The new year started with a long, cold night for a group of Sandia Peak employees. Late on New Year’s Eve, the resort’s aerial tramway stopped midway through a trip due to icing of cables from precipitation and high winds. Twenty passengers in cabin 2 and an attendant in cabin 1 were stuck until early this afternoon. The tram cars are not heated but rescuers were able to climb tower 2 and provide one of the cabins with food, water and emergency blankets. By 2:00 pm, a number of passengers had been lowered down from that cabin and taken off the mountain by helicopter.
The other cabin was not at a tower and the lone occupant took longer to rescue. “We are happy to report that at this time all people needing rescue from the Tram cars have been rescued and are safely at base,” the Bernalillo County Fire Department tweeted just before 4:00 pm. “We still have rescue personnel on the mountain who are hiking out due to difficulty in making access with the helicopter.” Much of the rescue operation was broadcast live on Facebook by the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.
The tram was built by Bell in 1965 and is the fourth longest ropeway in North America. It travels over extremely rugged terrain with no road access for most of its length. The system also stranded riders for a number of hours in August 2020 and dozens of people spent more than 24 hours on the tram in a 1973 mishap.
The ski area, tramway and restaurant announced will remain closed at least until Monday.