Skiing is one of the most thrilling and adventurous winter sports, and there’s nothing quite like gliding down a snow-covered slope with the wind rushing past you. However, as with any sport, skiing comes with its own set of risks.
One of the most common fears skiers has getting stuck on a ski lift, especially overnight. Plenty of skiers have had unfortunate incidents on the ski lifts.
Let us explore some real-life stories of skiers stuck on a ski lift and tips on what to do in such a situation.
Yes, there have been instances of people getting stuck on ski lifts overnight. In most cases, these individuals were accidentally overlooked by ski patrol or resort staff during closing procedures. Typically, such situations are resolved by morning with rescue teams intervening to ensure the safety and well-being of those stranded.
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What Causes Skiers to Get Stuck on Ski Lifts?
Ski lifts are complex machines that transport skiers up the mountain safely and efficiently. However, like any mechanical system, ski lifts can sometimes experience malfunctions or technical issues that can cause skiers to get stuck.
Some of the most common causes of skiers getting stuck on ski lifts include power outages, mechanical failures, high winds, and human error.
One of the most common causes of ski lift malfunctions is power outages. When the power goes out, ski lifts can come to a sudden stop, leaving skiers stranded mid-air. Mechanical failures can also cause ski lifts to stop functioning correctly.
Various factors can cause these, such as worn or broken components, improper maintenance, manufacturing defects, etc.
These can also cause ski lifts to stop running. When winds reach a certain speed, ski lift operators often shut down the lifts as a safety precaution. However, if skiers are already on the lift when it shuts down, they must stay there until the winds die.
It can also contribute to ski lift malfunctions. For example, a ski lift operator may accidentally start the lift before all the skiers are seated, causing someone to fall off and trigger an emergency stop.
Real-Life Stories of Skiers Stuck on Ski
While getting stuck on a ski lift overnight is a rare occurrence, it does happen from time to time. Here are some real-life stories of skiers who have found themselves stranded mid-air.
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Vail Ski Resort, Colorado, 2020
In February 2020, a group of skiers at the Vail Ski Resort in Colorado got stuck on a ski lift for several hours after a power outage caused the lift to malfunction. It stranded the skiers in sub-zero temperatures, and many suffered frostbite and hypothermia.
Some skiers could climb down from the lift using ropes, while others had to wait for rescue teams to arrive.
Sugarloaf Ski Resort, Maine, 2010
In December 2010, a group of skiers at the Sugarloaf Ski Resort in Maine were stuck on a ski lift overnight after a cable snapped, causing the lift to stop suddenly. The skiers stayed there for over eight hours, and temperatures dropped to as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Despite the extreme conditions, authorities rescued all of the skiers safely.
Whiteface Mountain, New York, 2018
In March 2018, a family of five got stuck on a ski lift at Whiteface Mountain in New York after high winds caused the lift to shut down. The family stayed for over five hours, and temperatures dropped to as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ski patrol teams eventually rescued the family, and no one received injuries during the incident.
Sunburst Ski Area, Wisconsin, 2016
In December 2016, a group of skiers at the Sunburst Ski Area in Wisconsin got stuck on a ski lift after a mechanical malfunction caused the lift to stop running. The skiers were stranded for several hours in sub-zero temperatures before ski patrol teams rescued them.
Some of the skiers suffered from frostbite and hypothermia as a result.
Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont, 2005
In February 2005, a group of skiers at the Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont got stuck on a ski lift overnight after a cable snapped. The skiers were stranded for over nine hours before ski patrol teams rescued them. Despite the extreme conditions, all the skiers were in the end.
Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico, 2019
In January 2019, two skiers at the Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico got stuck on a ski lift after the lift malfunctioned. The skiers were stranded for several hours before a helicopter team rescued them. Unfortunately, one skier suffered a minor injury during the rescue.
Okemo Mountain Resort, Vermont, 2007
In December 2007, a group of skiers at the Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont got stuck on a ski lift overnight after a mechanical malfunction caused the lift to stop running. The skiers were stranded for over eight hours before ski patrol teams rescued them.
Aspen Highlands Ski Resort, Colorado, 2022
In January 2022, a group of skiers at the Aspen Highlands Ski Resort in Colorado got stuck on a ski lift after a power outage caused the lift to malfunction. The skiers were stranded for several hours in freezing temperatures before ski patrol teams rescued them.
What If You Get Stuck On A Ski Lift?
If you find yourself stuck on a ski lift, there are a few things you should do to stay safe and increase your chances of being rescued quickly:
- Try to remain calm and avoid panicking. Panicking can cause you to make irrational decisions and put yourself and others in danger.
- Try to stay warm by moving around and rubbing your hands and feet. You can also use any clothing or gear you have with you to insulate yourself from the cold.
- If you have one, try to contact the ski lift operator or ski patrol using your cell phone.
- If you don’t have a phone or can’t get a signal, try to signal for help by shouting or waving your arms.
While getting stuck on a ski lift overnight is rare, it can be a frightening experience. However, by understanding the causes of ski lift malfunctions and knowing what to do if you get stuck, you can stay safe and increase your chances of being rescued quickly.
As with any sport, skiing comes with risks, but with proper preparation and caution, you can enjoy all the thrills and excitement this winter sport offers.