Cabin Falls from Mont-Sainte-Anne Gondola

Photo credit: Jean-Francois Racine

For the third time in three years the gondola L’Étoile Filante at Mont-Sainte-Anne is shuttered due to an incident. This time no one was injured when an empty down bound cabin detached and fell from the haul rope before the mountain opened for the day. A tower safety system stopped the lift automatically and workers arrived to find the cabin on the ground. The mountain has been closed for at least the weekend while the incident is investigated.

“We continue to verify the entire lift and secure the site, read a statement from the resort. “A full inspection procedure was initiated to verify and validate the causes of the event. The teams of the lift manufacturer as well as the competent authorities were called upon to assist our teams in the inspection of the gondola.”

Mont-Sainte-Anne owner Resorts of the Canadian Rockies noted what happened today is not related to a February 2020 incident which sent a dozen people to the hospital or a March 2020 one which injured another person. The gondola was closed for a year after those accidents and underwent $1.5 million in upgrades before reopening in March 2021. Still, the Doppelmayr-built system is 33 years old and RCR has received criticism for lack of investment across its six ski areas. Mont-Sainte-Anne’s lift fleet averages 35 years old with three detachables dating back to the 1980s. Earlier this year, the well-capitalized Groupe Le Massif offered to buy Resorts of the Canadian Rockies’ two eastern resorts, an offer which RCR declined.

For now Mont-Sainte-Anne passholders can ski at nearby sister resort Stoneham. Mont-Sainte-Anne plans to shift snowmaking efforts to the south side of the mountain not serviced by the gondola and will update guests when it can reopen.

65 thoughts on “Cabin Falls from Mont-Sainte-Anne Gondola

  1. Philip Keeve December 10, 2022 / 7:07 pm

    Time to change out the detachable technology on this thing. Three serious incidents is three too many.

    Like

    • Aussierob December 10, 2022 / 7:29 pm

      The two previous incidents were the drive, not the line. Wondering if wind was high that day? It is a usual suspect when a cabin comes off at a tower mid line.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sébastien Simard December 10, 2022 / 11:44 pm

        The Quebec city official weather station (located at city airport, about 50 km away from the station) report gust wind about 45 km/h (about 28 mph) from ENE, at 9h am.

        The wind seems to be lower at 8h am : 10 km/h (about 6 mph).

        This lift is facing south east, so a northeast wind could directly impact the lift, but the wind doesn’t seem to be very high…

        Like

    • Truth You December 13, 2022 / 1:25 pm

      That looks like a tree branch stuck in the rollers.

      Like

    • frank December 28, 2022 / 7:32 am

      Agree. We drove up from Connecticut for a change of scenery. Why is the entire mountain closed, though?

      Like

      • Kirk December 28, 2022 / 8:37 am

        Reading the report from the authorities makes it sound like there are questions about operating procedures, lift maintenance training and possibly mechanical issues through out the whole ski area??

        Like

  2. Codyrain December 10, 2022 / 9:07 pm

    Regardless, three accidents is bad publicity if anyone cares about safety issues.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anthony December 10, 2022 / 9:11 pm

    This isn’t really germane to this incident, but when was RCR’s most recent lift install?

    It seems like they have a lot of older detaches, and some of their infrastructure is getting a little bit long in the tooth. Websites and digital infrastructure too…they sometimes seems like a shoestring operation.

    Like

    • Sébastien Simard December 10, 2022 / 11:28 pm

      The most recent lift installed at Mont Ste-Anne is the “Panorama Express”, a new Doppelmayr detachable-quad in 2013.

      At Stoneham, the most recent is “L’Éclipse”, a new Doppelmayr fixed-quad in 2017.

      All others lift at both station cames from late 1980s.

