Gondola Riders Injured in Incident at Mont-Sainte-Anne

Photo credit: CBC Radio Canada

Nearly two dozen passengers suffered injuries this morning when a gondola lift came to an abrupt stop at Mont-Sainte-Anne, a large resort near Quebec City.  The incident occurred just before 10:00 am and cabins stopped suddenly enough that skis and snowboards fell from exterior racks.  At least one cabin became lodged at an angle in a station with a broken window.  Other cabins reportedly contacted towers.  Out of the 21 people injured, 12 were transported to hospitals by ambulance.

By around 10:45, the gondola was restarted in reverse to unload riders.  The rescue operation was completed by noon and the lift is now closed.  A spokesperson for Mont-Sainte-Anne said there were 80 cabins on the line today and an investigation will be undertaken.  “Our main objective is to make sure that everyone is taken care of quickly, then, afterwards, we will have more details on the mechanical aspects,” said Simon Lefebvre with the ski resort.

The gondola, known as L’Étoile Filante, was constructed by Doppelmayr and opened in 1989.  It is the largest of seven lifts at Sainte-Anne, a mountain owned by Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.  Calgary-based RCR operates a total of six ski resorts in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec.

Photo credit: CBC Radio Canada

Later in the day, officials announced the mountain would close early due to the incident and investigation.  The gondola will not return to operation any time this weekend.

An evening press release acknowledged a “sudden, unsolicited stop” which caused the cabins to swing.  “Our maintenance teams are mobilized, as well as the ski lift manufacturer and several specialized subcontractors, in order to work in collaboration with the regulatory authorities to determine the cause of this sudden stop,” read the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies statement.

On Saturday afternoon, Mont-Sainte-Anne Vice President and General Manager Maxime Cretin issued the following update:

We would like to highlight the exemplary work of the first responders, as well as to thank all those who contributed to the response to yesterday morning’s incident at the cable car. We have a warm and sincere thoughts for all passengers on board during this incident, and we wish our injured customers a speedy recovery.

The teams of Mont-Sainte-Anne and the mechanical lift manufacturer, as well as specialized contractors, have been carrying out a complete inspection of the lift since yesterday afternoon to determine the cause of the sudden unexpected stop. We take this incident very seriously and we are determined to highlight what caused it.


29 thoughts on “Gondola Riders Injured in Incident at Mont-Sainte-Anne

  1. Kevin Ratcliffe1 February 21, 2020 / 2:42 pm



  2. Brian February 21, 2020 / 5:44 pm

    Anyone speak french? Having trouble wrapping my head around what happened here. Why the nearly instantaneous violent stop?


  3. Skiz February 21, 2020 / 6:07 pm

    Did the cable get stuck in something?


  4. Thomas Jett February 21, 2020 / 6:49 pm

    Well, it’s a good thing that I didn’t elect to go along on my school’s annual Quebec trip this year.


  5. Kirk February 21, 2020 / 7:49 pm

    This looks like a pretty big lift !! If it has a large downhill capacity it probably has the following brakes.
    2- Service brakes
    2- Drive sheave emergency brakes
    1- Rollback brake

    Typically on this vintage of lift, if there is a loss of control power all the brakes are applied at the same time. This can cause a pretty violent stop with a full uphill load especially if the brakes are adjusted a little tight. Usually this condition is tested during the initial acceptance test.

    Another situation that can cause a violent stop is a malfunction of the DC Drive. An Inversion fault can cause the DC motor to try to lock up. This can occur if the lift is decelerating in regenerative mode and there is a dip or loss of the AC power.

    If something locked up mechanically they probably couldn’t have backed it up??


  6. Jean DC February 21, 2020 / 8:27 pm

    The articles and tweets don’t say why it sudently stopped. They don’t know at this point.


  7. Kirk February 21, 2020 / 8:51 pm

    Of course they know why it stopped there just not saying why.


    • Rob Withey February 22, 2020 / 10:24 pm

      They know what happened. It may take time to know the why. It’s also possible they may never know exactly what caused it.


      • Kirk February 23, 2020 / 7:49 am

        I am sure Doppelmayr will figure out the cause, repair and or upgrade to prevent re-occurrence. If not the lift should never run again.


        • Rob Withey February 25, 2020 / 2:15 am

          If that is your standard, all lifts everywhere should be shut down. They all have odd occurrences that no one ever figures out.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Donald Reif March 4, 2020 / 12:43 pm

          The cabin windows just need to be replaced, and maybe the contours too. For the time being, people can use the South Express and La Tortue to get up to the summit.


