Skiers evacuated of Cascade chairlift by rope |

Skiers evacuated of Cascade chairlift by rope

Veronica Whitney
NWS Cascade Rescue BH 3-22 Vail Daily/Bret Hartman Andrew Shack, Rob Hessdorf, and Jeff Spencer are in good spirits Monday after being rescued from Chair Nine near Cascade Village.

Nine people were safely evacuated by rope from the Cascade chairlift in Vail on Monday afternoon, Vail Mountain officials said.

The triple chairlift, chair number 20, stopped at about 3:30 p.m. because of a mechanical and electrical failure in the main and standby drive.

“It took approximately one hour to trouble shoot and determined that the lift wouldn’t run,” said Jen Brown, Vail Mountain spokeswoman. “At that point, Vail ski patrol initiated a rope evacuation which was made especially difficult due to the warm temperatures an tricky snow conditions. We extend our apologies to the people who had to be evacuated.”

It took ski patrol about two hours to evacuate the skiers. Brown said the Cascade chairlift will not be operating this morning.

Robert Hessdorf, 42, of New York City, was among those who were evacuated.

“We were taking the lift down when it stopped close to tower 15, half way down the lift. It was pretty scary,” Hessdorf said. “Ski patrol came and told us that something failed with the chairlift and this was the last resort. They tried to make the chair move, but it didn’t work.”

About 15 ski patrollers assisted in the evacuation, Hessdorf said.

“They threw a rope over the cable and then they made a pulley; they harnessed us in and then we sat on a wooden feet part of the harness and then they lowered us down about 70 feet,” he said. “The ski patrollers did a fantastic job, they were very professional.”

But once he touched the ground, the adventure wasn’t yet over, Hessdorf said.

“Then, we had to walk down the steep terrain in mud, snow, and ice,” he said. “We were finishing our ski vacation, we are leaving tomorrow. And this was more exciting than skiing a black diamond.”

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at

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