Emergency lift evacuation at Fernie Alpine Resort

Guests were evacuated from the Bear chair at Fernie Alpine Resort yesterday after a mechanical failure.

  • Jan. 28, 2013 6:00 a.m.

It was the perfect day for powder hounds at Fernie Alpine Resort yesterday, but for a few guests who had to be evacuated from a broken down lift, it wasn’t all endless powder runs.

The Great Bear Express lift, a high speed quad, experienced a mechanical failure Sunday morning, when over half of the chairs had guests on them.

After about half an hour, Fernie Alpine Resort staff began to unload the chairs using their unload evacuation plan, lowering guests one-by-one on a harness attached to a rope strung over the lift cable.

After a few guests were unloaded, mechanics were able to get the lift moving slowly so the rest of the guests could unload normally at the top.

The lift was then closed for the rest of the day.

Matt Mosteller, Vice President, Marketing and Sales at 
Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, said the maintenance team had been working to try to prevent a break down.

“There was a failure on a friction plate which is kind of a manufacturer’s defect on these type of detachable lifts,” he said. “One of the chairs got off the line so it wouldn’t go around the bull wheel. So we had to stop the lift and fix it.”

Some of the guests were left stranded for up to an hour.

“We have been aggressively doing work for some time to prevent this from happening, and this is the first time it has happened,” said Mosteller.

Mosteller was not aware of how many guests were evacuated but said they were all offered a gift from the resort for their understanding.

“You can’t place a value on people’s time but we know it was a nuisance for the guests affected and we really appreciate their great attitude,” he said.

The Bear chair was back in action today.