Some guests at Kicking Horse Resort got an unexpected thrill when an electrical failure shut down the gondola and a helicopter lift evacuation was performed. Pro-patrol were forced to perform lift evacuations by helicopter using harnesses and rope, dozens of metres above the treetops and snowy peak, to airlift guests to safety.
Kody Lapointe, 16, was one of those airlifted off the gondola with his dad, Manny. Lapointe, who uploaded the video of his rescue to YouTube, said he and his dad were “insanely excited” after realizing they’d be rescued by helicopter.
“They dropped the rescue down on top of our gondola and he put us in parachute-type things, hooked us to the rope and off we went out the door up in the air,” he said over email.
The short trip took him high over the mountain resort just as the sun was setting, dropping him and his father off at the hilltop lodge.
“We would like to thank the rescuers for their amazing efforts and their efficiency in getting us, as well as everyone else, to safety as quickly as possible,” said Pro-patrol ‘practise like crazy’ for challenge like this
An electrical transformer went down around 3 p.m., said Matt Mosteller, a spokesman for hill owner Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.
“We went through all of the safety procedures and protocol on the lift, and because of the transformer, the way it blew, it also blew all of the restart safety mechanisms,” he said.
“So we then decided the best plan of action was to follow our emergency evacuation. So we started evacuation of the lift at 4 p.m.”
The shutdown comes days after the Goat’s Eye chairlift at Sunshine Village was evacuated.
Mosteller says this hasn’t happened before, at least not under the current ownership, but that it’s something the Pro-patrol train for.
“That’s a very highly skilled routine. You can’t just do that overnight. You’ve got to practise like crazy to make sure it’s done right,” he said.
“The plan is to have the gondola operational this week–people should check the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort snow report for updates,” said Mosteller.