April 05, 2020
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Hermon Mountain chairlift derails, strands skiers and snowboarders

Mike Dowd | BDN
Mike Dowd | BDN
Skiers and snowboarders wait to get on the chair lift at Hermon Mountain Ski Area.

HERMON, Maine — A chairlift derailment at Hermon Mountain Ski Area left 24 skiers and snowboarders up in the air for about a half-hour Friday night, according to the owner, who said no one was injured.

The incident occurred at 7:15 p.m., when two large adult men, both members of the mountain’s ski patrol, struggled to get into a chair and caused the cable overhead to come “off the shims,” owner Bill Whitcomb said Saturday morning.

An evacuation protocol was immediately followed, which included calling local fire departments to get stranded skiers back on the ground, according to Whitcomb. It turned out the fire departments that arrived were not needed because Whitcomb was quickly able to repair the lift, he said.

“I saw that I could fix this easily because it happened at the first tower, which is easily accessible,” Whitcomb said at the lodge, which was rapidly filling with skiers for the day. “We had it going again in about 20 minutes.”

Once the stranded skiers were down Whitcomb said he and members of the ski patrol inspected the entire lift and determined it was safe. It resumed operations Friday night. He said the lift, which has 60 chairs, was purchased refurbished and installed in 2000. It underwent a state inspection in November and is inspected by the ski patrol daily, Whitcomb said.

A message left with the state Elevator and Tramway Safety Program, which oversees lift inspections, was not immediately returned Saturday.

“This is the first time it derailed since we’ve had it,” Whitcomb said.

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