Sima open Thursday, chairlift starts up Friday

Electricians have determined the cause of the breakdown of Mt.

Electricians have determined the cause of the breakdown of Mt. Sima’s chairlift – and the failure of the lift’s backup diesel motor – that forced the evacuation of about 150 skiers and snowboarders during opening day on December 4.

According to a media release, after stopping the chairlift to help a young skier, the chairlift would not restart when a “fault occurred in the electrical cable connecting the two control panels resulting in two circuit boards failing. When that occurred, all safety systems tied into the lift were automatically engaged.”

The release goes on to say, “The failure of this type of cable is rare, and with the replacement of the cable, it is extremely unlikely to occur again.”

With a new electrical cable and additional circuit boards being installed Thursday, in what Great Northern Ski Society president Craig Hougen calls, “a simple process,” Sima hopes to be open with all lifts running this weekend starting Friday.

“Everything is on schedule, now it just becomes weather dependent,” said Hougen. “We’ll be ready to open, let’s put it that way.”

The resort had hoped to restart use of the chairlift on Thursday, however, a delay in shipping of the electrical cable has pushed it back a day. Nonetheless, Sima will be open Thursday (weather permitting) with its T-bar lifts running. (The chairlift’s reopening is also delayed by 36 hours of testing to ensure it is functioning properly.)

While the evacuation itself was deemed a success by Hougen, getting all but a couple off in 2.5 hours and achieving the total evacuation in 3.5 hours, the Ski Society and Sima staff are reviewing a list of about 50 possible improvement ideas.

“The list is not complete, we’re doing a number of things that, for the sake of brevity, we didn’t put on the website,” said Hougen. “There’s definitely a long list of changes we’re making.

“There’s a number of things we’re changing on the evacuation side that were not on the press release or on the website.”

Among the procedural changes is initiating a head count of people on the lift to make sure all are accounted for and shutting down the T-bars to concentrate available resources to an evacuation.

In addition to the procedural changes, Sima is also getting new equipment, such as kits with blankets and “Hot Shot” handwarmers for each of the lift’s chairs, more ropes for evacuation and guns that can shoot rescue ropes over the lifts’ towers.

This summer it was announced Sima will soon become a year-round attraction with the addition an adventure park, made possible by a $1,555,880 injection by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

Sima did offer cyclists downhill mountain biking for the first time this summer. In a situation not too different from December 4, the lift’s electric engine, which was not designed for summer temperatures, overheated. To correct the problem, Sima used the diesel motor for the rest of the summer months, relying on the electric engine as a backup.

Contact Tom Patrick at

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