Why Montana Snowbowl Needs an Inspection Before it Can Open
That news comes after reports that Montana Snowbowl, Inc. was being asked to complete the safety review before operating its chairlifts for the upcoming season.
The move comes as the agency is enforcing new standards that were released in May and in response to an accident at the mountain last winter when a child fell off one of the chairs when it struck one of the towers after loading.
Snowbowl, like other ski resorts operating on federal land, operates on the Lolo National Forest under a Special Use Permit, which allows the operators to use National Forest Land. But it also includes specific guidelines for safety and the environment.
The current permit was issued 19-years ago and runs through 2044. It requires Snowbowl to conduct regular inspections and engineering checks on the chairlifts. Additionally, revised safety standards were adopted by the agency earlier this year.
While the inspection order from Lolo National Forest has the potential to stop, or delay operations, Forest Supervisor Carolyn Upton clarified yesterday that the resort is making progress, and the agency's goal is to make sure Snowbowl is "well-positioned for a successful winter recreation season.”
“We are following our normal process for this time of year in authorizing the ski lifts to operate,” said Upton. “This year, as part of the process, we did request that Snowbowl hire a third-party engineer to review all the lifts to make sure they were in compliance with new industry standards released in 2022 and to look at the lift involved in the unfortunate accident that happened in March.”
In a statement released Friday morning, Snowbowl managers explained that they hired an engineer trained in the new standards to complete an inspection following the March accident, and "all the corrections he recommended have been completed." Additionally, they plan to have a second tramway engineer on site as the resort does its annual pre-opening preparations.
The statement goes on to say Snowbowl has set up extra staff training, changed some operating procedures, deployed new tools, and improved communications.
"We are confident, as this work is now being finalized and documented for Forest Service approval, that Snowbowl will open as anticipated, weather dependent, on December 8. We will update the public as soon as the Forest Service has given us final approval. Naturally, we will refund, in full, all pass and coupon purchases if the Forest Service does not allow us to open for the season."
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Gallery Credit: Stacker