Helicopters rescue 160 people after storm strands them at top of Jasper Skytram
Approximately 160 people were stuck at the top station on the Jasper Skytram Monday when a sudden storm knocked out the lift’s power.
In a statement, Ski Marmot said the storm interrupted the Skytram’s power, which affected an electrical circuit board on the lift.
“We had a fairly sudden storm blow in,” said Brian Rode, vice-president of marketing and sales for Marmot Basin Ski Area and Jasper Skytram. “There [were] power surges, lights flickering.”
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The Skytram could not continue operating, the company said, and about 160 passengers and staff were left at the top station.
Jasper Skytram and Parks Canada started a helicopter evacuation but couldn’t quite rescue everyone before night fell.
“Approximately 110 people were lifted off the mountain before darkness fell,” the statement reads.
“The helicopter evacuation resumed at 6:30 a.m. on June 26 and all guests and staff were safely evacuated by 10:30 a.m.”
There were no injuries of any kind, according to the statement.
A woman visiting Alberta from London, Ont. told Global News about what happened when she became stuck.
“We went up to the top of the summit and then we got a call from my boyfriend’s mom who told us to come down because it was going to storm,” Kayla Roy said. “We were probably about 30 seconds away from making it on to the last gondola before it broke down… about two hours later, we were told it was a mechanical problem.”
Roy ended up being stuck for seven hours. She said the first helicopter evacuation saw children and the elderly be taken down and her group was next, taking a helicopter at about 10 p.m.
“Those who spent the night at the top of the Jasper Skytram were well taken care of with food, drink, blankets and pillows supplied.”
Rode said it appeared to him that most of the people who were stuck overnight made the best of the situation.
“They all came off the helicopters with grins on their faces,” he said. “I think they viewed it as quite an adventure.”
Roy said “the company handled it extremely well.”
“I thought it was a fine day — we got free food from them and chocolates and candies and they gave us snacks and stuff to do so… I thought it was awesome,” she said. “They gave us all blanket… we saw people taking naps.
“Nobody seemed upset or angry or panicky.”
In September 2017, about 100 people spent up to four hours stuck at the top of a mountain in Jasper National Park after the Jasper SkyTram was shut down due to high winds.
Rode said the only other helicopter evacuation occurred in 2010.
“We plan for these types of things and we have protocols in place which is why the operation went quite smoothly,” he said. “I think a lot of people are going to go home with a story they can share that many of their friends won’t have.”
A message on the Jasper Skytram website said it was closed June 26 and June 27.
Rode said he hoped the Skytram would be operational again by Thursday. He said while the issue with the circuit board has never come up before, he’s confident the manufacturer will figure out what happened.
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