Latest chairlift malfunction still a mystery

Mt. Sima's chairlift woes just won't end. The chairlift was shut down again when surges in speed were detected before the hill opened on Saturday.

Mt. Sima’s chairlift woes just won’t end.

The chairlift was shut down again when surges in speed were detected before the hill opened on Saturday.

The cause has not yet been identified. But it’s not for a lack of trying.

Currently, Sima is working with the lift’s installers in Seattle and the electronics design company in California, searching for the culprit.

“We have people in Whitehorse, we have people in Seattle, and we have people in California all working on the problem,” said Craig Hougen, president of the Great Northern Ski Society, which oversees Sima’s operations.

At this point it is not known if this recent surging problem is related to the two previous shutdowns of the lift this winter, the first of which (caused when the backup motor failed to start) forced the first chairlift evacuation in the resort’s 17-year history.

The second came shortly after Christmas when the lift’s speed began to fluctuate.

Both incidents were tracked back to faulty electrical connections.

Last Saturday’s shutdown of the lift came after two uninterrupted days of operation.

“It was the same problem, which was a variation of speed,” said Hougen. “It’s essentially fairly minor – it’s not rocketing up and down. There’s a surge and it’s not supposed to be there, so we couldn’t open to the public.

“We will not reopen (the chairlift) until the problem is resolved.”

Cutting no corners, the ski society is flying in an expert recommended by the electronics manufacturer from California Friday to find the problem, fix it and make a full diagnosis to be included in a report.

“The installers contract out the electronics, so we’ve gone straight to them,” said Hougen.

“I’m totally thrilled, I thought this guy was going to come Monday.

“The board has asked him to give a complete assessment of our lift, to make any necessary repairs and provide certification that the lift is repaired and will run normally.”

Weather permitting, Mt. Sima will be open this weekend with its T-bar and rope-tow operating. With chilly temperatures in the forecast, those hoping to get in some runs this weekend are recommended to phone Sima’s Snow Line, which is updated daily at (867) 667-7547.

Contact Tom Patrick at

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