Ski lift gets stuck at Pajarito Mountain Ski Area on opening day

New Mexico News

It wasn’t the opening day some visitors expected on Saturday as skiers and snowboarder’s were stuck in the air on chairlifts for hours at at Pajarito Mountain Ski Area.

It was a dramatic scene when over 180 people were left with no option but to repel down.

“When you’re ready, you can work your way off of the seat,” ski patrol said to one skier as they got ready to repel off of the lift.

Hundreds of people made their way up to the resort to hit the slopes, but around 9:15 a.m., many found themselves stranded on one of the first chairlifts of the day.

“They just opened it up at nine. We were heading up and when we were about halfway up the lift just kind of stopped,” said John Roberts, Los Alamos resident. “It went another five feet and then it stopped again and then we eventually heard they were going to evacuate us.”

John and his family were among the many stuck for hours on the aspen lift with nowhere to turn. 

A group of friends visiting, who wanted to stay anonymous, say they were left wondering what was going on.

“We were up there for a good over two hours, almost close to three hours,” they said. “It just didn’t seem like they had enough people trying to get us down. There was no sense of urgency it seemed like to get us down.”

When News 13 reached out to the ski resort for information on how this could have happened, they sent us a statement reading in part that the triple chair lift had mechanical issues, keeping it from moving.

Ski patrol was called in to help people get back down.

“I think I was about 30 feet up and there was no way of getting down besides repelling down,” the anonymous visitor said. “Never experienced that before and I didn’t think the lifts would break down like that.”

“It wasn’t so much scary as it was inconvenient. Opening day and this happens,” says Roberts. “It’s just very sloppy.” 

Those that were stuck say they were compensated with a free hot chocolate once they were off. Luckily, no one was injured .

Officials say the lift had been working all summer without any problems. They could not say when the chairlift will be up and running again but that it will have to pass a mechanical inspection before it can operate.

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