Arrests Made Following Stoppage of San Diego Zoo Gondola

A fault which stopped the San Diego Zoo Skyfari for two hours today was no accident, police say. A witness told the San Diego Union-Tribune four patrons were “swinging their gondola from side to side and knocked it off a rail or cable, forcing an automatic shutdown.” The San Diego Fire Department responded just after 2:00 pm but no evacuation was needed and approximately 100 passengers were safely offloaded under the lift’s own power. “Some patrons may need medical evaluation,” the department said in a 4:30 pm tweet. The San Diego Police Department later said it arrested four men, ages 20 to 24, on suspicion of felony vandalism.

The Skyfari is a VonRoll Type 101 gondola built in 1969. Its 28 four passenger cabins circulate between two stations at either end of the zoo.

News Roundup: Ramping Up

Lift Rollback Causes Injuries, Damage in South Korea

Authorities in South Korea say a rollback at the Bears Town ski resort involved approximately 100 people. The mountain’s base-to-summit detachable quad went backward at approximately 3:00 pm today and at least 20 chairs stacked together in the bottom terminal. Some riders jumped or fell from the lift while others were pinned in the station. At one point, video of the incident shows guests grabbing on to chairs in an attempt to stop the lift. Police say numerous skiers jumped or fell while firefighters rope evacuated others after the ropeway stopped. At least one child was taken to the hospital.

Rollbacks of modern lifts are exceedingly rare and a detachable lift rollback is even more unusual. The quad where the incident occurred is called Challenge and appears to have been built by Poma some time around the early 1990s.

Bears Town opened in 1985 and is situated just 45 minutes from the South Korean capital of Seoul. “Our sincere apologies to the customers and their families who were affected by this accident,” the resort said in a statement. “Bears Town plans to immediately suspend all lift operations in the ski resort in addition to the lift that caused an accident, and to begin an immediate safety inspection,” the statement continued. “We will actively cooperate with the fire authorities and related agencies and take measures to prevent reoccurrence. Currently all employees in Bears Town are focused on rescue work and customer communication with the victims as a priority.”

News Roundup: Letters from the Top

Six Pack Coming to Holiday Valley

Holiday Valley Resort in Western New York plans to debut its first six place chairlift in 2023. The Doppelmayr detachable will be built over two years and replace the Mardi Gras Xpress, pictured above. The new flagship will transport up to 3,000 riders per hour, increasing the resort’s total uphill capacity to 25,650 people hourly.

“The Holiday Valley lift system has been recognized by our guests as one of the best in the East,” said Holiday Valley President and General Manager Dennis Eshbaugh announcing the new lift. “The Yodeler Quad Express lift built in 2021 raised the bar. The Mardi Gras 6-pack will give skiers and snowboarders an exciting new experience, with quicker access to the top of the mountain.” The project will be completed in two stages, starting with foundations for 11 new lift towers in summer 2022. The balance of construction will be completed in 2023.

Sterling Vineyards to Debut New Gondola in 2023

The one-of-a-kind gondola at a California winery will not run again, Sterling Vineyards has announced. The 1972 Hall installation, which travels in a triangle alignment, was closed in 2020 due to Covid and subsequently damaged by a wildfire. In its place, Sterling and Doppelmayr USA will partner to construct a detachable eight place gondola running in a similar historic alignment. “Over the past twelve months, our team has been working diligently to safely assess and stabilize the property and fully scope this major project,” the company wrote. “We are excited to share that we are now moving into reconstructing the winery in preparation of a re-opening in Spring 2023.”

“After careful assessment, it was determined that our beloved and historic Aerial Tram must be replaced,” the statement continued. “The Aerial Tram has been, and will continue to be, central to our visitor experience, as well as an iconic feature of the winery. We anticipate a full year of hard work ahead of us, to bring this special property back to you safely and beautifully.”

The new lift will be as modern as the old one was quaint, becoming the first D-Line lift in California and featuring Omega V cabins from CWA. The one way journey will remain similar with three stations and drive/tensioning systems located at the valley station. There will of course still be a glass of wine waiting for each rider at the first angle station. “We welcome you to join us behind the scenes as we give you sneak peeks through photos and videos of the site during construction and watch Sterling Vineyards literally rise from the ashes, regaining its historic splendor, and bouncing back to once again be one of the most visited sites in the Napa Valley.”

News Roundup: Consolidation

Cascade Mountain to Add New Quad

Popular Wisconsin destination Cascade Mountain will replace its Mogul Monster triple this summer with a brand new Leitner-Poma quad. The outgoing lift is a 1987 Borvig utilizing towers from the mountain’s original chairlift first opened 60 years ago today.

“This offseason, we’ll be replacing our current Mogul Monster triple passenger lift with a brand-new fixed grip quadruple passenger chairlift,” Cascade Mountain said in an anniversary announcement. “Looking a lot like our B-Dub lift, this quad will help us improve our uphill capacity and clear up a little more congestion in the base area compared to the current Mogul Monster Lift. We’d like to thank both our customer base and staff for your continued support over the last 60 years and to the next 60+ to come!”