Skiers safely evacuated after chairlift stops at resort

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Chair 5 on Whitefish Mountain Resort opened for the 2017-18 ski season. (Mackenzie Reiss/Daily Inter Lake file photo)

About 140 skiers were rescued from a chairlift in the East Rim area at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Saturday after the lift stopped as the result of a mechanical issue.

The Chair 5 lift stopped at about 12:15 p.m., according to the resort, and maintenance teams responded to repair the lift, which quit due to an issue with the chairlift’s bullwheel liner.

There were no injuries.

Ski patrol responded immediately to communicate with passengers and stage for a possible lift evacuation. Because repair of the lift was not expected to be timely and for comfort and safety of skiers on the lift, the decision was made to evacuate skiers from the lift, the resort said.

Ski patrol began assisting in getting passengers to the ground at about 1 p.m. and the last passenger was evacuated at 3:37 p.m.

“We were in constant communication with the passengers and kept them informed on the issues and evacuation process,” resort officials said in a release. “We brought hand warmers, blankets and warm drinks.”

At the time of the incident, the resort reported, temperatures were in the high teens and winds were at 10 miles per hour with occasional gusts.

Chair 5 began operating during the 2017-18 season to serve the East Rim area. The chairlift was originally located near Ptarmigan Bowl and opened for service in 1981.

Chair 5 serves mostly advanced skier terrain and traverses steep areas with cliffs.

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