Brake failure causes Magic Mountain shut-down
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | January 03,2013
Skiers and snowboarders make their way uphill New Year’s Day at Magic Mountain after the ski area’s red lift broke down.
LONDONDERRY — A faulty emergency brake shut down Magic Mountain’s only operating chair lift, resulting in $75,000 in lost revenues for the 3½ days the ski area was down Saturday through Tuesday, Magic Mountain officials said.
Magic Mountain’s “red” chairlift was shut down Saturday due to a lack of torque on a re-start and an emergency brake failure. The red chairlift was carrying up to 350 skiers and riders at the time of the breakdown.
The cable moved two feet in reverse before the second emergency brake kicked in, stopping it from going farther, the resort said. All skiers and riders on the lift were taken safely to the summit and the lift was shut down.
Magic Mountain President Jim Sullivan said no one was in danger when the emergency brake failed.
“We were operating with one chair and our one chair ran into a problem that was not discoverable until it happened,” Sullivan said. “We were left high and dry.”
The red chairlift is a Heron-Poma double chairlift that has been in operation since 1970. It is Magic Mountain’s longest chair lift, about 5,400 feet long. It had just passed inspection, according to Steve Monahan of the state Department of Labor’s Passenger Tramway Safety Division.
Neither Sullivan nor Monahan could explain what caused the first emergency brake to fail. They both said brake failures are an anomaly at Vermont ski areas and can be fixed in an efficient manner when they do occur.
Magic Mountain was unable to reopen for the rest of the weekend because the “black” chairlift, Magic Mountain’s other double chairlift, had not passed inspection and Magic Mountain had to order a new brake for the red lift from a company in Michigan.
Sullivan said the part arrived on New Year’s Day and was replaced Wednesday. The replacement brake cost Magic Mountain about $12,000.
He expects Magic Mountain to reopen Saturday, once the chair lift passes a rigorous inspection.
“After the installation, we’re going to do a full load test just to make sure there is absolutely no problems whatsoever,” Sullivan said. “The hurtful part of this was that it was fabulous skiing with the new snow and we were making snow more than we had in the past. The mountain was looking great, But we’ll live to fight another day.”
New Year’s is one of Magic Mountain’s most important holiday weekends of the ski and snowboard season. The others are Christmas, Martin Luther King, and President’s Day weekends.