This week, hundreds of people lived through a nightmare scenario on a mountaintop. According to the CBC, a lightning storm on Monday night caused a power outage, forcing the Banff Gondola (run separately from the SkiBig3 resorts) in Alberta to shut down in the middle of its evening operations.
Some guests were stuck at the top, while others were stuck in the gondola cabins. According to the Globe & Mail, this included a wedding couple, which went to the summit to get their pictures taken. They were able to bring those in the cabins to the summit by using an emergency drive system, but they couldn’t download everyone due to the lightning risk. People had to stay at the summit lodge, which became colder overnight. Guests were given silver blankets to warm up.
The reaction of guests stuck at the summit was mixed. A lack of communication from employees made the situation uncomfortable. The gift shop didn’t provide blankets or sweaters to guests, and they didn’t provide food until two hours after the emergency scenario occurred.
Helena Gil, who was stuck at the summit, shared a video on Twitter (not calling it X) of people trying to sleep through the situation.
Some decided to hike down a challenging trail in the middle of the night (when lightning was still occurring), some hiked down in the morning, while others waited for helicopters to rescue them. The newlyweds mentioned above ended up staying the night. Helicopters got everyone off the summit by 11 am on Tuesday. The gondola reopened on Tuesday at 4 pm. Later that day the Banff Gondolas issued a public apology. The official statement is below:
Just kidding, here was their actual statement:
Mark Hendrikse, a spokesperson with Pursuit, which runs the gondola, said the following to the CBC about the situation:
“This was a very unprecedented event at the gondola. We have not in the last 20 years had a shutdown of this magnitude with that many guests at the top of the mountain,” he said. I’m proud of how our teams reacted in terms of safety protocol and that in terms of hospitality as, we supported those guests as they stayed with us overnight.”
The good news is no one got hurt in this situation, so this will be a great way for the Banff Gondola to prepare for better emergency procedures if something like this ever happens again.
The CBC gave a video breakdown of the situation, which you can watch below.