      Like

    • Ty December 11, 2022 / 2:44 pm

      Vail may not be perfect, but when you compare Vail to RCR, you realize that Vail is at least trying and spending the necessary funds on resort upgrades and maintenance, unlike RCR, that is just milking their resorts dry and hindering if not damaging the experiences in nearly every resort they own, hoping that Vail or Alterra will buy the resorts when their lift and facility infrastructure forces most of these resorts to shut down in the next 10-20 years. Im not a huge fan of Tremblant for a variety of reasons, but when you ski at Alterra owned Tremblant, vs RCR owned Mont Saint Anne, its painfully obvious how dilapidated these east coast RCR resorts are, compared to a well funded, and continually improving experience at Tremblant. Hopefully Vail, Alterra, or in a perfect situation, Boyne Resorts buys RCR, and rejuvenates these dilapidated resorts.

      Like

  4. Doug December 10, 2022 / 9:34 pm

    I only know out West, but hey seem to spend money upgrading old lifts, not replacing them. Timber Bowl at Fernie had a big rebuild a couple of years ago and Kimberly’s lift was fixed this past year when maybe a replacement was a better idea. Maybe last new I know of out west is Poler Peak at Fernie? At Nakiska the lifts are all quite long on the tooth.

    Like

    • David Phillips December 11, 2022 / 7:30 pm

      The Polar Peak chair at Fernie wasn’t even a new lift. It is the 30+ year old Gold chair from Nakiska, moved to Fernie. RCR spends as little as possible st its resorts, and it shows.

      Like

      • JRS December 12, 2022 / 8:53 pm

        The ride up on the Polar Peak chair lift is more frightening than actually skiing it! That’s saying something! Terrifyingly old tech….

        Like

        • Bob December 14, 2022 / 2:07 pm

          Of all the lifts at RCR, which would you say is the most dangerous?

          Like

    • Donald Reif December 11, 2022 / 8:29 pm

      With Kimberly, their hands were kinda tied because of the matter being “we had to fix a lift that was damaged by an arsonist”.

      Like

      • Doug December 11, 2022 / 9:04 pm

        Maybe fixing it was the only option, but Northstar is aging and what I was suggesting is that maybe it would have been better to take a payout and replace it.

        Like

  5. Tom Snaphook December 10, 2022 / 10:25 pm

    The comments all seem to be rather casual. This is inexcusable. It is serious and the owners should be fined and monitored very closely on the future.

    Like

    • Skier December 10, 2022 / 11:57 pm

      If anyone was downloading in that cabin it could have easily ended up with fatalities like the Whistler Quicksilver accident. This gondola should be replaced.

      Like

      • Kirk December 14, 2022 / 6:04 pm

        I know of several Doppelmayr DS grips that have come out of accelerators not properly closed and the lift typically stops. Assuming all the grip switches are in place and properly adjusted. Now if the lift is reset and re-started that’s a different story. We have seen this before with a chair laying on the snow.

        Like

      • JPL December 14, 2022 / 6:52 pm

        Yan grips had design flaws. The Doppelmayr DS grip has been around for years and has seen much less issues. By this, I’m not saying it was not implicated in any incident.

        Like

    • Ryan December 11, 2022 / 4:23 am

      Probably not wise to jump to conclusions yet and start demanding owners be fined and blah blah blah. Let the investigation happen first.

      Liked by 6 people

      • Suzanne December 12, 2022 / 11:35 am

        I agree that investigation needs to happen first, but this is 3rd major incident for the same gondola in 3 years period. Owners were asked to replace gondola for a while, or to sell the operation rights to another opeator which both they refused. But you know what they didn’t fail to do, is to increase their prices by 30% in the last year, also to say that they invested 1.5M in repairs. We are now at the state that gondola is probably going to be closed for the rest of the season, with only panorama being operational, but to get to the top you need to take another ski lift that is not working at the moment, so lots of season ticket holders are asking for the refunds.

        Their customer service regarding this entire incident was horrible from the start. I brought my kids for the training and we were told that gondola will open with the slight delay as it was windy so they are inspecting it at the moment. At the same time some people received pictures of the fallen gondola and when we called customer service we were told it was a montage. RCR was seriously considering of sending kids up the broken gondola, and was trying to avoid bed press. Imagine if the kids were there?

