Operators at Whitefish Mountain Resort are hoping for a quieter weekend to ring in the New Year after a challenging week forced the resort to evacuate 2 to 3 hundred skiers when a lift quit this week.
The problems began on Wednesday morning when the resort’s equipment began to experience a series of electrical problems, including the backup system. That included Chair 1 during the noon hour on Wednesday, where it took a few hours to get some skiers back off the mountain. A resort spokesman told the Flathead Beacon between 200 and 300 skiers were taken off the lift by closing time at 4 pm.
Chair 2 also went down later in the afternoon, but without any skiers being caught on the chairs.
“We know we fell short of our guest’s expectations, and frankly, our own too,” the resort wrote in a statement on its Facebook page. “We’re not proud of that. But what we are proud of is the resilience and heroic efforts of our patrol and our lift maintenance teams. We are proud that we were able to safely evacuate every guest without injury or incident.”
The resort went on to write that it was a “perfect storm” of challenges.
“We had two of our most critical lifts go down simultaneously with electrical and mechanical issues, on top of uncharacteristic avalanche conditions affecting a third lift (Hellroaring) for the first half of the day.”
Whitefish Mountain operators explain the decision was made to fully evacuate the lift after 35-40 minutes of downtime, but they say that choice would have been made sooner if conditions on the mountain had been colder.
The weekend will offer some new experiences to help people forget their problems this weekend. Friday was the opening day for the newest lift on the mountain, the Snow Ghost Express, which is a new high-speed lift that can reach the top of inspiration ridge in just seven minutes. It can handle up to 2,000 skiers per hour.
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