Gondola Riders Injured in Incident at Mont-Sainte-Anne

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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.

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Chairlift-Winch Cat Accident Injures Four in Switzerland

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Four people were injured when their chair fell approximately 30 feet from the upper section of the Stoos-Fronalpstock chairlift in central Switzerland last night.  It is believed the chair came in contact with a snow cat’s winch cable before falling.  Such cables are commonly used to assist with grooming steep slopes.  The lift involved is a Garaventa detachable quad with bubbles.

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The accident occurred around 10:00 pm when employees of the Lindt chocolate company were descending from an evening private event.  Two of the four victims sustained life-threatening injuries.  “We are in close contact with the medical team and family members and wish our employees to heal as quickly as possible,” said a spokesperson for the chocolatier.  Six people in two other chairs were rescued uninjured.  The lift will remain closed while an investigation and repairs are completed.

Stevens Pass Evacuates Seventh Heaven Following Tower Incident

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A malfunction occurred on the Seventh Heaven double this morning at Stevens Pass, necessitating a rope evacuation.  Photos appear to show sheaves missing from the light side of tower 1 and the rope caught by the bottom terminal.

“At approximately 9:45 a.m. this morning, Seventh Heaven chairlift stopped operating,” read a statement from the mountain, which is operated by Vail Resorts.  “Ski patrol evacuated 26 guests, with no reported injuries.  The evacuation was safely completed at approximately 12:15 p.m.,” the statement continued.  “Stevens Pass extends its apologies to the guests who were inconvenienced by this event.  The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority.”

Seventh Heaven is one of three remaining Riblet chairlifts at Stevens.  It first opened in 1960 but many components including the bottom terminal and tower 1 are newer than that.  The lift services expert terrain on Cowboy Mountain and reaches an elevation of 5,640 feet.  There was no immediate word on when the summit would reopen.

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Tower 1 is heavily loaded with 12 sheaves on each side.

Fallen Chair Forces an Evacuation at Montana Snowbowl

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Photo credit: David Erickson via Missoulian

A chair got caught in a terminal guide and fell from the LaValle Creek lift at Montana Snowbowl on New Year’s Day.  The haul rope was damaged enough that dozens of other riders were roped down from the lift.  No one was injured.  The lift remains closed and Snowbowl owner Andy Morris says repairs may take a week or more.

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The station where the incident occurred as seen in 2016.

The 1984 Riblet is the only lift servicing Montana Snowbowl’s 7,560 foot summit.  Riblet lifts do not utilize traditional grips but rather clips that are inserted into the haul rope.  Clips coming loose are rare but not unheard of occurrences.  In 2011, the same lift lost a chair in the loading area.

Lift ticket prices have been reduced as a result of the summit closure.  Snowbowl’s long-awaited Snow Park Expansion may debut before LaValle reopens, giving guests more intermediate options.  The expansion has been under construction for three years and includes a used Riblet double from Snowmass.

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Steamboat Gondola to Reopen Tomorrow

The Steamboat Gondola will once again carry guests Thursday morning, ten days after a gearbox issue halted operation of the brand new lift.  Through a holiday week and major snowstorms, teams worked diligently to make repairs including new parts shipped from Europe.  During the downtime, the Christie Peak and Thunderhead Express lifts provided access to terrain normally serviced by the gondola.

Doppelmayr would like to apologize to the Steamboat community for the interruption in service on the gondola, which was caused by a failure of the main gearbox after only two days of public operation. The backup systems functioned properly and the Steamboat team reacted quickly and appropriately after the gearbox failure. Our technicians and engineers worked around the clock with Steamboat personnel and technical experts from Germany, Austria and Canada, to replace the failed gearbox and associated components. We also took additional steps to improve the overall design and brought in a technical expert to eliminate vibration that contributed to the original failure. We have conducted numerous tests and are happy to report that the gondola will return to service on Thursday. We offer a sincere thanks to Rob Perlman, Dave Hunter and Kurt Castor, and to the Steamboat community for their patience and support. We are confident and proud of the Steamboat gondola and look forward to years of use for skiers and snowboarders.

– Mark Bee, President, Doppelmayr USA

The new Steamboat Gondola is the product of a two part, $15+ million replacement project.  This past summer, upgrades included new level walk-in cabins, grips, hangers, controls, tensioning systems, drive equipment, towers, line gear and parking.  With the number of cabins increased to 137 and line speed pushed to six meters a second, travel time to Thunderhead Lodge is now under ten minutes.  Capacity has increased by 38 percent versus the previous Silver Bullet Gondola.

Sometimes setbacks happen, especially with large scale projects such as this one.  As the video above demonstrates, lifts are built by teams of dedicated people.  I look forward to being one of the thousands to enjoy the new gondola in the coming weeks thanks to their hard work.

Cabin Falls From a Gondola in Switzerland

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No one was injured when a downbound cabin detached from a haul rope near the Swiss town of Schwyz this morning.  The empty gondola fell some 60 feet into a pasture and was heavily damaged.  Approximately 50 people in other carriers were brought into stations normally and the gondola was closed.  It appears the incident happened at or near one of the lift’s 16 towers.

