Steamboat Ski Patrol trains for rare, worst-case scenario (with video) |

Steamboat Ski Patrol trains for rare, worst-case scenario (with video)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS —Just after the Christie Peak Express chairlift closed Thursday, and skiers at Steamboat Resort were making their last turns of the day, members of Steamboat Ski Patrol went to work.

“These days, with all this new equipment and stuff, there are very few reasons why we would actually have to evacuate a chair,” said Ski Patrol Director Wes Richey. “But it’s still possible, so that’s why we prepare.”

After the lifts stopped running for the day, Ski Patrol members posed as stranded skiers and riders for the training session.

On the ground, Ski Patrol crews located the stranded skiers and went to work using guide lines, ropes and T-seats to safely lower them from the chairs to the ground.

“We hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” Richey said.

He said it’s rare for skiers or boarders to get stranded on a chairlift, and he’s only seen it a couple of times in his 33-year career. The last time he can recall a chairlift had to be evacuated was in 2007 when a mechanical failure shut down Storm Peak Express. About 70 guests were stranded, and it took Ski Patrol about two hours to get people off the lift.

Ski patrolman Chris McCormack works to rescue stranded skiers during lift evacuation training on Christie Peak chairlift at Steamboat Resort. (Photo by John F. Russell)
Wes Parks secures a line passed from the top of the lift by fellow Steamboat Ski Patrol’s Alex Hopkins during a lift evacuation training session at Steamboat Resort Thursday afternoon. (Photo by John F. Russell)
Steamboat ski patroller Alex Hopkins participates in a lift evacuation exercise during a training session Thursday afternoon at Steamboat Resort. (Photo by John F. Russell)
Steamboat Ski Patrol member Chris McCormack tightens a rope to a lift evacuation seat during a training session at Steamboat Resort on Thursday afternoon.(Photo by John F. Russell)

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