WHITEFISH - Wednesday was the perfect storm of mechanical issues leading to Chair 1 at Whitefish Mountain Resort breaking down and leaving some skiers stranded for hours.
“So we get on the chair and it stops. Immediately my boyfriend started joking about being evacuated and I was like 'don't tempt fate.' I was like it's not a big deal. I've been stranded you know, for a short amount of time. And then the minutes ticked by and we had fun for the first hour and then I was like okay, something's gotta give,” said Mallory Phillips, one of the skiers that was stranded on the lift.
The morning started out rocky with Chair 2 not running to begin with, and then at around 12:30 p.m., Chair 1 stopped. Some skiers were stranded for close to four hours due to mechanical issues and didn’t have any information or communication about the situation.
“Well initially it was like that I was hungry, and then towards the end of the four hours, it was about how bad I had to go to the bathroom. And just hoping it doesn't take too long, I guess, because it's cold to just sit there. Especially when you're dressed for skiing,” said stranded skier Nathan Dugan.
Whitefish Mountain Resort spokesman Chad Sokol said that mechanical issues are common with chairlifts and they can usually be resolved before evacuations are necessary but not in this case.
“We were hoping that we would be able to use backup power. Unfortunately, that didn't work either because of the same electrical issue. There was just no communication with our switchboard. So backup power didn't work,” said Sokol.
Although the resort doesn’t have an exact number, they estimate that 200 to 300 people were evacuated. No injuries or frostbite were reported.
“I would consider this a fluke. A perfect storm of challenges, not something that happens often. But when it does, you know, we tried our best to work hard to fix it and got people off safely. And that's all that's all we can hope for yesterday,” said Sokol.
This situation was not ideal, but thanks to well-trained and dedicated ski patrollers, the issue was resolved. Seasoned skiers aren’t going to let this fluke stop them from enjoying the slopes.
“I would like to think that this is, knock on wood, that you know, I got out of my system and I won't be stuck on a chair anytime soon,” said Phillips.