Ski Area Operator’s Worst Nightmare


You might have seen this one on Unofficial Networks. Basically it’s your worst nightmare. The title is Every Skiers Nightmare, but really this is every ski operator’s nightmare too. One big gust of wind and that cable comes right off the line. Scary stuff. Chairlifts in N. America are regulated by a tram board. One of the basic requirements on all chairlifts is that the sheeve assemblies (the little wheels that the cable rides on) have a cable catcher that doesn’t allow this to happen. I’m not even sure how this is possible. But it’s ugly.


This is what it looks like without a cable catcher.





Last week in Slovakia a flood and subsequent landslide destroyed the base area of Vråtna ski area. This one, too, sent a chill down my spine. According to the ski area’s Facebook page, no one was injured. But several million dollars worth of damage has been done to the ski area. Those Dopplemeyer gondolas don’t come cheap.

Gondola cabins inundated with landslide

Gondola cabins inundated with landslide

Vråtna's Gondola gets destroyed in landslide

Vråtna’s Gondola gets destroyed in landslide



3 responses »

  1. Somone once told me that if a chair lift starts going backwards uncontrollably, like a brake failure, you’d be better off to jump then to be on the chair by the time it gets back to the base. Don’t know how true that is…

    • That’s true of older chairlifts. Nowadays chairlifts, even the old ones, have rollback braking systems to prevent this from happening. Some newer chairlifts are even designed to go backward. However, yes. If the chair is rolling back uncontrollably, you’d be best to jump off way before it gets to the base. For proof of this, here’s an old video from a chairlift test. They disengaged the brake and loaded the chair with weights and let ‘er rip. Scary stuff:

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