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Power Outages

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I was on Big Mountain's website this AM and saw that nothing was open so far due to a power outage. I get so focused on skiing you forget that the lifts run on electricity.

Anyone ever been stuck on a lift due to mechanical or power issues?
post #2 of 10
Got stuck on a lift once due to mechanical failure, but they got it up and running about 30 minutes later without need for an evac. Took part in an evac simulation last year at a local hill. Wasn't fun.
post #3 of 10
Got stuck on lift in december this year at Sun Valley. They had a 3 hour power outage. We got to the top after 40 min. with backup generators. When we got to the top we had the mountain all to our selves so it was kind of nice to ski down with no one else around.
post #4 of 10
A few years ago, Mt. Bachelor's local owners sold to Powdr Corp. (I think). In the old days, breakdowns were few and far between. Today they are common, short but common. I suspect it has to do with lengthening the maintance schedules and relying more on used and lower quality mfr parts. So far it has been only short downtimes but I wonder if that will last . . .

post #5 of 10
Working for an electric company serving both Smugglers Notch and Jay Peak, we do not forget what energy is used to run lifts and make snow. Neither Smuggs nor Jay is the largest industrial customer of Vermont Electric Cooperative, but they're very, very important. At a previous Annual Meeting, our guest speaker was Bill Stenger, who's General Manager of Jay Peak. He eloquently reminded us of what happens during an outage when many, many skiers are sitting on the lifts or standing in the tram.

The last time I was near such an event was a few years ago during the Jackson Hole gathering of the Bears. There was no outage, but Fox Hat and several others were left sitting on the lift for half an hour. Ask him about it sometime.
post #6 of 10
Back in the early 70's I was skiing at Stevens Pass and was about 10 feet from the unloading ramp, just shy of the net on Big Chief when the power failed. It was cold and blowing hard. We sat there freezing our butts off for 40 minutes before they got the diesels going. If you know this area you know that we couldn't bail out even if we wanted to. I've never been so cold skiing before or since.
post #7 of 10
I've been stuck for 30 minutes or so at Steven's Pass while they got the back-up generators going.

I've been stuck at Mt Rose due to wind, that is much worse.
post #8 of 10
I think every ski lift in Utah has a motor driven backup (usually diesel but can be gasoline). At Park City Mountain Resort all of the high-speed chairlifts have two diesel backups - the first system (APU1) can drive the lift at near full speed, and the second smaller system (APU2) can only drive the lift at a very slow "evac" speed. The fixed-grip chairlifts only have a single backup engine auxillary drive. These are not backup generators as they do not require the electric motor to be operational to run the lift. The engines instead drive the gear box via some type of power linkage (fluid coupling, belt drive etc.).

When power is lost there is a delay until the lift is switched-over to the auxillary by a lift maintenance tech. Usually a matter of minutes.

More serious problems can occur with power bumps or surges which can screw up electronic controls. This may require replacement of components and other repairs that can take longer than just switching over to auxillary drive.

I think it is state law (state tram board) that requires the backup systems, and I think this is similar in most other states.
post #9 of 10
I've seen the power go out at our mountain twice in the same season (two years ago). It takes them about 20 minutes to get the backup generators going. I don't think the lift operators can start the generators -- it seems guys have to come around on snowmobiles to get each one started. Then the lifts are slower than full highspeed.

One time we had to hike out a small hill and ski to the base so that was no problem. The other time -- I think it was about 20 below zero (without the windchill- there was a wild wind on top of it) my husband was stuck on the lift. I was able to radio him and tell him the power was out and we already knew the 20 minute thing. At least he knew what was up while he was freezing.

Always Skiing
post #10 of 10
We were at Kirkwood many moons ago and noticed we had the hill to ourselves in the middle of the day. Looked around and realized no lifts were running and we must have gotten off just before they shut down. Kirkwood was, however, off the grid and generated their own power... probably still do. Anyway it took about an hour for them to get things going again. I'd hate to be stuck near the top of the "Freezer" at Jay. Brrrr.
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