        Once again I do agree with you that investigation needs to be done, and if they find the operatior responsible, then actions have to be taken to mend the situation, including a demand for changing all the lifts if they still want to conitnue to operate the mountain. One would say that annual revenue of 29M warrents the infrastructure investments more than once every 40 years per lift.

        Like

        • Cevin December 12, 2022 / 5:07 pm

          Very well expressed! Thanks for your comment.

          Like

        • JPL December 14, 2022 / 6:49 pm

          The crisis management is clearly not on point. Customer service and operation team were not communicating. Somebody thought of a defense and that’s the one that came out. It’s not good. But thinking that the MSA team (RCR is in Calgary) would have sent people up the gondola after one a fall of a cabin from the line, that is exagerated. They would not…

          Like

  6. Sébastien Simard December 11, 2022 / 12:33 am

    So what was the contributing factors?
    1) lack of maintenance? If it’s the case, Quebec regulation (but probably apply for all North America) about ski lift are not severe enough

    2) manufacturer (Doppelmayr) oversight? Maybe not enough data are available for how detachable lift aging? Maybe the manufacturer must impose all sheeves change for new ones or update detachable grip after xxx hours of operations?

    Maybe this kind of technology needs expiration date? Because if we wait after ski station operator, in some case (like RCR) only the minimum is done and is clearly not enought!

    Like

    • ryand1407 December 12, 2022 / 7:58 pm

      Expiration dates and better standards are definitely needed. This isn’t an issue at big well run resorts because even if a lift is aging they can;

      1. Keep up on maintenance and logs well enough to shut something down seasons beforehand. Ie “this cabin has a bad grip, even if it’s not in our budget now we’ll just stow it”

      2. Actually have the budget and expertise to repair small problems in the moment preventing bigger more visible ones

      Or 3. Give up on hiring, on maintenance and just throw money at the problem and buy a new lift or pay a manufacturer for a true re-build.

      RCR isn’t doing any of that. If Nakiska was Vail/Alterra/Boyne owned it wouldn’t have critical lifts with chain drives from the 80’s. Fernie would have a modern lift system. Kimberly would probably have a HSS bubble as a main lift and a 2nd needed high speed lift on the backside.

      Not to even mention the needed east coast resort upgrades. Not to be world class, but to be viable. It sucks cuz RCR has some of the better terrain in the area, but good lord do they blow it.

      Like

  7. Andy Estrada December 11, 2022 / 3:06 am

    Yikes!

    Like

  8. Kirk December 11, 2022 / 6:29 am

    Something is defiantly wrong with the lift, maintenance and operation when there is a major malfunction every year or so with the lift shut down for an investigation ??? Can’t remember, is this 3 or 4 major malfunctions in the last few years ???

    Like

  9. Cevin December 11, 2022 / 7:25 am

    Can someone please explain what would be required to go wrong for a cabin to fall from the rope? It seems that the whole thing is designed to prevent this.

    Like

    • ShangRei Garrett December 11, 2022 / 8:25 am

      I’ve definitely heard of carriers detaching after swinging and hitting a tower, but other than that, I’m not sure how a cabin could fall

      Like

  10. afski722 December 11, 2022 / 9:24 am

    Based on the impact damage on the side sitting up of the cabin, it almost appears as if it impacted a lift tower.

    The resulting force / impact may have either opened the grip or caused the grip to fail and them for the cabin to drop to the ground.

    Like

    • Cevin December 11, 2022 / 10:38 am

      Yes, good observation…the part facing up looks really pushed in. Is it possible for the cabin to have swung so much that it it the tower? Or could that be damage from the fall? The hill is really steep in that area, so the cabin could have fallen and then flipped over.

      Like

      • Michael December 11, 2022 / 11:18 am

        You’re assuming too much. The damage could have come from vertical fall impact, the cabin could have rolled multiple times before coming to rest, etc. etc.

        Like

        • Cevin December 11, 2022 / 11:40 am

          Not assuming anything. As I said, it could be from the fall. Not sure how the forward facing side would hit the tower, as compared to the inside face.

