Earlier this week a ski lift broke down at Lake Placid’s Whiteface Mountain, stranding skiers and snowboarders high above the slopes and prompting staff to evacuate 76 visitors from the malfunctioning machine. This news comes hot on the heels of the collapse of a chairlift at Maine’s Sugarloaf Resort just a day earlier, but fortunately this time out no one was hurt.
The 30+ year old chairlift is 4100 feet in length and can deliver 800 passengers to the top of the mountian each hour of operation. This particular lift also happens to provide access to the resort’s most popular and challenging runs and is generally quite crowded with skiers and snowboarders. On Wednesday, the lift malfunctioned at approximately 11 AM and the last passenger was lowered to the ground, using a rope and pulley system about an hour and 45 minutes later.
The news of two chairlift malfunctions in one week prompted the New York Department of Labor to issue a statement reassuring skiers that the lifts are indeed safe. In fact, the state says that it conducts more than 450 inspections each and every year in an effort to ensure safety on the slopes, but acknowledges that break downs do occur from time to time.
While obviously we all know that machines can break and malfunctions do happen, nothing can ruin a holiday ski trip like being stuck on a lift for a couple of hours, dangling in the cold wind while you wait for a rescue. Especially if it is the only day you have on the slopes. Hopefully the folks involved in both the Sugarloaf and Whiteface incidences were able to still enjoy a little winter fun.
[Photo credit: Petersent via WikiMedia]