A ski lift at a B.C. resort is completely encased in ice after back-to-back storms over the Christmas holiday, and crews have now begun the difficult task of manually chipping it all away.
Photos have been posted online by Big White Ski Resort in the Okanagan, showing the seats, ropes, tower, and terminals of the Falcon Chair – all turned a dazzling white, looking almost as if they’ve been sculpted out of snow.
“It’s a very unique thing,” the resort’s vice president Michael J. Ballingall says, adding that the resort saw temperatures fluctuate from a low of -30 C to above zero in a period of 48 hours, and that the snow that fell during the last days of 2022 was wetter than normal.
“When you get that moisture in the snow, it just sticks to everything like the cotton candy at a fair.”
This particular lift is just one of 16 at the resort and it takes skiers and snowboarders to the most difficult black and double black diamond runs. It’s at an elevation of nearly 2,000 meters above sea level and doesn’t run unless there at between 170 and 180 centimetres of snow accumulation. So far this season, there hasn’t been enough snow for it to get up and running.
“Sitting idle in those storms, it’s been coated in snow. Now we have to go and bang the ice off to get the chair ready to start,” Ballingall explains.
“People don’t always realize the impact of Mother Nature.”
This photo posted by Big White Ski Resort on Facebook shows a sk lift encased in ice after a winter storm. (Credit: Facebook/bigwhiteskiresort)
As of Tuesday, some progress had been made de-icing the lift and more photos were shared of crews at work.
“Really, it’s large metal mallets banging on on the metal frames and the chairlifts etc. It takes a great deal of skill, effort and strength,” Ballingall tells CTV News.
Because the holidays this year marked the first time the resort welcomed international guests since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Balingall says ice accumulated on the Falcon Chair, in part, because staff were too busy maintaining the lifts and runs that people were actually using.
But with more snow in the forecast and a lull in tourists, he says de-icing the lift is more of a priority.
“It’s given us some time to go in and get that lift ready.”