In 15 years of skiing, this is a first.
The wife and I drove from NY to visit my brother in NE Ohio this weekend and we all went out to a small ski hill in Chesterland with my niece--a small place called Alpine Valley. I was riding the lift with my niece and my sister-in-law and heard a sound I never heard on a lift before--cachunk cachunk. The lift just stopped and started bouncing pretty high and there was actually a standing wave in the cable. In 15 years of skiing and riding lifts, I have never seen anything like that before. After about a second the chair started moving back for a brief second and I was thinking,"Oh Sh*t". I was actually getting ready to lift the bar and get ready to grab my niece and be ready to jump as I really thought we were going to stat moving. The bouncing stopped and we sat there and sat there and sat there. It was about 15 minutes before the lifties came out and told everyone there was a mechanical failure and the lift was kaput. About 15 minutes later a steady stream of fire trucks and ambulances started pulling up. By this time, we were freezing and there was a steady stream of sleet coming down and my niece and sister in law were crying. We were actually stuck on the high-point right under a tower. Probably 35 feet or so, so jumping was not an option.
I was trying to calm them down and tell them we will get off OK but they were borderline hysterical when the fire trucks pulled up. The lifties and fire were throwing up cables over the line and had a wrap-vest you slip around under your arms to lower you down. Getting off was pretty simply and non-eventful--just slide off the chair and get hoisted down as they let out rope. But we had to convince my niece to let go of the chair as she was terrified. I don't think she will ever ski again. She didn't want to slide down and was crying all the way.
It took about an hour and a half in total before they got to our chair and got us off. I really need boot heaters and won't ski without them now. Sitting idle on a chair in tight-fitting Head Raptors while freezing sleet is coming down has given me a mild case of frostbite. I didn't even know until I took off my boots in the lodge and the skin from my met heads upwards are blue and totally without feeling. My toes were getting numb and extremely cold on the lift but after about an hour I think I just lost feeling. A stable of EMT's were there as a precaution and they asked if I wanted assistance and I said no, I just wanted to go home. A couple people were being treated for frostbite to the face--the sleet was coming down pretty good. Other than that, nobody was hurt, except for people's confidence. I don't think we will ever get my niece to ride a lift again and my sister in law probably is packing it up too. They are only occasional skiers but it's a shame for my niece that she probably won't enjoy the sport now. She is only 7 years old.