          Like

        • Michael December 12, 2022 / 9:32 am

          Sorry Cevin, I was responding to AFSKI722.

          Like

      • Bob December 12, 2022 / 9:20 am

        If this is what happened (not trying to make assumptions, but it is a possibility) it sounds scarily similar to the Yan quicksilver incident.

        Like

        • Scot December 13, 2022 / 5:00 am

          The Quicksilver grips were partially dependent on gravity to maintain gripping force and lost their grip while bouncing after a quick stop. The M-SA grips use springs that aren’t dependent on gravity for gripping force. All we know is a tower fault stopped the lift and the cabin was found nearby on the ground.

          Like

    • Darren M Westleigh December 13, 2022 / 1:11 pm

      Most likely either collision with tower, or high gust of wind spinning it in a figure 8 (highly unlikely) but possible, causing grip to be upside down and backwards. Also the grip could have slid and got triggered possibly when colliding with the next grip on the line

      Like

  11. Kirk December 11, 2022 / 3:13 pm

    It certainly wouldn’t be the first detachable grip to launch out of the exit side accelerator not properly closed on the haulrope??

    Like

  12. Kevin R December 11, 2022 / 5:15 pm

    D

    Does anyone know what towe the gondola came offat

    Like

  13. Ryan Murphy December 11, 2022 / 8:34 pm

    Obviously we don’t have enough information this time, but where there is smoke there is fire. 3 severe issues in a short time span indicates a problem, whether that relates to something specific to this lift, RCR, or something else.

    Like

  14. Matthew December 12, 2022 / 8:23 am

    If you look, there is damage on the backside of the cabin, the cabin might have rolled after impact on the ground.

    Like

  15. dbuddphoto December 12, 2022 / 4:48 pm

    In the early 1980’s, I was riding the previous incarnation of this gondola (a Mueller, I believe). One half a compression sheave train on the light side had derailed and was hanging below the line. We watched as at least 10-15 cabins hit the dangling train at full speed, sending them for a pretty good swing, but missing the tower. The lift finally came to a stop when we were about 4-5 towers past the derailed tower, so someone ahead of us must have told them at the top. Instead of evacuation, a mechanic climbed the tower and helped the cabins past the tower at very slow speed. Took at least two and a half hours to reach the top.

    Like

    • Matthew December 13, 2022 / 5:31 am

      That must have been fun to hear the cabins hitting the sheave train

      Like

      • dbuddphoto December 13, 2022 / 2:09 pm

        It was loud. Very, very, loud.

        Like

  16. David Ihde December 13, 2022 / 4:50 pm

    Snowbird’s Tram is 50 years old without incident. What’s these guys problem?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Controversial Takes December 13, 2022 / 5:41 pm

      1: Trams are far simpler machines than detachable gondolas and have far less failure points and moving parts
      2: Snowbird did a complete overhaul of all of the mechanical and moving equipment a few years ago, and have done nearly a half dozen major maintenance overhauls throughout its lifespan
      3: Utah ski lift regulation is far more stringent and strict than Quebec, also having far lower government corruption in Utah than Quebec
      4: Snowbird cares and respects the safety of its customers, unlike RCR, and invests the capital to ensure Snowbird continues to be a great resort
      5: Doppelmayr pretty much begged Mont Saint Anne to replace the gondola, after the last two mechanical failures on the gondola, for these exact safety issues, and RCR ignored their advice

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cevin December 13, 2022 / 6:03 pm

        Hi, I’m curious as to what you mean by your last point. What do you mean about doppelmayr begging MSA?

        Like

        • LH December 13, 2022 / 6:18 pm

          Doppelmayr’s reputation for safety rides on its ropeways, and it seems like detachable technology doesn’t age as well as fixed grip. With this many incidents, I would never ride this lift again despite assurances from the mountain or authorities. I would be surprised if this iteration spins again without replacement of most components or in its entirety.

          If Doppelmayr won’t participate in another band-aid repair of this lift, could it still be approved by authorities to operate?

