The $6.2 million, six-passenger Creekside Gondola Whistler Mountain announced last month won’t be the only replacement of a Lift Engineering chair this summer.
Park City Ski Area announced last month it will be replacing a Lift Engineering chair with a six-passenger Garavanta C-Tec high-speed chair, the first of its kind in western North America.
The Prospector chair, installed in 1989, was shut down for four days this past winter for inspection of the Yan grip mechanisms for cracks. The inspection was prompted after minute cracks were found in the Yan 7 grips of a Lift Engineering chair at Silver Star in February. Whistler Mountain shut down its Green Express and Redline lifts, which use the Yan 7 grip, for inspection at the same time. Some of the Redline and Green chairs were removed from the lift.
A Park City spokesman said the decision to replace the Lift Engineering lift was a reliability issue.
In February Fibreboard, which owns the Sierra-at-Tahoe and Northstar ski areas in California, announced it would replace its Lift Engineering-manufactured high speed chairs. Fibreboard said it had lost confidence in the Yan 7 and Yan 11 grips.
David Perry, Whistler Mountain’s director of marketing, said earlier that most ski operators who have lifts with Yan 7 grips are getting together this summer to come up with a solution to the problem of cracks in the grips.
All 24 lifts in North America that use the Yan 7 grip mechanism replaced the mechanism with new grips at the recommendation of Lift Engineering last fall. In February cracks were found in the new grips on the Silver Star lift and all lifts were re-inspected. Park City retrofitted its lift with the original grips at that time.
Engineers inspecting Whistler’s lifts determined that the cracks in the new grips, which are a cast metal, were due to a manufacturing defect.
Whistler Mountain’s Quicksilver lift used a Yan 11 grip mechanism. The mountain has maintained that the Dec. 23 accident on the Quicksilver, in which four chairs fell to the ground and two people died, is a different issue from the cracked Yan 7 grips. A coroner’s investigation into the Quicksilver accident has not been completed and no cause of the accident has been determined.
Whistler Mountain announced April 16 that it would replace the Quicksilver lift with a six-passenger, high-speed gondola manufactured by Poma of America.