Chairlift 5 at Whitefish Mountain Resort was halted on December 29th at 12:15 p.m. due to mechanical issues. Consequently, 140 guests were left stranded on the inoperable lift while the Whitefish maintenance team sprung into action. The culprit behind the incident was the bullwheel liner. In every chairlift there are at least two terminals and they contain a bullwheel, which serve as a giant pulley. Within the bullwheel is a liner that typically needs to be replaced every 5-10 years due to wear, however, it is unclear what went awry with Whitefish’s bullwheel liner.
When it became evident that the repair wasn’t going to be timely ski patrol quickly began evacuating the lift. It was a task much easier said than done since ski patrollers were forced to navigate dangerous cliff bands in order to safely lower guests to the ground. According to a Whitefish Press release, the last passenger was unloaded at 3:37 p.m., roughly two hours after the rescue operation began. The chair was quickly repaired on December 30th and has been operating normally since Monday, December 31st.