Mount Hood Meadows, OR evacuated 150 skiers off a chairlift Wednesday after power fluctuations prompted the resort to shut down the lift. A storm overnight Tuesday had dumped 10″ of fresh snow at the resort but not before freezing rain left everything coated in ice. A Meadows spokesman told OregonLive.com that “power fluctuations” on the resort’s Blue chairlift prompted the resort to switch to auxiliary power, which wasn’t enough to power the already-occupied lift. Meadows then decided the safest way to move forward was to evacuate the lift.
The lift was at near capacity and it took 2 hours and 20 minutes from the time the lift was shut down and it was determined Meadows would evacuate the lift until the last passenger was safely evacuated. No one was hurt, resort spokesman Dave Tragethon said.
The resort was running Blue instead of its Mt. Hood Express chairlift on Wednesday morning because of ice on Mt. Hood Express, he said. Mt. Hood Express is a faster chairlift that fits up to four skiers or snowboarders on each chair, as opposed to Blue’s two.
Tragethon said that in such situations, workers lower stranded skiers to the ground by belaying them, or lowering them using harnesses and rope. In order to do so, workers shoot the harness over the chairlift line, climb up the chairlift using its stanchions and watch the skiers put their harnesses on. Workers down below then belay — or lower — the skiers to the ground. He credited skiers, ski patrollers, and Meadows workers for Wednesday’s safe evacuation.
Mt. Hood Express opened early Wednesday afternoon and Blue remained closed.