Tag Archives: Mt. Rainier Gondola

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!

Without Further Ado: The Mt. Rainier Gondola


John and I know a thing or two about waiting. When he was sick, we waited for word from his doctors. Praying they would find a liver donor before the cancer spread, our lives were reduced to small increments–manageable time chunks that we could survive. Sometimes we got through just fifteen minutes at a time.

So, when Crystal Mountain’s new Mt. Rainier Gondola was delayed last month, people asked me how we were handling the stress. I just smiled. Waiting for the Gondola was nothing.

After waiting for a liver transplant and surviving cancer, nothing ever feels too big anymore. In fact, I want to capture every precious moment and put it in my pocket. Yesterday the Gondola opened to a sunny, windless day at Crystal.  John and I cut the ribbon, rode to the top and held our arms out wide and the beautiful world.

It was a day to hold in my pocket. Watching little children, their arms held out straight from the twenty-five sweaters and pairs of long underwear beneath their snowsuits, line up in front of Mt. Rainier for photographs, I felt triumphant. When John first came to Crystal fourteen years ago, he envisioned a gondola to the summit.  Yesterday that dream became a reality.  I love it when a plan comes together.