Cabin Falls From Sunday River’s Chondola

A 17 year old guest sustained minor injuries in a lift incident at Sunday River last night. “At 5:37PM, a gondola cabin detached from the haul rope of the Chondola lift as a result of a high gust of wind causing the cabin to misfeed into the top terminal of the lift,” Sunday River said in a statement. “The cabin fell approximately 10 feet and was occupied by one guest who sustained minor injuries and was transported to the base of the mountain by ski patrol and released.”

The Chondola is a hybrid lift with both chairs and gondola cabins built in 2008. It features Doppelmayr UNI-G stations and Agamatic grips. “Due to increasing winds, the lift was being unloaded and running at half speed under high wind protocol at the time of the incident,” the resort said. “All guests remaining on the lift were safely unloaded and night skiing operations were suspended.”

Lawsuit Filed Following Camelback Chair Incident

The family injured when a chair fell from Camelback’s Resort’s Sullivan Express last March has filed a lawsuit alleging employees knew about problems yet continued to load skiers. New Jersey resident Yelisey Rabaev and two of his children were in chair 62 when it detached from the haul rope and all three suffered major injuries. Yelisey’s wife Goldie, who was with the couple’s two other children, watched the incident happen from another chair and is also a party in the suit.

Various LLCs that make up Camelback Resort are listed as defendants along with parent companies KSL Resorts of California and EPR Properties of Missouri. Doppelmayr USA, manufacturer of the 1995 model year lift, is not named in the lawsuit.

“Prior to Plaintiffs’ arrival at Camelback Mountain Ski Resort on March 21, 2021, patrons riding the Sullivan Express experienced violent shaking and swinging of the chairs on the Sullivan Express that was abnormal,” lawyers for the plaintiffs allege. “The violent shaking and swinging would occur when the Sullivan Express would start moving again after being stopped. The most violent shaking and swinging of chairs would occur near the top of the Sullivan Express within the view of the lift operator and/or attendant.”

“Despite having reports that the chairs on the Sullivan Express were violently shaking and swinging, and despite the lift operator/attendant having witnessed this shaking and swinging the Camelback Defendants outrageously, wantonly, willfully, and recklessly disregarded the safety of their patrons and failed to shut down, disable, and/or prevent riders from riding Sullivan Express and, instead, continued to permit and encourage patrons to utilize the Sullivan Express,” lawyers wrote.

The father and two children fell more than 20 feet and were taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Yelisey was most seriously injured and spent nearly three weeks in three different hospitals before being transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation center. Descriptions of his injuries take up nearly an entire page of court documents and he remains disabled. The minors suffered broken bones and one a collapsed lung.

The Sullivan Express remained closed for the rest of of last season but is now back open to skiers. “While we cannot comment on ongoing litigation, we remain deeply saddened for the family involved in the March 2021 Sullivan lift incident,” Camelback Resort said in a statement. “Our number one priority is always the safety and security of our guests and employees, and we have taken and continue to take extensive measures to ensure that we are providing a safe environment.” The family is being represented by Philadelphia law firm Cohen, Placitella & Roth, which has requested a jury trial.

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.

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.”

Kimberley Lift Fire Was Deliberately Set

Last month’s fire which destroyed a lift operator house at Kimberley Alpine Resort was no accident, police revealed today. The blaze torched key electrical components of the Northstar Express the morning of December 18th, rendering the lift inoperable on just the second day of the season. “Further investigation that included scene examination has led investigators to believe this fire is arson and was deliberately set,” said Kimberley Royal Canadian Mounted Police Detachment Commander Sgt. Steve Woodcox.

The fire has limited operations across Kimberley Alpine Resort, which relies on Northstar for out-of-base capacity. Faced without its key chairlift, the ski area has been utilizing a passenger snowcat from sister resort Kicking Horse, another on loan from Revelstoke Mountain Resort and third from a local logging company to move guests to two backside chairlifts. Another option for skiers is to hike 20-40 minutes to the base of the Tamarack double. The resort has also set up temporary food and beverage operations and warming tents on the backside of the mountain for guests while the frontside remains inaccessible. Tourism Kimberley estimates that despites these efforts, there has been a roughly 40 to 50 percent decline in bookings due to the situation with the quad chair.

“Resorts of the Canadian Rockies and Kimberley Alpine Resort’s maintenance experts have been in constant contact with the lift manufacturer, and they are putting a plan together to get the Quad Chair up and operating as soon as possible,” said General Manager Ted Funston in a late December update. “The fire completely demolished the lift control building, along with all the specialized electronic equipment that runs the lift, and so the difficult reality is that it is going to take some time to get the lift operating again, most likely measured in months rather than weeks,” he continued. The Kimberley RCMP requests anyone with information that could assist in their arson investigation to call (250) 427-4811.

Chair Detaches from Wildcat Lift

Photo credit: Mic Murphy

A triple chair fell near the base of Wildcat Mountain’s Snowcat lift this afternoon, sending one person to the hospital. The lift involved is a 1974 Riblet servicing beginner trails out of the base area. At 1:30 pm, Wildcat posted that Snowcat would remain closed for the day due to maintenance.

“We can confirm an incident occurred on Jan. 8, 2022 at Wildcat Mountain involving a 22-year-old male,” read an emailed statement from Wildcat’s parent company, Vail Resorts. “The guest was transported to Androscoggin Valley Hospital. The incident involved the Snowcat Triple, which is closed until further notice. Guests were safely unloaded off the lift at approximately 1:35pm. This incident is under investigation and we have no further details to share at this time,” Vail continued.

