Gondola collapses at Whistler Blackcomb
Posted by sibylle in skiing, Canada and PNW (Friday December 19, 2008 at 8:15 pm)

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.

1 comment for Gondola collapses at Whistler Blackcomb »

  1. Keystone’s famous lift “incident” occurred in 1985, when a bullwheel collapsed on the Teller Lift (now the location of the Ruby Express chair). There might have been more fatalities, if it were not for a bunch of doctors attending a CME meeting there who happened to be at the top of the mountain.

    The lift was made by YAN, and the accident put that company out of business. YAN also made the original River Run gondola, which was immediately taken out of service for the season and replaced by the gondola that was in turn replaced by this season’s new gondola.

    For pictures and an account of the accident, see http://www.coloradoskihistory.com/chairlift/yan3.html

    Claire @ http://travel-babel.blogspot.com

    Comment by Claire Walter — December 20, 2008 @ 11:56 am

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