As I was riding the list at Vail today, the skiers I shared a chair with discussed the partial collapse of a gondola at Whistler Blackcomb. I hadn’t heard the news, and was fascinated to hear the cause of the collapse and learn whether those conditions might apply to us.
The tower on Blackcomb Mountain’s Excalibur Gondola collapsed partially on Tuesday, December 16.
Apparently ice buildup in a gondola tower caused it to partially snap
They said that “because of extremely cold temperatures, ice buildup in the two parts of the tower that are spliced together led to a “rupture, a situation referred to as ‘ice-jacking.’””
The damaged tower was built from two large pieces of metal tubing that were welded and bolted together, but water to got inside the joint.
When the water froze, it expanded and caused the tower splice to rupture.
As we rode the lift at Vail, we examined the towers and determined that they were made of one piece, not two welded pieces of tubing. What a relief! Now I could continue to enjoy great powder skiing in Vail’s China Bowl without worrying the lift might collapse.
I wonder whether skiers will worry about riding the gondolas at Keystone or Vail after hearing about this incident?
What do you think? Would you be nervous about riding a gondola after hearing about this incident?
Please comment with your reaction about collapsing gondola towers.