The gondola is a 2014 Garaventa model with CWA Omega cabins and torsion grips.  An investigation will be undertaken by the Swiss Transportation Safety Board.  The company which operates the lift, Rotenfluebahn Mythenregion AG, says it will not reopen the system until it is cleared to do so and the rope is inspected for damage.

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Doppelmayr Worldbook entry for the affected lift.

Update 10/21: The operator issued a statement blaming the accident on high wind.  The affected cabin collided with the tower before falling.  The installation was already in the process of being cleared of riders when the incident occurred, a process which takes 20 minutes.  The gondola remains temporarily closed.

Disney Skyliner Closed Following Partial Evacuation

An in-station collision on the Epcot line of the Disney Skyliner caused a stop that left people stuck in gondolas for more than two hours Saturday night and led to a partial evacuation.

The first tweet about the situation at Walt Disney World Resort appeared at 8:43 pm eastern time, followed by pictures of stacked cabins in one of the outgoing sections of the Riviera Resort angle station.  Riviera is the second of four stations on the longest Skyliner line, which links Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort to Epcot’s International Gateway.

The unfortunate incident happened just a week after the gondola system opened to the public.  Crews practiced repeatedly in the months prior to launch for such a scenario.  Each cabin is equipped with two way communications, emergency supplies and water.

As of 9:30, Reedy Creek Fire Department trucks and specialized lifts were being used to evacuate people from a few cabins.  The Epcot line passes over a narrow body of water plus multiple roads and buildings, necessitating a variety of rescue equipment.  The shorter Hollywood Studios and Pop Century/Art of Animation lines were unaffected but unloaded as a precaution.

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Sea to Sky Gondola Posts a Recovery Update

A month after someone brazenly sabotaged the Sea to Sky Gondola by cutting its haul rope, cleanup is nearly complete with a rebuilding plan in place.  “After a massive effort by our incredible operations team, and partners at Rocky Mountain Lift Services, Doppelmayr and Black Tusk Helicopters, we have removed all of the cabins, pieces of the damaged cable, and have secured the main cable,” the company wrote on Facebook this morning. “Thanks to our friends at Whistler Blackcomb, Inter-Mtn Testing and Windfirm Tree Services for their assistance in making this happen.”  A remarkable video of the process shows cabins being carefully extracted from the lift line and surrounding forest before being flown to the gondola’s parking lot.
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Delivery of a new haul rope from Europe is expected next month and an order of new cabins will follow.  Work continues under the gondola and upper mountain hiking trails remain closed for now.
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The gondola base area including Basecamp Cafe, guest services and retail store reopened last week along with a trail to Shannon Falls and the Stawamus Chief.  “We are still anticipating an early spring 2020 reopening and would like to thank everyone for their patience and support,” says the Sea to Sky team.
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Police have not issued any updates since confirming the intentional nature of the cut on August 23rd.  Anyone with information regarding this crime is asked to call 604-892-6122.  Alternatively, anonymous tips can be provided through Metro Vancouver Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Disaster Strikes the Sea to Sky Gondola

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Photo credit: Kirby Brown via Squamish Chief

Something terrible happened to the Sea to Sky Gondola overnight and police say it was likely an intentional act.  General Manager Kirby Brown told the Squamish Chief that a worker heard a loud noise around 4:30 am and later found gondola cabins on the ground.  “We’re just in the early moments of investigating how that could possibly happen,” he told the newspaper.  “Certainly, early indications are that there was no environmental or maintenance mechanism that could have caused it.  It points toward a conclusion that somebody interfered with the lift.”

No one was on the 7,000 foot long gondola at the time.  The Doppelmayr eight passenger installation opened in May 2014 to carry sightseers and hikers above Howe Sound near Squamish, British Columbia.  Not everyone was happy about the project when first proposed due to its proximity to the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park.  The gondola proved popular, however, and just this spring more cabins were added to bring the total number to 31.

At a 3:00 pm press conference, Kara Triance with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said a criminal investigation is underway.  “At this time we believe the cables were cut and this was a deliberate act of vandalism,” she said.  The 52 millimeter haul rope was completely severed and the majority of cabins crashed to the ground.  Teams are attempting to survey the entire lift line for clues and are asking the public to stay away.  Technical Safety BC and Doppelmayr are also assisting with the investigation.  Anyone with information on this crime is asked to call the RCMP at 604-892-6100.

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Wind Blamed for Occupied Chair Falling in Australia

A lone skier was only slightly injured when the quad chair he was riding detached and fell some thirty feet near the top terminal of the Gunbarrel Express at Thredbo earlier today.  In a statement, the resort says the incident was isolated to one chair and the result of high winds.  According to the Canberra Times, the region recorded a maximum gust of nearly 70 miles per hour Monday.

Gunbarrel is a 1988 Doppelmayr detachable quad with DS grips.  The lift traverses more than 5,500 feet of intermediate and advanced terrain with a capacity of 2,800 skiers per hour.

It’s already Tuesday in Australia and Gunbarrel remains on standby while other lifts are currently open.