Chairlift runs backward at Big Squaw


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  1. #1

    Chairlift runs backward at Big Squaw

    Last night on WTKK 96.9 FM Talk in Boston, I heard a news report about a chair running backwards at Big Squaw, causing another chair to drop.

    Thank God I have never experienced a chair lift accident.

  2. #2

    Not good...

    They showed us (Belleayre Patrollers) a video of some testing which went on out in CA somewhere on chairlifts. They had a lift which was being retired so they wanted to stress it to see what it could take. Let me tell you, it was scary to watch.

    In the most dramatic test, they showed what would happen if the motor for the lift failed, the brake failed and the backup brake all at once. The chair starts to go backward, speeding up quite quickly. They had loaded the chairs with weights to simulate people on the chairs and they were thrown quite a ways at the bottom. Many chairs broke off. It was a bit scary. I can tell you I would most-likely jump if I was on a lift and it began to go backwards. I'd take my chances there rather than wait to be thrown off the bottom.

    I believe they had an accident like this at Hunter a few years ago. They are just ugly when they happen...
    The Rickster

  3. #3
    I heard the radio today. Apparently, what happened is that one of the chairs broke loose from the cable and slid backwards, down the cable, as it was running forward. When it hit the chair behind it, it fell off. 4 people went to the hospitle, 3 are out, and 1 is serious. The lift is closed pending investigation and repair. This is really sad for the injured parties and it could impact Big Squaw's ability to operate in the future. They are having a lousy season this year, not much snow. Fer sure, they'll be checking the torque specs real soon.
    lovin life,


  4. #4

  5. #5
    Wow, what was that link? My firewall at work said no way, you can't go there.
    I am having ski withdrawels. I need to ski very badly. Calgon, take me away![/quote]
    Pray for Snow

  6. #6
    Ryan B
    I believe the incident you are referring to is a grip failure. This 36 year old lift is a Italian manufacturer that is no longer in business. This lift did not go "backwards" as speculated in other posts.
    For further information on grip failures, inspections, agency requirements for grip checking and other lift technology and maintenance topics you can visit

    Ryan B

  7. #7

    chairlift running backwards

    The video that Gadget Rick is talking about is exactly what I am looking for. It was the first ever destructive test of a chairlift. The lift was the old Eskimo lift in Winter Park, Colorado, and happened in 86 or 87. I was involved as a representative of the local fire dept (EGFPD #4). The tests were developed by Dan Striklin and Bill Chambers, both of the Winter Park Lift Maintenence Staff, and representatives of various lift manufacturers, insurance companies, and tramway regulatory agencies. The tests were conducted with concrete weights loaded onto the chairs to simulate a fully loaded line. The tests included felling trees onto the haulrope with the lift running at full speed, bashing into towers with a bulldozer, cable derailments, and a full unbraked rollback. The final test was setting the motor room on fire with the line fully loaded (with weights) and the lift running at full speed. I was telling a friend about the experience and was trying to find an accounting and maybe some some video of this on the net, but so far I've had no luck. Can anyone help, I'd love to see the video again. By the way I was standing about 100' away from the drive terminal when the haulrope snapped due to the heat of the fire.

  8. #8

    I'll check

    I PMed you to have you to send me an email around Oct 21 as we have our refresher weekend at Belleayre (YIPPEE!!) that weekend. I'll check to see where they got that video.

    They also showed them try and break the towers by hooking a crane up and pulling it over. Very cool since the towers can take a LOT. If I remember correctly, the tower actually uprooted before breaking.
    The Rickster

  9. #9

    Re: Not good...

    Quote Originally Posted by GadgetRick

    I believe they had an accident like this at Hunter a few years ago. They are just ugly when they happen...
    I think you are thinking about Big Tupper. They had a roll back in the 89 season. It was midweek and going on memory only a few people on the lift. The brake failed and the backup brake was a bar dropping into the bullwheel, which was packed full of snow and ice. Again by memory it rolled back 800 feet and at least one chair with people went around.

  10. #10
    I recall a rollback accident at Jimminy Peak on the Riblet chair around 1976?

    Especially nasty as the lower bull wheel was elevated

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