          Like

        • Controversial Takes December 13, 2022 / 6:24 pm

          Begging was probably the wrong word, they highly advised they replace the gondola after each one of these 3 incidents. So Doppelmayr wasn’t on their knees begging, but were def sounding the alarms to RCR that their repair plan was a disaster waiting to happen, as well damaging Doppelmayrs reputation.plaques from the lift

          Like

        • Ty December 13, 2022 / 6:32 pm

          I also highly doubt Doppelmayr will repair this lift at this point, or frankly any other lift manufacturer, who I would imagine, would rather not tarnish their brands reputation, by repairing this lift as cheaply as possible, like Mont Saint Anne has made Doppelmayr do 3 times now. As ive said, RCR are by far the worst ski resorts operators in North America, if not the world. Ive seen videos of lifts in Kazakstan that look better maintained than half the lifts of RCR resorts lifts

          Like

      • JPL December 14, 2022 / 5:36 pm

        Doppelmayr has participated in the first 2 incident and are now as well with other firms. They will not loose their name for one resort. If there was major concerns about the lift, they would have refused to work on it. They also provide maintenance on older lifts than this one. Stoneham is able to maintain their lifts safe and in good shape and improve the resort in general, so why wouldn’t MSA be able to do so. They are both RCR resorts…

        Like

  17. Chris December 13, 2022 / 11:29 pm

    There are plenty of Gondolas of similar design and vintage running in Europe and Japan without any issues. There must be something special about either the operator, the location, or subtle differences between European and Asian built variants vs the Canadian version.

    Like

  18. Kirk January 6, 2023 / 4:50 pm

    Sounds like the Quebec Lift authorities are hanging tough. Probably a good thing at that place.

    Like

  19. robin January 6, 2023 / 6:27 pm

    It is all your fault; you want your cake with no work. R.C.R. is a product of Murry Edwards; they know how to get in the government’s pocket (your money). The bigger the employer you say you are, the more cash you can cry for. M.S.A. is said to have 600 employees. This international resort had chemical toilets last year. When the sun hit that plastic, the smell of french cuisine wafted across the resort. There are no services here; they chase people away to have no lift lines or people on the hill. They have succeeded all the die-hard skiers have left.

    Where were all of you on July 22, 2017, when the events manager Steve Curer sucked the police on a 70-year-old man sleeping on a bench upright in the sun?
    The police officer put the boots to the elderly man in front of the mountain staff witness. The officer stepped back ten feet and drew his service weapon among a crowd of families passing thru drinking beer; the officer was putting on a show for the person that leases the food concession from M.S.A.

    R.C.R. vice president sit on his hands. Niel Jackson was made aware of this TWICE with pictures and police reports. Human rights are useless, as is the governing body of police officers.

    The golf club house was burnt to the ground recently; it is next to the gondola.
    So why do YOU keep feeding this beast? Does a child have to be shot or crushed to the ground in a gondola?

    My federal M.P.P. says it’s not her responsibility. My provincial M.P. will not answer.

    You know they operated that gondola during the peak of the pandemic. The health department had to be notified.

    Like

  20. Coin February 2, 2023 / 12:26 pm

    Like a lot of things in life these days, it’s all about money and profit. Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR) and Mont Ste. Anne (MSA) are no different. I, along with 4-6 male friends, used to go to MSA for 10 days every mid-March without fail, starting in the mid 70’s, up until two years due to the Pandemic. Until the past 10 years or so, MSA was lots of fun, what one expects on a ski holiday! We befriended the locals – got invited to their parties and reciprocated by hosting parties – both on and off the hill. One annual party was sharing a bottle (or more) of wine together with cheese on the trail opposite Le Cabane a Sucre; playing Birds in the Bush dice game with the gang on the deck at the top chalet, along many more fun times. It was not unusual for some of our local friends to ask us what night and where we were holding our Spaghetti party. Memories!
    Unfortunately, it became obvious over the last 7-10 years, that the facilities at MSA were gradually deteriorating due to lack of upkeep/maintenance. Buildings (most if not all owned by RCR) needed a refresh; trails often suffered from lack of grooming.
    Very disappointing to say the least! Even the Chouette Bar lacked the ambience it once had. “Apres ski” gradually became less and less “the place to be”.
    It was obvious that some of the locals stopped going to MSA and instead went to Le Massif. In the later years, we would take a break from MSA for a day or two and ski Le Massif, meeting up with the same “locals’.
    This year we had planned to go back to Quebec – ski MSA for 1-2 days, then on to Le Massif for the balance of our vacation. Due to MSA’s Gondola problem and the possibility it not running at all this season, plus other lift problems, we have decided , reluctantly & sadly to only ski Le Massif. We will be at their their “Massif Open”, one of the best of many events held every year at Le Massif. You may think I have shares in Le Massif – not true.

