Gondola malfunctions at Canadian ski resort, trapping more than 60 people | VailDaily.com

Gondola malfunctions at Canadian ski resort, trapping more than 60 people

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta – A ski gondola at Canada’s famed Lake Louise resort malfunctioned on Sunday, trapping about 65 people on board as darkness fell and temperatures dropped below freezing.One of the safety switches on the gondola tripped following the World Cup super-G race on the mountain, leaving the skiers stranded above the resort, said Rick Werner, operations manager at Lake Louise Mountain resort. He compared the malfunction to a flat tire and said officials were attempting to fix it.There was no immediate word on injuries.Eight teams of ski patrollers attached self-propelled pulley units to the gondola’s cable to reach the individual cabins, officials said. They then hooked cables and harnesses around the trapped passengers before lowering them to the ground.The evacuees were taken off the mountain by snowmobile or snow cat.Daniel Ulmer and Ralf Schmeckenbecher, German photographers who were riding the gondola after covering the World Cup races, said they were stuck for more than 4 1/2 hours.”We had barely gotten on the gondola when it stopped,” Schmeckenbecher said, adding their rescuer “came down the pulley thing like James Bond.”Derek Goodbrand, 22, of Calgary, who was also trapped, said he was bored until the rescue started. “It was really fun being lowered in the harness,” he said.Michael Guiffre, a cardiologist whose 15- and 10-year old sons were among those on the gondola, said the rescue plan was only initiated after people had been stuck for two hours.”I’m very unhappy,” he said. “They’ve had not fluids, no food, no external source of heat. They’re at risk for hypothermia.”

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