Some 20 skiers in northeast Kuusamo, Finland found themselves dangling in the air for close to an hour on Sunday after a ski lift at the Ruka ski resort malfunctioned. The chairlift's primary drive stopped working, and the auxiliary power source also failed.
Rescue service personnel eventually used ropes to lower the skiers to safety, and the incident passed without any injuries.
The director of the Ruka ski resort Matti Parviainen says that it is still not clear why the ski lift and the auxiliary power source both malfunctioned.
"The auxiliary drive for the chairlift didn't work for some reason. Too much time had started to pass, so we decided to go ahead with a rope-assisted evacuation, in cooperation with the rescue services," he says.
Chairlift malfunctions that leave the occupants stranded this long are very rare. Parviainen says he only remembers one other rope evacuation case during his extended career in the business.
"Normally, if there is a problem with the chairlift, we are able to empty it of its occupants with the auxiliary drive. It takes place a couple of times per season, due to electrical outages, for example," he says.
The resort has promised to investigate the cause of the malfunctions thoroughly.