'I was terrified': Skiers need to be rescued after chairlift malfunction at Poley Mountain

A team helps to evacuate skiiers from the alpine chairlift at Poley Mountain on Friday. (Submitted by Angie Titus - image credit)
A team helps to evacuate skiiers from the alpine chairlift at Poley Mountain on Friday. (Submitted by Angie Titus - image credit)

When Angie Titus of Hampton, N.B., agreed to don skis for the first time in 17 years, she didn't anticipate being evacuated from a chairlift.

Titus and her sister decided to wind up March break with a day of skiing at Poley Mountain, near Sussex, on Friday.

But their day on the slopes ended when the chairlift they were on came to a stop and they were told they would have to be evacuated by rope.

Titus estimates they were on the lift for a little over an hour before being evacuated, and had started to get cold.

Submitted by Angie Titus
Submitted by Angie Titus

"I was terrified," she said. "I don't do well with heights. Like, a roller-coaster wouldn't bother me because I feel like I'm secured, but the chairlifts don't feel as secure. That's my least favourite part of skiing."

She said chairlifts often stop and start to let skiers on or off. But after several minutes, they saw a person in a first aid uniform on a snowmobile go up the hill, followed shortly by another person on a snowmobile.

Concern grew

She assumed someone was injured and they stopped the lift to assist the person. But Titus became more concerned when another skier on the lift suggested the second snowmobile could be a repair person.

A person on the second snowmobile stopped at each seat on the lift on his way down to explain the situation.

Ski hill staff members threw a rope over the cable that included a t-bar and seat that they raised close to their seats on the lift.

As the person in the middle of the lift, Titus was asked to go first. She had to grab the bar, pull it under the chairlift bar and squeeze the seat under herself.

Once she had it arranged, the other two skiers had to hold the back of their seats and lift the chairlift bar so Titus could drop out and be lowered slowly to the snow below.

WATCH | Skier evacuated from alpine chairlift at Poley Mountain

"I felt secure enough once I dropped down," said Titus. "But the little thing that they use to get you down doesn't look very secure. Like, it doesn't look like much, but once you're on it, you feel pretty safe."

Titus praised the teams of people involved with the evacuation, saying they were calm, organized and had clearly practised this type of evacuation.

Back in operation

When asked whether she will ski again, she said she thinks so.

"When I was up there, I'm like, I think this just ruined skiing for me," said Titus. "But then once I got down I was like, no, other than being a little chilly up there and losing an hour of the day, the getting-down part wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be."

Poley Mountain posted on their social media that just before 2 p.m. Friday they experienced an "incident" at the top of the alpine chairlift, triggering an emergency shutdown.

The post said the chairlift had been repaired. A subsequent post confirmed it was inspected and back in operation on Saturday.