Cypress Mountain's new chairlift plummets to the ground following emergency helicopter drop

A helicopter lifting components of Cypress Mountain's new chairlift into place was forced to make an emergency drop of its load over the weekend, causing a large tower head to unexpectedly plunge to the ground below.

While nobody was injured in the incident, a full replacement of the piece is required, potentially bringing delays to the ski resort's project.

A statement released by Cypress Mountain said the emergency release occurred when a fog bank moved "quickly and unexpectedly" into the work zone, causing a helicopter pilot to exit the fog and jettison the load so it was able to safely reposition to an area with greater visibility.

"Due to the pilot’s quick actions and experienced response during the emergency situation, no injuries were experienced," the statement read. "Work on the site was temporarily suspended and due to the nature of the incident, WorkSafeBC and aviation authorities are performing follow-up investigations."

Russell Chamberlain, president and general manager of Cypress Mountain, assured the incident would not cause any delays to the opening of the ski lift – penned for the end of this year.

“Safety protocols were strictly followed, and the critical and fortunate outcome is that no one was injured," he said. "We expect this incident will alter the schedule, but not in a way that causes an actual setback in timing."

Earlier this year, it was announced that the ski resort, located in the southern section of Cypress Provincial Park in West Vancouver, would be replacing its old double chair with a "SkyQuad" Quad Chair made by international manufacturer Doppelmayr.

It is planned to have a loading carpet to automatically guide skiers and riders to the chairs, a four-minute ride time and a capacity of 1,800 riders per hour.

Cypress Mountain said Doppelmayr has hurried the delivery of a new tower head assembly and they are "confident that they will have the chairlift on the upper slopes of Mt. Strachan fully operational and ready to welcome skiers and riders by mid-December."

Worksafe BC and the Transportation Safety Board have been contacted for comment.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News' Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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Mina Kerr-Lazenby, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News