Electrical malfunction leads to gondola evacuation at Kicking Horse

Approximately 75 skiers and snowboarders were stranded on the gondola Sunday afternoon, with the final guests evacuated by 9:00 p.m.

The final run of the day turned into a lengthy one for some skiers and snowboarders at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort on Sunday afternoon, as approximately 75 guests were left stranded on the resort’s gondola. All eventually had to be evacuated, with the final guests being roped to safety by 9:00 p.m.

A large-scale electrical malfunction caused the Golden Eagle Express gondola and the Catamount chairlift to stop around 3:00 p.m. Resort personnel were able to get the Catamount chair restarted an hour later, but they weren’t able to do the same with the gondola because it is a much more complex lift, with a series of additional safety systems that need to be operational in order to have it run safely.

“The electrical issue destroyed the functionality of the safety system for operations. We physically would never run a lift without safety systems,” said Matt Mosteller, senior vice president of marketing and resort experience at Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, Kicking Horse’s parent company.

“Even if we had further opportunities for backup power, we still couldn’t run it without that safety system in place.”

The evacuation began around 4:00 p.m., when it became apparent that repairs to the gondola could not be completed on Sunday night.

“At that point we decided that we would go for a manual evacuation,” Mosteller said, adding that the operation included help from Golden and District Search and Rescue, Canadian Ski Patrol and Alpine Helicopters in addition to the resort’s safety team.

“We’re very fortunate to have a super highly trained and professional team engaged in this,” Mosteller said.

Guests in gondola cabins that were low enough to the ground were evacuated by a fixed rope line descending from the cabin itself, but cabins that were too high off of the ground were evacuated by helicopter. Eight teams of rescue personnel evacuated the guests over the next five hours, and all were off the mountain by 9:00 p.m.

Local skier Rob Wilson was one of those stranded on the gondola, sharing a cabin with five others. Initially Wilson didn’t think much of the stoppage, which occurred directly over the Grizzly Bear Refuge, but got curious the longer the interruption went on.

“It went on, and on, and on,” Wilson said, adding that someone from his cabin eventually noticed that a couple of patrollers were evacuating the gondola ahead of them.

“Then we (saw) a helicopter way at the top of the mountain doing an evacuation.”

Wilson and the rest of his cabin were evacuated around 6:00 p.m. by a fixed rope and dropped into the refuge. They later skied to the base under starlight while being escorted by patrollers.

“Everyone was starting to get cool, I’m glad we didn’t have to wait any longer,” Wilson said.

Wilson says he doesn’t blame the resort, saying that these things happen and are unavoidable.

Rescued guests were looked after and given hot meals and hot drinks and no injuries were reported as a result of the incident.

“Thanks very much for the huge patience of our guests (with) them being put into this very unfortunate inconvenience,” Mosteller said.

The malfunction also affected Eagle’s Eye Restaurant, but the rest of the resort remained operational. The gondola was still down as of Monday morning, though Mosteller said that the resort was hopeful it would be running again by the afternoon.


Just Posted

Your Mountain Minute

Your weekly news recap… Continue reading

Black Press Kootenay Career Fair underway in Cranbrook

Today, Thursday, August 22, around 40 employers will be waiting to meet potential new employees

Elk River reclaims property as its own

Laws make it harder to protect private land than ever before says farmer, local government

GADSAR receives funding for building upgrades

Golden Star staff Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors unanimously approved an application… Continue reading

Rossland council urges minister to kill Jumbo Glacier Resort project

Mayor writes letter panning ski resort on environmental, legal, and economic grounds

VIDEO: Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls into Hope

Thousands of cyclist descend on small town for annual cancer fundraiser

VIDEO: Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls into Hope

Thousands of cyclist descend on small town for annual cancer fundraiser

B.C. VIEWS: Pipelines set to roll as federal politicians posture

Projects to drive B.C., Canadian economy in years ahead

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Most Read