It's every skier's worst nightmare (apart from climate change)! Just before reaching the top, a four-seater chair was blown off the Gunbarrel chairlift in the Australian ski resort of Thredbo a few weeks ago, sending the sole occupant plummeting around 10 metres down into a thick snowbank. Ski patrol attended to the somewhat dazed man, who fortunately walked away with just bruising. This is the second incident to happen in the same spot on the same chair in the last few years, following an eerily similar accident in 2016. Thredbo management blamed both accidents on a "freak gust of wind" and said this was an isolated incident that did not affect other skiers.
Australia has been battered by storms and blizzard conditions in the last few weeks, causing chaos all across New South Wales. Winds in Thredbo were reaching speeds of 93 km/h at the time of the incident and other lifts had been closing periodically throughout the day. Gunbarrel, the lift in question, dates back to 1988 and has an hourly capacity of 2800 people per hour - might be time for an update! The local authorities closed the lift for an investigation but opened it again two days later. You can see more pictures from the incident here.Luckily, the chair fell just before reaching the top (Photo: © snowsbest.com)
It was unlucky timing for Thredbo, which had made headlines just a day earlier on the more positive note of being the first ski resort in Australia to go 100% carbon-neutral. Initiatives include carbon offsets for the snow groomers and other vehicles, replacing plastic bags with biodegradable ones and installing low-flow water taps and LED lights. Thredbo also offers skiers and snowboarders the option to tack on an extra $4 to their lift pass to plant a tree in the vicinity, thereby making their contribution to offsetting the energy used to run the lifts. Thredbo has planted over 30 000 trees since 2014, effectively offsetting almost 8000 tonnes of carbon emissions.
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
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