Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

49 Degrees North closes chairlift after part breaks; park will remain open through spring season

A snowboarder glides down a slope at 49 Degrees North Ski Area, near Chewelah, on Dec. 12, 2012. On Saturday, the park announced it was forced to shut down one of its main chairlifts after a part broke. (Brian Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

The 49 Degrees North Ski Area was forced to shut down one of its main chairlifts after a part broke, owner John Eminger said Saturday in an announcement on the park’s website.

Chairlift No. 4, dubbed Silver Lode, is one of three lifts that transports skiers and snowboarders to the top of Chewelah Peak. With that lift out of service for the remainder of the spring season, lift Nos. 5 and 6, Sunrise Quad and Angel Peak, “will be moved into a more aggressive operational schedule,” Eminger said.

“Due to record-breaking snowfall, the staff at 49 Degrees North Ski Area is running at max capacity to keep the resort functional and is unable to safely engage in the repairs to the lift or acquire the part for repair at this time,” he said.

The part that broke is a coupler hub for the spinning shaft that moves the chairlift. Eminger said the damage had nothing to do with user error, such as poor maintenance or jumping from the chairlift.

Eminger said it will take the manufacturer, Riblet Tramway Co., about 12 weeks to make a replacement hub. He said workers will have to remove the chairlift cable and lift the bull wheel up to 2 feet to make the needed repairs.

“In light of this, the ski area will not engage in repair until the season is complete,” he said. “We will use this time to order the correct parts and build this repair into our summer maintenance schedule.”

Eminger said the chairlift will be back in service for the 2019-20 winter season.

Separately, the ski resort acknowledged that a chair on lift No. 1, Bonanza, unexpectedly detached from its cable while passing through a loading station Saturday afternoon.

“The riders were in contact with the snow in the load station when the carrier came off,” the resort said in a Facebook comment Monday morning. “The problem was quickly identified and addressed. There is not an ongoing safety issue with that chair or its carriers.”

No injuries were reported. A resort spokeswoman did not respond to messages seeking comment on Monday.