Gondola Rescue Practice


With the Mt. Rainier Gondola on wind hold yesterday, patrollers practiced our new ZipRescue system which allows us to evacuate the cabins in the very unlikely event of a emergency. With multiple backup systems and engines–not to mention a crack team of lift mechanics–the chances of the new Gondola ever needing to be evacuated are quite small. And since I believe in that strange phenomenon I call “preparation karma”, I figure that the better trained we are, the less likely we will ever need to use our skills.

Since patrollers can only train on the Gondola when it isn’t running, most of our practice has been after hours. Like the postal service, we’ve evacuated the chairs in rain, snow, sleet, hail, and now–wind!. Even at Tower 4, where yesterday I climbed up to attach my ZipRescue to the haul rope, the wind threatened to blow us off the gantry. But at least we had plenty of daylight. I just wish I brought another jacket!

Much like ziplining, the ZipRescue system is quite fun. The rescuer attaches him or herself to the haul rope (aka lift cable) and lowers down to the cabin. From there, the rescuer opens the cabin door, sets up a belay and lowers the stranded passengers to the ground. Afterwards, the rescuer ascends back up to the haul rope and zips down to the next car.

Thanks to the wind yesterday, several patrollers had the chance to train with the ZipRescue, which makes the chance of a real evacuation–as long as you buy into the “preparation karma” theory–that much less likely.

All photos taken by Evan Wang. Thanks Evan!

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