  8. Peter Landsman February 22, 2020 / 6:58 am

    Some of the comments on Facebook are quite remarkable. This one in particular:

    Luc Lawrence
    “Good morning everyone, I’m the person that was thrown out of the cabin. If it wasn’t for my wife and a guy holding my feet, I would have fallen. For all the people who comment without knowing, take 2 min to just understand our nightmare. I would like to say a big thank you to the rescue team for doing a good job. I’m looking for Jacques Hardy and François Bélanger to say thank you for helping me get back in the cabin.”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Meir K. February 22, 2020 / 7:17 am

    6 person Omega I cabins?


  10. Peter Landsman February 23, 2020 / 7:42 pm

    Remontees-mecaniques user Genius2_2 was on the lift at the time and provides another first person account:

    “I was there during the accident. I was in a cabin leaving the station when the emergency stop occurred. Our cabin was at full speed because close to engaging on the cable. Obviously, we were not shaken given the position of our cabin but it moved forward and back several times before the complete stop. I did not see the cabins on the line being shaken because I was sitting with my back to the mountain.

    At the time, the operator did not seem aware of the seriousness of the situation, believing that he was facing a simple routine emergency stop.

    My father was in a cabin at pylon # 5 when the lift stopped. There were 5 of them in this cabin with friends. We received a call a few minutes after the stop. He told us that their cabin had lost a window following an impact following the stop. Indeed, during the stop, there was a very strong rocking of all the cabins, so strong that it went to touch the pulley train of the pylon.

    Some cabins have lost one or two windows. Several pairs of skis fell into the track under the lift.”

    “photo corresponds to the cabin where my father was. We do not see the missing window because it is the one on the side. If we look closely at this photo, the left attachment of the cabin has bent under the force of the impact.”

    “shows another cabin having lost its front window. We even see the trace of the impact on the cabin at the top of the window opening.”

    “shows this window on the ground.”



  11. Sébastien Simard March 1, 2020 / 12:11 pm

    The gondolas reopens today, March 1st 2020.

    Here a translation of the press release yesterday:

    « Representatives of Mont-Sainte-Anne announce that the gondola station will be operational as of 1 st March 2020.”Careful inspections and tests have been carried out, under the guidance of expertsof the manufacturer and the supervision of the authorities concerned, on all components of the gondola. The compliance, proper functioning and security of theski lift have been confirmed. The Régie du bâtiment du Québec therefore gavegreen light for reopening, “said Maxime Cretin, Vice-President andgeneral manager of Mont Sainte-Anne.The inspection concluded that the accident was not caused by a breakage of equipment, human intervention or operational error, but by a independent, external and unpredictable event. The source of the event comesof a voltage variation on the power supply upstream of the station which has generated an engine deceleration and an abnormal oscillation of the cable.The emergency brake was activated as expected, stopping the gondola.The gondola in question complies with all safety criteria and all laws and regulations in force. It is, moreover, the first time that such an event has occurred. Mont-Sainte-Anne is deeply committed to delivering the highest standards ofsecurity, and to continually invest in its ski lifts.”We are aware that this accident was trying for the people who were at on the cable cars, as well as a concern for our customers and our employees. We have taken and are still taking this situation very seriously. Rest assured that wehave taken all the necessary measures and worked with the best experts to determine the source of the accident and respond appropriately, ”adds Cretin. Everyone in the gondola was quickly picked upcharge by the team of first responders from Mont-Sainte-Anne, as well as the services emergency. Customer service contacted each passenger to verifytheir condition and provide them with resources when needed. »


    • Belen December 13, 2022 / 10:19 am

      Could you post the link to this, please?


  12. Kirk March 4, 2020 / 7:58 am

    Sounds like the AC line voltage variation caused the DC Drive to malfunction????
    The emergency stop in it’s self shouldn’t cause that kind of abrupt stop.
    Would be nice to get a few more details???


    • pbropetech March 4, 2020 / 12:30 pm

      If the drive is being fed varying voltages from the grid it can surge or lag. Most likely the lift was already bouncing from that when the drive safeties kicked in, which dropped the brakes and compounded the swinging. Wild guess based on experience.


      • Kirk March 4, 2020 / 12:51 pm

        Yeah depending the age of the Drive, analog or digital. Guess some line reaction could have occured before the Drive safeties caught it??
        If the lift was decelling at the time I suppose a dip in the AC line voltage could have caused an inversion fault???


  13. Kirk March 13, 2020 / 1:08 pm

    Sounds like they crashed it again today 3/13 ???


      • Kirk March 13, 2020 / 4:59 pm

        No saw it on news feed today.


      • Larry March 14, 2020 / 11:43 am

        We were at MSA during the 2nd incident. The heavy rains the day before and the freeze up overnite resulted in less than ideal ski conditions at MSA so there were not too many people on the hill. There were 32 people on the gondola at the time. The cause — same as the first incident. Several threads on the their Facebook page .


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