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Blue Knob skiers evacuated from stuck lift

Several skiers were evacuated from a malfunctioning ski lift Sunday at Blue Knob All Seasons Resort.

About 5 p.m. Sunday, Blue Knob’s Route 66 double chair lift tower sensors detected a problem with one of the mechanism’s gears and halted the lift in place with skiers still on board, said Donna Himes, the resort’s marketing director.

“If there is a problem with a lift’s motor, an auxillary motor will engage, allowing the skiers to get to their drop off location,” Himes said. “If the problem is with the tower, however, a safety switch flips and everything freezes in place. Essentially, what happened is everything worked as it should.”

Himes did not have a tally of how many skiers were stranded on the lift, which she said wasn’t full. All the skiers were evacuated and in the ski lodge by 8:45 p.m., and no injuries were reported.

“Our ski patrol evacuated the skiers using ropes to lower them down individually,” Himes said. “We had several teams out there working in groups of two to three until everyone was evacuated.”

While an inconvenience for skiers, the incident was an opportunity for ski patrol personnel to put recent training to use, Himes said.

On Feb. 27, Blue Knob Ski Patrol participated in a nighttime training event, rescuing stranded skiers from lift seats. While ski-lift evacuations happen in resorts across the world, Himes said the training was beneficial, because evacuations are rare at Blue Knob.

“I can’t tell you the last time we had to do a rope evacuation at Blue Knob,” she said.

Skiers evacuated from the lift were given hot drinks at the ski lodge and a free lift pass for the next time they visit, Himes said.

Skiers looking to visit the resort in coming weeks should experience little or no inconvenience as the repairs continue on the Route 66 lift, which runs from the top of the mountain to the base, Himes said.

A second double-chair lift, High Hopes, which runs parallel to the Route 66 lift, is scheduled to be operable as early as Friday, she said.

Despite the hiccup, Himes said the resort is thriving.

“All in all, it’s been a great season for us,” she said. “We weren’t sure what to expect with COVID-19, but we’ve had a lot of snow this year, which is great.”

Indoor facilities at the resort are restricted to 50 percent capacity like other businesses throughout the state, and skiers are asked to wear face masks and maintain social distancing while in line for the lift.

Outdoor ski gear lends itself well to social distancing, Himes said, since most people are already covering their faces and the equipment makes crowding difficult.

Mirror Staff Writer Ike Fredregill is at 814-946-7458.

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