Sugarloaf ski lift collapses in wind gust; ski patrol evacuating


The main chairlift at the Sugarloaf ski resort has been blown off its tracks. Image: Wikimedia Commons

A large gust of wind in Carrabasset Valley, Maine, brought down a ski lift at the Sugarloaf ski area. The Sugarloaf ski lift brought five chairs down 40 feet and stranded 100 others. Ski patrol and emergency response at Sugarloaf ski resort in Maine are evacuating the stranded skiers individually using climbing harnesses.

Sugarloaf ski lift collapse

At approximately 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, a very strong gust of wind hit the Sugarloaf ski area. The cables of the Spillway East Slope lift derailed. This threw five chairs 30 to 40 feet down to the snow, injuring several skiers. About 100 other skiers were trapped on the lift. Wind gusts at the Sugarloaf ski area had reached 20 to 30 miles per hour this morning. The temperature is hovering around 8 to 10 degrees, making cold the next big risk to the trapped skiiers.

No critical injuries at Sugarloaf

Though the ski lift collapse at Sugarloaf injured several skiers, nobody was critically injured. Emergency Management for Franklin County, Maine reported that they were at “condition yellow” at Sugarloaf, meaning that nobody was critically injured or died. Emergency management crews were working with ski patrol to evacuate skiers off the Sugarloaf Spillway lift. Estimates said that it would take between 90 minutes and two hours to evacuate all of the skiers off the lift.

Evacuation off the Sugarloaf ski lift

The Sugarloaf ski lift evacuation is being done using ropes and harnesses. Teams are throwing ropes over the broken-down ski lift and harnessing skiers to slide down. They are describing the procedure as “much like rock climbing” and are belaying skiers off the lift, skis and all. The Sugarloaf ski resort will be shutting down the Spillway East lift for at least a few days, if not weeks, in order to repair the broken lift. This is just the latest fallout from the East Coast blizzard that has snarled traffic, shut down cities and caused power outages across the coast.



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