Sima chairlift back in motion

Three shutdowns in six weeks, $15,000 spent on repairs, a visit by a specialist, and Mt. Sima's chairlift woes finally appear to be over.

Three shutdowns in six weeks, $15,000 spent on repairs, a visit by a specialist, and Mt. Sima’s chairlift woes finally appear to be over.

The ski resort was back operating at full capacity over the weekend with its lone chairlift up and running, “better than ever.”

“The fellow gave the lift a clean bill of health and it’s had some significant upgrades,” said Craig Hougen, president of the Great Northern Ski Society that oversees Sima’s operations.

“It’s certainly running very smoothly and very consistently.”

The chairlift swung back into motion late last week after a series of inspections, repairs and part replacements, both required and pre-emptive, completed by an electronics specialist recommended by Amptech, the California based manufacturer of the lift’s electronics system.

“We got quite a few upgrades when that fellow was here from California,” said Hougen. “He replaced parts, but he also did some tweaking of the software in the system.

“We also had a significant transfer of knowledge between the California representative and our own staff.”

Putting the chairlift’s stop-and-go season into perspective, the visiting specialist also confirmed that the previous shutdowns – the opening day breakdown that resulted in the first lift evacuation in the resort’s 17-year history, and the two over the holiday season when the lift was voluntarily shutdown due to speed fluctuations – were not related.

“They were unrelated, just coincidental in terms of timing,” said Hougen.

The December 4 breakdown on opening day was fixed with the replacement of an electrical cable and the later shutdowns with the replacement of a circuit board.

In addition to the restarting of the lift, Sima had a good weekend with 380 lift passes sold Saturday and a similar number on Sunday.

No doubt putting the Sima staff on edge were two temporary stoppages of the lifts over the weekend, both stemming from a shortage of Yukon Electric’s power supply, not technical problems with the lifts.

“We had an outstanding weekend, from an operations point of view,” said Hougen. “Everything is working well once again, so we’re delighted. We had possibly the best skiing conditions we’ve ever had up there over the weekend.”

The chairlift’s new life comes at the same time as Sima gets a new general manager. This week the ski society announced that Parker Hickey from Cornwall, Ontario, will take over the position. With two decades of experience in the industry, Hickey has worked in management roles at Mt. Tremblant and La Massif de Charlevoix resorts in Quebec and Beaver Valley Ski Club in Ontario.

Contact Tom Patrick at