Sima makes repairs after fourth chairlift breakdown

Mount Sima officials are considering compensating season-pass holders following the resort's fourth chairlift breakdown this season.

Mount Sima officials are considering compensating season-pass holders following the resort’s fourth chairlift breakdown this season.

“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 Craig Hougen, president of the Great Northern Ski Society.

The latest shutdown happened mid-afternoon on Saturday. After a five-minute stoppage, operators were able to restart the lift – not having to resort to the backup diesel motor – to evacuate occupants before shutting it down. It remained off for Sunday, while the T-bar and rope-tow remained in operation.

The breakdown was caused by a short in one of three electrical cables that run from the motor, underground where the skiers board the lift, to the control panel in the operator’s hut, according to Sima officials.

“Through freeze-thaw action, the casing has cracked, water has gotten into the cable and caused these shorts – that’s what we believe,” said Hougen.

“The second of those three cables had a short. We determined within five minutes exactly what the problem was and they finished the cabling Sunday afternoon. They ran it – without the public in it – Monday and Tuesday, and it runs fine. They fixed the problem.

“Now all the cables have been replaced.

“I know we have said this before, but we have solved the problem,” he added.

Not counting these latest repairs, Sima has spent $15,000 fixing the lift this season. That includes visits from specialists from the lift’s manufacturer in Seattle and the lift’s electronics manufacturer in California, a visit that ended barely a week ago.

The troubleshooter gave the lift a “clean bill of health,” according to a media release issued by the Great Northern Ski Society.

A short in an electrical cable caused previous shutdowns.

A breakdown on December 4, Sima’s opening day, forced the first lift evacuation in the resort’s 17-year history.

It was fixed by a cable replacement.

It is not clear if this latest disruption is related to a previous repair or problem.

To the best of Hougen’s knowledge, only two season ticket holders have asked to be compensated – not fully refunded – for the sporadic lift service.

However, that’s not to say the ski society won’t consider some sort of compensation for season ticket holders when the overall season’s success, or the lack thereof, is clearer.

“We are going to take care of our season pass holders, it’s just a little early to make an assessment,” said Hougen.

Weather permitting, Mt. Sima will resume regular operations on Thursday. As scheduled, starting this weekend it will be open Thursday to Monday until the March break. It will also be open until 3:30 p.m. to capitalize on increased daylight hours.

“We’ve pulled out all the stops and used all the resources at our disposal to track down the issues, and we do hope this is our last issue for the season,” said Hougen. “You might say some of the best skiing of the year is still ahead of us. The days are getting longer, the temperature will gradually get warmer and we probably have the best snow-year we’ve ever had in the history of Mt. Sima.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

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