Striking photos of ice-encased chairlift at Big White warm hearts on social media

Photos of the Falcon Chair at Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna, B.C., have drawn a lot of attention on Facebook. (Official Big White Group/Facebook - image credit)
Photos of the Falcon Chair at Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna, B.C., have drawn a lot of attention on Facebook. (Official Big White Group/Facebook - image credit)

An ice-encrusted chairlift at B.C.'s Big White Ski Resort became a sizzling hot social media sensation at the end of the Christmas and New Year holidays.

On Monday, the resort — about 60 kilometres east of Kelowna, B.C. — posted several photos on Facebook that feature cables, chairs and the unloading area of the Falcon Chair lift completely encased in ice and snow.

Within 24 hours, the post garnered almost 500 positive reactions, with many commenters saying they're amazed at the wintry beauty of the frozen chairlift, but also wondering how challenging it would be for staffers to clear the ice from the infrastructure.

"Some of our ops team have headed over to the Falcon Chair to see if we can start to get it cleaned up (de-iced), so we can run it as soon as snow in the unload area permits," said the post on Official Big White Group, a public page administered by the resort with more than 27,000 members.

Official Big White Group/Facebook
Official Big White Group/Facebook

De-icing could take days

Big White senior vice-president Michael J. Ballingall said the ice had accumulated on the chairlift due to a shortage of staff available for de-icing work during a busy holiday season.

He said he expects a team to take two to three days to de-ice the lift and prepare it for operation.

In a post released around noon Tuesday, the resort said maintenance workers are removing ice from three towers and the bullwheel at the unloading area.

Submitted by Michael J. Ballingall
Submitted by Michael J. Ballingall

"Still a lot of work to do there," the post said. "Add to that, we need 10 to 15 centimetres of fresh Okanagan champagne powder for the unload station."

The Falcon Chair is the only lift closed among the 15 alpine lifts across the ski resort, according to the company's website.

Ballingall said it hasn't been running since the season started in November, mostly due to an unusually low snow base around the lift.

He said the unloading area of the Falcon Chair lift normally needs 150-170 centimetres in order to get up and running. The resort reported on Tuesday that the alpine snow base is at 140 centimetres.

"Normally at this time of year, we would have 175 to 200 centimetres of snow, so that [Falcon] Chair would have been running for the busy Christmas holiday season," he said.

Big White's ski season is due to run until April 10.