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Load testing a chairlift

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

The crew at Nubs takes chairlift maintenance and safety very seriously.

They load test their lifts more frequently than they have to.

The best snow, the best lifts and the best employees...that's what Nubs aims for.


They don't even have a ticket.


People probably wouldn't go for this unloading process


When did your resort last test its chair lifts?

post #2 of 18

We started about a week ago load testing. Our lift engineer from the insurance company will be here 12/1 for the pre-season inspection and the state has already been here twice. It part of the less fun and less glamorous side of the ski industry that most people are unaware of.  

post #3 of 18

I don't know about other states, but in Vermont each lift needs to be load tested annually to pass its inspection and renew its registration. Yup, registration, just like a car. Every lift in the state has its own license plate. I'm pretty sure insurance companies insist on annual load testing even if the state doesn't. So the answer to the question how often does your area do it? Probably once a year. 


Edit: I didn't even realize that was my 1000th post until I posted it. Huh. 

post #4 of 18
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post

I'm pretty sure insurance companies insist on annual load testing even if the state doesn't.

Nailed it.
post #5 of 18
.... And being that the riblet quad is probably on it's 4th decade, a little safety factor love seems prudent.
post #6 of 18

Neither Willis Mtn. Guard or Wells Fargo Insurers have annual requirements. The ANSI B77 requires a minimum of every 7 years beyond that each state varies in requirements. Florida is extremely relaxed on their ski lift requirements.   

post #7 of 18

I much prefer the beer keg load test. For those mountains with a summit lodge, it kills two birds with one stone. Load testing and delivery, all at once. Although if the lift fails, that's a horrific waste of beer. 


post #8 of 18
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post

I much prefer the beer keg load test. For those mountains with a summit lodge, it kills two birds with one stone. Load testing and delivery, all at once. Although if the lift fails, that's a horrific waste of beer. 




That's why we practice lift evac. Did you think it was developed to rescue people?   

post #9 of 18

Do they use light beer?

post #10 of 18
post #11 of 18

I was under the impression that it was a Forest Service requirement to do annual tests on Federal forest lands.  Does anyone know if this is the case?

post #12 of 18
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post

I was under the impression that it was a Forest Service requirement to do annual tests on Federal forest lands.  Does anyone know if this is the case?

It appears that the FS does have requirements.

One of the 6 members in the CO board I mentioned above also has to be from the FS.
post #13 of 18

It looks like the ski areas may well be subject to several requirements for load testing:

From the NSAA:



Lift Inspections and State and Federal Regulation

Ski areas adhere to rigorous and exacting inspections procedures for the lifts at their resorts, and the fact that ski areas have not had a fatality due to a lift-related malfunction in 19 years is attributed to their meticulous inspection and maintenance programs. Ski area employees conduct their own individual inspection of theirs lifts on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. This year-round maintenance regimen is conducted pursuant to state agencies, lift manufacturer requirements, federal requirements, national safety standards and other inspection entities.

The American National Standards Institute (“ANSI”) – a national, non-profit umbrella accrediting organization which oversees standard-setting committees for nearly every industry in the United States – has a standards committee dedicated solely to ski lifts and passenger ropeway systems. Safety standards for ski lifts have been established by the ANSI Accredited Standards Committee B77 (“B77” for short), which was started back in 1956 to recommend safeguards, principles, specifications, and performance objectives that would reflect the current state of the art of passenger ropeway design, operations, and maintenance. This B77 Committee – which sets national consensus safety standards – is comprised of government officials, engineers, lift manufacturers, ski area owners and operators, academics, and other members of the public interested in ski lift design, operation, and maintenance.11    Membership on the B77 Committee is open to the public. The B77 Committee meets several times each year to address concerns by Committee members, review new technology, analyze incidents involving lifts and ropeways, and vote on updates and changes to these safety standards

11    Canada has a parallel standards committee, known as the Z98 standards, which are similar to ANSI B77 standards in the United States.

9on a regular basis. The current standards regulating ski lifts were most recently approved in 2011.

