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magic-mile

The Magic Mile rises to 7,000 feet on the south side of Mt. Hood.

A chair from Timberline's Magic Mile chairlift fell to the ground Thursday afternoon, injuring no one but forcing a timely evacuation and an investigation involving the lift manufacturer and a third-party lift engineer.

The chair was headed downhill when it detached from its cable at about 1:45 p.m. Thursday, Timberline announced on Twitter and Facebook March 31st. No one was riding the chair that fell.

Here is the announcement that Timberline posted on social media:

At approximately 1:45pm today there was a mechanical malfunction on the Magic Mile chair lift. A chair detached from the cable on the downhill side of the lift. The chair lift was not occupied. No customers or staff were involved in the incident. All guests were offloaded in a timely manner. The Magic Mile will be closed until further notice, pending a thorough investigation involving the lift manufacturer and a 3rd party lift engineer. Timberline Lodge thanks all guests on the lift for their patience and apologizes the inconvenience. We are compiling all details of the incident, which will be posted as soon as possible.

High speed chair lifts like the Magic Mile whisk about 3,000 skiers up the mountain at 1,000 feet per minute. The metal grip that holds the moving chair to the cable works like a spring-loaded clothes pin, opening to release the chair so it can slow down to let skiers on and off, then reattaching to return to top speed. These chairs have been known to detach accidentally on occasion, although such incidents are extremely rare.

The Magic Mile chairlift was made by Leitner-Poma of America, based in Grand Junction, Colorado, one of the largest manufacturers in the industry. It was installed at Timberline in 1992, the third chairlift serving terrain above Timberline Lodge since 1939.

The Mile remained closed for several days while engineers investigated exactly what happened Thursday and why. By Saturday afternoon the lift was back in service, and Timberline released the following statement:

This is a communications update regarding the Magic Mile chairlift malfunction, which we reported on March 31. The lift has been inspected by an independent chairlift engineer along with representatives from the US Forest Service. It was determined that failure of a key component of a carrier grip occurred, resulting in the detachment of an empty chair on the downhill side of the lift.

RLK and Company chairlift technicians followed the recommendations of the chairlift engineer and performed comprehensive inspections and testing on the entire chairlift. It has been determined that the chairlift conforms to industry standards, and is now operating.

By Sunday morning the Magic Mile lift was back in operation, although it stopped repeatedly throughout the day for mechanical reasons.