Chairs utilizing Riblet insert clips have fallen on occasion in recent years including last season at Indianhead, Michigan and 49 Degrees North, Washington. Within Vail Resorts, a Riblet triple chair fell from Heavenly’s North Bowl triple in 2016. Approximately 275 Riblet lifts currently operate worldwide, mostly in the United States.

Broken Water Line Sprays Lift Riders at Beech Mountain

An unfortunate situation was caught on video yesterday at Beech Mountain, North Carolina when a skier hit and broke a snowmaking hydrant under the #1 double. Now viral videos show guests struggling to stay in chairs as high pressure water hits them from below. Some chairs swing violently and it appears a few riders jumped or fell from the lift. At one point the lift stopped with two people directly in the path of the spray.

“On Friday, January 7, an uninjured guest skied into a water and air hydrant during snowmaking operations,” read a statement from resort management. “The hydrant was under a loaded chair, resulting in several patrons getting wet. Our operations and safety team worked diligently to unload the lift and drain the system safely. Avery EMS transported two patrons to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. We believe everyone is okay outside of the unfortunate situation, and operations are on a regular schedule.”

A similar incident occurred at Stratton Mountain, Vermont in 2018. In that case, a snowmaking pipe burst and sent water toward gondola cabins, causing them to swing. No one was injured in that mishap.

21 Rescued From Sandia Peak Tramway

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.

Fire Breaks Out at Kimberley Lift

For the second time in less than a year, the community of Kimberley, British Columbia faces weeks without a lifeline ski lift. A fire ignited at the Northstar Express early Saturday morning, burning the top operator hut. While outbuildings next to lifts are usually small, they typically contain electrical components critical to operation. Thankfully, the lift was not operating at the time and no one was injured.

The resort’s website shows the last image from the lift shack taken at 1:20 am, just before the fire was reported. While fires have occurred by accident at chairlifts in the past, police are investigating to determine the cause of the blaze. The town of Kimberley was already on edge due to another early morning fire which destroyed the Kimberley Gymnastics Club on December 14th and was deemed suspicious in origin. Police have yet to make any public statements about the cause of the Northstar Express fire.

The timing of ignition the morning after opening day and just before the key Christmas period is incredibly unfortunate if not suspicious. “Our hearts also go out to everyone in Kimberley who makes a living dependent on tourism and the operation of the ski resort, including the owners of many of the businesses in town, and the great staff who work for them,” the resort said in a statement. “Please know that our main focus right now is continuing to give locals and visitors access to the great skiing and riding, and to make visiting the resort as fun and enjoyable as we can.”

The Northstar Express is the only lift servicing the front side of the mountain and providing access to backside lifts. At one point, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR) operated four different parallel lifts on this part of the hill including a triple chair, double and T-Bar. All but the quad were removed in the early 2000s to save labor and maintenance costs associated with lifts deemed redundant. A string of setbacks now again leave the resort with two functioning chairlifts on the back of the mountain with no easy access.

There is precedent for the workhorse Northstar being out of service. On January 2nd last year, the Leitner-built quad was rendered inoperable by a gearbox failure. Kimberley lift maintenance and Leitner-Poma worked on repairs, which were completed in just over two weeks. In the meantime, the resort stayed open with uphill hiking allowed to access the backside Easter and Tamarack lifts. A similar operation is planned this time around with the addition of ski/snowboard transportation for those hiking. “Our main focus of course is getting the Quad chair up running again as soon as we possibly can,” said Kimberley. “We are working hard to source any parts we can from around the world to try to replace what was lost.” In the meantime, season passholders are invited to ski at other RCR mountains including Kicking Horse and Fernie.

The Kimberley RCMP is requesting anyone with any information that could assist the investigation to please contact them at (250) 427-4811.

Czech Tram Car Falls, Killing One

Another aerial tramway has crashed in Europe, this time in the Czech Republic. The incident occurred on a two cabin reversible system on Ještěd Mountain around 2:00 pm Sunday. An attendant operating the downbound cabin suffered fatal injuries. Thirteen passengers and a dog in the upbound cabin were safely evacuated by ladder truck.

The 4,000 foot long tramway was constructed by a Czech firm and opened in 1933. Each cabin rides on one track rope and there is a single haul rope loop made up of two segments. A major renovation of the system was completed in 1975 with electrical upgrades undertaken more recently. The lift is operated by a government-owned national railway and today was the last scheduled day of operation before a planned seasonal maintenance period. “The cause of this tragic accident is being investigated,” read a statement from the company. “Czech Railways expresses regret over the accident and sends its deepest condolences to the bereaved.”

This is the third catastrophic incident of the year on European aerial tramways. 14 people were killed in May when a haul rope broke on a tram in Northern Italy. Last month, two cabins were destroyed when a tramway failed to stop in France. That mishap occurred during maintenance and no one was injured.

Later in the day, the rail company issued a second statement and acknowledged the haul rope system failed, causing one of the cabins to fall.

We are very sorry that this tragic event has taken place and we want to express our deepest condolences to the survivors of our colleague. At the same time, we would like to thank all those who participated in the evacuation of passengers from the second cabin and took care of their transfer to safety. The cableway to Ještěd has a prescribed system of inspections, checks and revisions, which are regularly performed and records and protocols are kept about them. There is a daily visual inspection of the equipment with testing of safety features and regular maintenance every Monday. Every 14 days, the cable car undergoes a major inspection and once a month a so-called comprehensive inspection with protocol records. Major inspections are carried out on the cable car twice a year, always in spring and autumn between the summer and winter seasons. The ropes have a prescribed diagnostic inspection, which is performed for the supporting ropes every 3 years and for smaller ropes, every 2 years. The last diagnostic inspection of the tow rope took place in November 2020. Another inspection was recommended by an expert by November 2022.