    Back to RCR, I understand they are focusing their efforts and dollars on their Western properties – Lake Louise, Kicking Horse, etc. I believe the FIS downhill world cup that has been held for many years at Lake Louise in late in November is moving part of the events to Mont Tremblant. No one has said why – perhaps due to lack of financing – same as MSA?

    Too bad RCR/MSA decided not to move further with a bid by Le Massif to purchase and run MSA.

    I hope and wish MSA get back to the resort I once loved so I can enjoy the mountain once again.

    Like

    • Skier72 February 2, 2023 / 1:41 pm

      RCR does not currently own/operate Lake Louise, though they did for a period of time in the mid-2000s. Under a private owner, Lake Louise has made considerable investments in the resort experience in recent years (such as installing 2 new lifts, as well as opening up the west bowl).

      Like

      • robin February 2, 2023 / 2:39 pm

        I am writing to John Shame and no action, Jackson, as we speak again. I am in Cuba; my slope-side M.S.A. condo sits empty all winter. Does anyone besides me see a pattern here? Someone burned the control room to the ground at Kimberly ski resort last year; du ya think someone was concerned about lift safety? All these people need is one homicide to be charged with criminal negligence.
        Do they cry poor so they can get GOVERNMENT subsidies? Does not Murry Edwards own R.C.R

        Like

        • Coin February 3, 2023 / 12:42 pm

          Murray Edwards owns Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, which owns Fernie Alpine Resort, Kimberley Alpine Resort, Nakiska, Stoneham Mountain Resort, Mont-Sainte-Anne, and Kicking Horse Resort. He owns shares of the Calgary Flames hockey team.

          Like

        • Robin February 3, 2023 / 3:40 pm

          Thank you, Coin Yes, Murry Edwards owns the six resorts, but no action. Jackson and John Shea run the show. Yes, I have been to all those resorts and know what they are about
          Least we all forget the Chateau Mont Sainte Anne, now called ( Merriot ) got a 20 million federal-provincial government grant to fix the leaky roof and build a pool (shh ) next to the congress hall with only underground tunnel access ( shh ) that only the private condo owners and paying guests quests of Chateau Mont Sainte Anne can use.
          ( SHH, Shh ) this is all only one hundred feet from the disaster M.S.A gondola

          Like

        • Robinhood February 3, 2023 / 4:01 pm

          Sorry, forgot this was all built last year. Where the 20 million went, God only knows? What importance is a gondola over a seldom-used swimming pool, hot tub and renovation of some fifty-year-old concert condos that no one can use? Naw, they never finished the large condos that face the gondola ( how do you renovate concrete? ) Shh! Ask the minster of Quebec tourism ( SHH ), she gave out the grant ) F it, it is only our money at a resort that charges TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS for a season pass and gives nothing to old farts like me that have been asking for more than fifty years God save Mont Tremblant and their 250,00 senior pass, ( Some day you could be me ) Long live the SKI BUM. Do you know any?

          Like

      • robin February 2, 2023 / 2:41 pm

        You were way too gentle

        Like

    • robin February 2, 2023 / 2:47 pm

      shhh! R.C.R. has nothing to do with Lac Louise. Their after the government bailout money

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s