Safety at Whaleback is our number one concern especially when we are putting people in the air on the chairlift. In addition to all of the off season maintenance, we have to prepare for the worst and train ourselves and our staff to be able to carry out a safe and successful lift evacuation. Lead by our EMT trained Mountain Patrol, we had a great turn out for our first lift evacuation training of the season along with CPR training for staff.
If we have to evacuate the chair for any reason, we have a system to unload each passenger from the chair safely and quickly. Teams of people move along the chair with an evacuation kit to lower passengers by rope on a special seat down to the ground. We have multiple evacuation kits and train many of our staff to assist in the effort. Each person doing the training goes through each part of the process and tries out each role; lowering someone down, assisting the person doing the lowering, and being a passenger on the chairlift getting evacuated. We do this training each season so that we are all trained and refreshed with the process.
Needless to say, we hope that we don't have to perform a lift evacuation this season, but it is definitely better to be prepared.
As you can see in this photo, even a very small person can lower a fully grown adult from the chair safely. Although, for a real evacuation we would not have children working as part of the evacuation crew.