In turn, state regulatory agencies have adopted these B77 safety standards (and codified them into law) to govern ski lifts and passenger ropeway transportation.12    In addition to these B77 standards, ski areas are subject to inspection by regulators from state agencies governing ski lifts based on the B77 standards. Importantly, most ski areas go above and beyond the minimum standards required by ANSI B77 Committee and state regulatory agencies. Furthermore, many states and other inspection entities require impartial, third-party engineers to conduct lift inspections. In fact, most states require surprise, unannounced chair lift inspections during the course of the ski season as part of the regulatory framework for lift safety.

Additionally, ski areas operating on National Forest System lands must adhere to lift-related requirements in their special use permits. The U.S. Forest Service requires certification and inspection of lifts in accordance with the ANSI B77 Committee standards. The U.S. Forest Service is a member of the ANSI B77 Committee and monitors ski lift construction and operation on public land.

As part of ski areas’ maintenance and inspection procedures, independent specialists are brought in to inspect the wire ropes (the wire that carries the chairs) and chairlift grip testing. Areas routinely inspect tower footings that support the lift equipment, the sheaves that support the haul rope on the towers, gear boxes, brakes, and the electric motors powering the lifts, as well as other components. In fact, all ski lifts are required to have auxiliary engines as back-up power sources, in case there is a loss of electrical power. Lastly, ski areas routinely practice chair lift evacuation drills with their ski patrols in case of hazardous conditions or lift malfunctions.


Edit: And what NayBreak posted.

post #14 of 18

Daily inspections, grip tests, wire rope inspections etc. but those are all separate from load testing. ANSI B77 is the general standard but if you ever read it you will find that it is broad in definition on a lot of items. I have attended several of the B77 updates over the years and it is riveting stuff. I am waiting on the Trilogy of Movies to come out since I have already read the book.  

post #15 of 18

Typically, ski areas will conduct dynamic tests on their lifts once every seven years as this is the ANSI B77.1  minimum requirement.  Initially, when this requirement became mandatory, some areas with lots of lifts chose to test some lifts on a tighter schedule to stagger the subsequent testing dates. 


General inspections happen annually prior to operation per ANSI B77.1 requirements.  The Forest Service and State Agencies require that the areas correct any noted deficiencies and certify that they have done so.  The general inspections usually occur without large dynamic loads on the lifts.


Before a new lift is opened to the public a rigorous load test (generally more comprehensive than a dynamic test) is conducted and any deficiencies are corrected.  Also, if there is a major modification to a ropeway (new electric drive, tower replacement, etc.), a new load test is usually required before public operation. 


That's how it works...:)

post #16 of 18
Cool someone that speaks English.
post #17 of 18



It was a huge milestone for Tenney Mtn in NH to pass the load test for the Eclipse chair in early Dec.  There are several videos on the Tenney FB page on 12/04/15 of the actual testing, including several roll back braking tests.  (Do not need to be a FB user to view the Tenney FB Page.)  The load test involved putting cardboard boxes lined with plastic on each chair, 18"x18x24", filling them with water, for a total weight per chair about 614.5 pounds.  There are 58 chairs on the up hill side.  Simulated total weight of 32,500 pounds.


Tenney lifts had not been used for a few years after the place was put up for sale.  The new ownership team worked very hard in 2015 to fix and update the existing infrastructure in order to get partially open for 2015-16.  They are ready and waiting for the weather to cooperate.  Made use of the warm weather to replace all worn slats on the Eclipse chairs last week.


FB Post 12/04/15
TENNEY - Progress Update

Today TENNEY Mountain awakens as a proud member of the ski community once again.

The first of 4 lifts (Eclipse) has been re-registered and fully inspected by the NH Department of Safety, Tramway and Amusement Rides Division.

It's been a long 4.5 years in the making and a very rough and bumpy summer,,, setbacks that almost destroyed our dreams BUT tonight, we have met a very significant milestone and that is, we - TENNEY Mountain, is now off the list of Defunctional / Abandoned Ski Mountains! 

And we are all very proud and appreciative of all the support you have given us to get here!

Congratulations to all of us for such an awesome TEAM effort and thank you for making us ALWAYS feel like a part of this community.

Now get ready to hit the slopes of TENNEY, and be a part of history in the making...

post #18 of 18

Baloney.  A small area in Pennsylvania tested their new lift using tons of Baloney.  They closed a few years later.

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