NL Gazette

Marble Mountain skiers abandoned for hours following lift failure

Nfld and Labrador

Key takeaways: 

  • Operations manager Richard Wells states two teens were sent to the clinic suffering mild hypothermia.
  • Rescue teams ready to lower skiers abandoned a failure ski lift at Marble Mountain on Saturday, March 5.

Ski lift failure leaves people stranded: 

Numerous as 250 people were left abandoned after a malfunction closed down a ski lift at Marble Mountain Saturday.

Firefighters, search and rescue units from around the province, and ski patrol students all performed together to vacate the lift, a procedure which took between two and a half to three hours.

Some skiers spent that time stopped in the air as high as 60 feet or three floors. 

“Everyone was very cold,” states Marble Mountain operations manager Richard Wells. “Anyone on a four-pack, they were bundled jointly. If you were there by yourself, the breezes and whatnot, the factors are going to impact you a little bit differently.”

The happening occurred mid-morning Saturday on the “Lightning Express” chair lift. A failure forced one of the system’s sheaves—the wheels that keep the lift’s haul rope handling—to cease turning, getting the system to a sudden hiatus.

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Lift failure at the Marble Mountain

Wells said teams are probing the reason for the malfunction.

While two teens were sent to hospital suffering mild hypothermia, Wells said there were no wounds, and skiers were “in excellent spirits.”

Simultaneous failures

In his twelve years at the resort, it’s the first time he’s seen a chairlift evacuation for any intent other than training.

“We’ve ever trained for it and assessed about a five-hour operation to bring the complete line done there,” he said. “So assuming we cut in half that timeline, we’re very proud of how it all arrived together and the help again that we did have.”

Wells counts there were between 220 and 250 people on the lift at the time, with units requiring approximately 15 minutes per chair to vacate everyone.

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