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Sunshine Village chairlift breaks down, 'terrified' skiers and boarders rappelled to safety

A Calgary man stranded on the Goat’s Eye chairlift at Sunshine Village on Sunday says some skiers and boarders were in shock after being evacuated, and patrollers had to bring them down to the base of the mountain by snowmobile.

Ski patrol did ‘terrific job,’ says Calgary skier stranded on Goat’s Eye chair

Ben Kilmer decends from the Goat's Eye chair lift at Sunshine Village in Banff National Park on Dec. 27, 2015. (Submitted by Ryan Corry)

Some skiers and snowboarders forced to rappel off a broken-down chair lift on Sunday were so shaken from the experience that ski patrollers had to transport them to the base of the mountain by sled and snowmobile.

"There were some people up there who were just so terrified of the ordeal and probably had some decent amount of shock that they were unable to actually ski back down the mountain after they got them off the lift," said Ryan Corry, a Calgary man who was among those stranded.

On Dec. 27, Sunshine Village Ski & Snowboard Resort evacuated about 100 people off the Goat's Eye chairlift after it broke down "due to a failure of the main gearbox," according to a statement from the resort.  

"When we first got to the lift, you could smell diesel or oil, something that was definitely not normal," said Corry.

He was on the Banff hill that day with six other family members and friends — one of whom was just a beginner.

"We were quite worried about her."

Corry said his sister and brother-in-law are experienced climbers and were able to calm her.

Nicole Babson gives a thumbs up while she rappels from the Goat's Eye chair lift at Sunshine Village, which broke down on Dec. 27. More than 100 skiers and boarders had to be evacuated. (Submitted by Ryan Corry)

He also credits the Sunshine Village ski patrollers, saying they did a "terrific job communicating and leading everyone through the evacuation."

Corry said it took about two to three hours to get everyone safely off the lift and staff ushered them into the lodge for hot chocolate, coffee and treats.

"Obviously they gave us some vouchers for another day, since the majority of ours was wasted up on the lift. They were definitely apologetic."

The resort expects the Goat's Eye chair to remained closed for several days while it obtains parts to repair the lift.

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