Golden Eagle Express
Photo by Drew Wittstock/Facebook

Teen records high-altitude rescue after faulty transformer strands gondola riders

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For some, getting stranded on a gondola high above a snowy mountainside sounds like a nightmare, but for 16-year-old Kody Lapointe, it was the ride of a lifetime—and he captured it all on video.

This past weekend, an electrical failure shut down a gondola at British Columbia’s Kicking Horse Resort, leaving crews to rescue approximately 75 people from the Golden Eagle Express, which travels 3,413 metres up the mountain.

Lapointe told CBC News that he and his dad, Manny, were “insanely excited” when they found out they’d be rescued by helicopter due to the altitude they were hanging at.

“They dropped the rescuer down on top of our gondola and he puts us in parachute-type things, hooked us to the top, and off we went, out the door [and] up in the air,” Lapointe told CBC News.

But he and his father were stuck in the gondola for at least an hour before being retrieved. According to reports, the electrical transformer went down at 3 p.m. After going through all of the safety procedures and protocols on the lift, officials at Kicking Horse found that the transformer also blew all of the restart mechanisms. That’s when they realized they would have to do an emergency evacuation.

By this time it was 4 p.m. and the sun was setting over the snowy peaks in the horizon, adding an extra touch of beauty to Lapointe’s footage of him and his father dangling high above the mountains. As you see in the video, they were safely dropped off at the mountaintop chalet in a matter of minutes.

Spokesman Matt Mosteller told CBC that this is the first time something like this has happened at Kicking Horse. Luckily, it’s also something the rescue team trains for regularly.

The resort credited the talented team of rescuers and apologized to guests on Facebook: “With everyone safe, warm, and fed, we apologize to each of you involved for the inconvenience.”

But no apology was necessary for some.

“We got a sweet ride out of it,” Lapointe says in the description of his Youtube video.

The Golden Eagle Express was shut down for a few days following, but according to Kicking Horse’s website, it’s up and running again and mountain operations are back to normal.

Although Kicking Horse has never had to deal with an issue like this before, it happened just days after skiers and snowboarders were evacuated from a chairlift that broke down at Banff’s Sunshine Village.

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