Stay Off the Chairlifts!

December 17, 2009 was not a good day for riding chairlifts. Earlier we found ourselves  transfixed by Sean Tedore’s live ustream feed (above) of a chair mishap at Alpental ski area in Washington. That is until his phone battery died. Luckily, no one was injured when chair two “stopped working.” Tedore, who was riding with Shawn McKay at the time, had to be repelled down the hill after spending two or so hours on Alpental’s lift 2. “Either a chair fell off or the fly wheel broke, I couldn’t really tell,” Shaun said, not that helpfully.

Later on Thursday, halfway across the country, a chairlift at Devil’s Head Resort in Wisconsin also broke. This time, it was not as funny (nor was it live streamed, to our knowledge.) At least 3 people were seriously injured when “the chair lift stopped, and then started going backward, and lift operators were unable to stop it immediately.” Not sure if you’ve seen the video of what happens when chairs go backwards (below), but let’s just say, we’re glad only 12 injuries were reported. Rumorator’s onscene photos here and even More details here

Since bad things happen in three, looks like we’ll be on a strictly urban/hiking/pipe jocking/sitting on the couch mission until another lift goes down and it’s safe to hit the slopes again. Crap.

7 replies
  1. stevedave
    stevedave says:

    seriously? of course they’re not designed to go batshit crazy. if it breaks and the wheel has no resistance, the chair is gonna start going very fast backwards because of all the people/momentum on the one side of the chair

  2. Jimbo
    Jimbo says:


    The reverse you’re thinking of, being the gear, is only on detachable-style lifts. What apparently happened here is called a ‘Roll-back’ and if it ever happens when you’re on the lift and doesn’t stop within like fifteen seconds: you’re a lot better off jumping off the chair at the first reasonable spot because otherwise you’re pretty much fucked. We watched that same video for our lift-ops training at Alpine Meadows. Apparently they had no idea that the cinder blocks would become trebuchet-style projectiles.

    And holy fuck, there was a roll-back?! I’m so glad to hear that they got it stopped and nobody died. Our manager told us that if it ever happens on our shift, hit every brake button within reach, and if it doesn’t stop tell everybody to “run like hell and get the shit out of there”

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