group, which also operates Jiminy Peak, Massachusetts and Cranmore, New Hampshire.
Update: Two users on AlpineZone have posted photos of the aftermath. The chair that got hung up appears to be on the light side and remained on the rope.
Today’s update from Bromley:
“Unfortunately the Sun Mountain Express will likely still be down for most of the day, while we await the delivery of some parts. The parts are expected to arrive today and will be installed ASAP, so if all goes as planned the lift will be spinning and fully inspected by the end of today. In the mean time, we’ll be kicking it old school on the Blue Ribbon Quad for access to the summit.”
Looks to me like the chair swung so much that the grip lever fouled on the comline. I think the big question is how the grip was able to swing far enough to snag on the comline. The comline is mounted to the tops of the lifting frames for this lift’s entire length, so that chair must have swung and somehow moved closer to the comline to snag it.
Latest statement from Bromley:
“Winds on 12/25 were blowing at about 40mph, and lift ops was monitoring gusts. At about noon, we experienced an extremely strong burst of wind for 15 to 20 seconds. The gust caused both the messenger cable (runs up the middle of the lift towers, stringing them together) and the chairs at the summit to swing, and the cable snagged a portion of the grip on a downhill chair (the empty side). This caused the hull rope to shift to the inside and derail that one empty chair. Safety systems engaged immediately and stopped the lift. Patrol performed a full evacuation of the 115 passengers, and there were no injuries. It must be the angle of the photo that makes it seem like there are no other chairs on the line, as all chairs are still loaded. We’re currently awaiting parts to finish repairs, ETA this afternoon. Dopplemeyer put them on a plane from Salt Lake with a courier, and they’ll be driven directly from Albany when they land – great service. Hope this clears up any questions.”
Obviously not written by a lift person but I appreciate their outreach.
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