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Whitefish Mountain Resort's newest chairlift resumes running after maintenance team undergoes training

by ADRIAN KNOWLER
Daily Inter Lake | February 6, 2023 2:40 PM

Following a rope evacuation and several day shutdown of the new Snow Ghost Express chairlift, the conveyance is spinning again at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

The resort reopened the chairlift, also known as Chair 4, Sunday morning following a training session with engineers from the lift’s manufacturer, Leitner-Poma.

In a statement released last week, resort president Nick Polumbus attributed the delay in restarting Chair 4 to the resort’s desire to get their mechanics adequate training from Leitner-Poma. Polumbus said that labor shortages and other challenges hampered Leitner-Poma in delivering the accustomed “comprehensive support and training,” but that the company was sending two engineers to Big Mountain to help.

The mechanics have now been trained, and the resort says they believe they’ve addressed the issues that have come up so far with the new lift.

“Our lift maintenance team is feeling significantly more comfortable working on Chair 4, which is more complex than our other chairs,” said resort spokesperson Chad Sokol.

“More time and experience with the machinery will improve operations moving forward,” he said.

The resort made the decision to stop the lift and evacuate around 150 skiers and snowboarders Feb. 1 to handle an issue with the chairlift’s braking mechanisms, according to Polumbus.

Ski patrol and resort employees spent the next several hours lowering guests down from the chairs using ropes and belay devices, with everybody safely on the ground by 12:40 p.m.

Chair 4 remained closed from then until the beginning of the ski day on Sunday.

The lift, which opened Dec. 30, is the resort’s largest by capacity, carrying up to six skiers or snowboarders per chair.

Reporter Adrian Knowler can be reached at 758-4407 or aknowler@dailyinterlake.com.

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