Snowbowl’s Lift Breaks

Audrey Warren, reporter

     Montana Snowbowl has been open for 2 weeks, and has been working hard to make their newest lift ready for use. However, Snowbowl is now on a bit of a delay, given one of the main lift’s wires frayed. Luckily, no one was hurt, but it is a major set back in the opening of Snowbowl’s new lift.

     On January 1st, 2020, one of the Lavelle lift’s wires frayed, and all riders on the lift were evacuated by Snowbowl’s ski patrol. That morning, Snowbowl’s lifts opened normally at 9:30 a.m., and loaded all of their customers up to enjoy the fresh foot of snow the mountain got over the night. Many Missoula citizens showed up to enjoy the fresh powder that had greeted Snowbowl throughout the night. 

     As everyone made their way up to the top of the mountain, around 10:30 a.m., a pair of skiers began to exit the lift. One of the riders got off at the right time, however the other one got off late, causing the lift to roughly swing around the bull wheel. This has happened to the chair lifts many times before, however never this violently. As the chair swung around the bull wheel as violently as it did, it caused the chair lift to derail, and the chair to fall off the wire. 

     “This was a new wire, and had no issues. This wire did pass the load test in the fall. Simply, this was someone getting off the lift too late, and causing the lift to violently swing around the bull wheel,”said Pat McKay, Snowbowl manager. Snowbowl had to fly in a professional to help fix it, because the Snowbowl team does not have the technical skills to fix the wire. “Two to three weeks minimue to fix this lift is what we are estimating,” McKay said. Given that the lift is not fully damaged, Snowbowl is thinking that they can splice the section of the cable that is broken, rather then having to replace it, which would take the entire season to fix.

     Overall, Snowbowl has had a rough start to the ski season, with opening 2 weeks later than they were supposed to, having lots of electrical issues including the ability to blow snow, and then the Lavelle lift’s cable fraying. However, the recent foot of snow they got will hopefully help Snowbowl continue to have a steady season.