Thank you to the Winter Park Ski Patrol |

Thank you to the Winter Park Ski Patrol

Staff members of the Sky-Hi Daily News were on the mountain Sunday when the Pioneer Express lift was evacuated.

The winds were blowing sideways, full of blinding ice ” sustained gusts blasted skiers at 30, 50 and 60 miles an hour.

The winds were quickly stripping the slopes of skiers and closing the lifts one by one as wind gauges hit their thresholds and the resort made safety decision to close down the rest.

As the lifts closed and we headed inside to warm up, word was quickly spreading that something had gone wrong with the Pioneer lift.

Someone fell, we heard. (We later found out a man and woman fell, but not very far and there were no injuries.)

The Pioneer stopped running and the Winter Park Ski Patrol moved into place to conduct the first lift evacuation since 1990.

It took hours to safely lower 115 passengers and transport them to a warm place.

Twelve teams belayed skiers and riders off the lift using ropes and rescue chairs.

It’s an exercise patrollers practice on a regular basis ” staying prepared for an event that has only happened once in 17 years.

Since Sunday’s incident, we have received several calls from people who were involved in the incident to let us know how pleased they are with the level of professionalism on the part of the ski patrol during Sunday’s crisis.

Because they were prepared, no one was hurt. And, at least from the calls we received, it seems that no one was traumatized by the event as rescuers stayed calm, working safely and efficiently.

We just want to take this space in the newspaper to thank every member of the Winter Park Ski Patrol for everything they do on a daily basis to keep the mountain safe and for the things they do on those extraordinary occasions when they are called on to do extraordinary things.

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