Some Whitewater skiers spent from 45 minutes to nearly two hours stranded on the Silver King chairlift due to a power outage Monday morning, ironically thought to be caused by the surprise snow dump that occurred Sunday evening.
Though the Summit chairlift continued to function without power, quickly and efficiently off-loading its customers in evacuation mode, the Silver King chair didn’t cooperate. Pairs of skiers found themselves dangling above their beloved snowpack, waiting for rescue.
“On the Silver King chair there was an electrical issue with the mechanical drive back-up, so we couldn’t run it in evacuation mode,” said Kirk Jensen, general manager. “The patrol had to manually evacuate about 50 percent of the lift.”
The lift was full when it stopped moving, leaving 60 people to be rescued. Once they realized the evacuation drive wasn’t working, staff scaled the towers and used safety harnesses to lower their customers to the ground.
Eventually the motor began working again, and the remainder of the stranded skiers were off-loaded.
“It went really smoothly,” said Jensen, praising his staff. “Our policy is if it’s a situation out of our control like this, we give them all a voucher that’s good for another day on the mountain this year, or even next year if they’re from out of town.”
The outage foiled the ambitions of local skiers looking to capitalize on the fresh powder, as the resort closed for the day.
Power returned at approximately 4 p.m., and though they had another issue with a blown fuse that required FortisBC’s attention, operations are now running smoothly again.
“The conditions are great,” Jensen said. “We’ve got 30 cm of fresh snow. It’s a little heavier on the south aspect, — we’re getting more sun over there, and dry on the north aspect. We’ve got beautiful blue skies.”
When reached during the outage, FortisBC spokesman David Wylie said the outage was possibly caused by fallen tree branches: “We’ve found some damage to the system due to wet and heavy snow. We had some trees that came down.”
Wylie said approximately 20 other customers were impacted as well.
Though the Glory Ridge Chair will be closed for the remainder of the season, the latest snow dump has improved conditions considerably elsewhere in the resort.
“Snow conditions and terrain on the Summit and Silver King remain excellent — especially with the addition of all this new snow” read the Whitewater website’s daily report.
“The base of Glory is at a significantly lower elevation than the rest of the resort and as such snow conditions have become marginal on the lower third of the Glory terrain. All Glory terrain will now be considered outside the operational ski area boundary and therefore will not be patrolled. Entering will be at your own risk.”