Davis, WV – A mechanical failure on one of Timberline Resort’s chairlifts caused the lift to derail on Saturday morning, tossing 25 riders an estimated 20 feet to the ground below.
The incident occurred on Timberline’s Thunderstruck lift, a Borvig triple chairlift. The cross-arm on the chairlift’s tower #12 separated from the vertical portion of the tower and fell to the ground.
“The cross-arm which supported the cables along which the lift chairs travel detached from the tower structure, causing a derailment,” Timberline officials have confirmed. “This occurred after the lift had passed visual safety inspection and was cleared for operation.”
It took ski patrol roughly two hours to evacuate all other riders from the lift, numbering nearly 100. Of the 25 riders who fell to the ground, nine were checked for injury and two were transported to area hospitals with non-life threatening injuries.
“In our 30 year history, Timberline has never had a lift failure resulting in injury or in any way comparable to today’s malfunction, and the resort will continue to investigate the cause of this incident to ensure the safety of our skiers,” ski area officials posted to Facebook.
Timberline officials have been hard at work this week to repair the broken lift, which was installed at Timberline in the mid-1980s.
“We have assembled a world-class team of manufacturers, engineers, and safety inspectors who have been working diligently since the event took place to assess and repair the lift, with multiple levels of oversight at every step in the process,” they indicate. “We are requesting that these same experts do a thorough inspection of our other lifts as well, even though they are performing properly. We anticipate all inspections and load testing to be completed, and for Thunderstruck triple lift to be fully operational by Saturday morning.”
The incident at Timberline prompted an examination this week of all Borvig lift towers installed in Vermont. While lifts at Mount Snow and Stratton Mountain checked out, cracks were found where the cross-arm meets the tower on one of the two chairlifts at Suicide Six ski area in Woodstock. That lift has been closed as a precaution as repairs are being made. State lift inspectors will reinspect Suicide Six’ lift before it is allowed to reopen.