Mt. Sima suffers fifth lift failure

The T-bar and rope-pull were the only way up once again at Mt. Sima as the hill suffered its fifth chairlift shutdown of the season over the weekend. Not even a week after its previous failure, the lift was down Thursday through Sunday due to "internal fluid loss" caused by a faulty electrical coil.

The T-bar and rope-pull were the only way up once again at Mt. Sima as the hill suffered its fifth chairlift shutdown of the season over the weekend.

Not even a week after its previous failure, the lift was down Thursday through Sunday due to “internal fluid loss” caused by a faulty electrical coil.

“Our feeling is it’s another electrically caused problem because we did find electrical problems that probably caused that leak,” said Parker Hickey, Mt. Sima’s new general manager, who started this week. “Without getting too technical, it’s a valve that opens and closes with an electrical coil and the coil had failed. That led us to believe that it was an electrical problem.”

Slowing the effort to make repairs, Sima received the wrong replacement part on Monday. It was sent a 12-volt coil, instead of a 24-volt one.

“We’re getting the right piece, supposedly, tonight,” said Hickey. “It will not be open tomorrow. My best guess is we can have it up and running on Friday. The piece should come in tonight.

“We’re pretty remote here and you sometimes have to go to suppliers who are a long way away.”

The beleaguered resort has had a tough season from the get-go, suffering a chairlift breakdown on opening day, causing the first chairlift evacuation in Sima’s 17-year history.

That breakdown and following ones were chalked up to other electrical difficulties, resulting in the replacement of electrical cables, repairs on circuit boards and even a visit from a chairlift drive specialist, flown in from California, recommended by the lift’s electronics manufacturer.

“We have a small but dedicated team that’s handling this problem and they’ve been working their butts off,” said Hickey. “We want this lift up and running reliably and we’re working hard to do that.

“I’m new here, but I’m willing to take ownership of getting these problems fixed and supporting these guys the best way I can. If it means bringing in other specialists, we’ll bring other specialists in and get this problem licked.”

After the previous shutdown of the chairlift, Great Northern Ski Society president Craig Hougen admitted that once a better picture of the season can be seen, the society will consider compensating season pass holders for lost time.

“We are very aware and concerned about the amount of closures due to the mechanical issues we’ve had this year, and towards the end of the skiing season the board of Sima will make a determination as to the fair thing to do,” said Hougen.

However, for some, Sima has a lot of ground to make up. Not only are the closures costing pass holders time on the slopes, the threat of getting stuck on the lift in the event of another breakdown is not inviting.

“It’s really disappointing, especially since the weather has been really good,” said season pass holder Tara Klippert. “Since the lift broke down the first time and people got stuck on it, everyone is nervous to ride it again. The fact that it broke down another five times or so since doesn’t help.

“I definitely wouldn’t buy a seasons pass next year, at least not until they get some major work done on the lift, or have it replaced.

“Sima should have upgraded their chair lift first before upgrading their facilities. I mean the bar is awesome, but not if you can’t ride.”

Up to date information on the lift, as well as snow conditions, can be heard daily at Sima’s “snow line” at 667-7547.

Contact Tom Patrick at

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