The area had only been open for a week before the incident.
Saturday, February 13, 2021, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
The struggles at Big Squaw continue, as a lift issue has shut down the northern Maine ski area.
According to a report posted on NewEnglandSkiConditions.com, the lift had a delayed opening on Friday morning due to issues with the auxiliary drive. After less than two hours of operation, chairs on the downhill line reportedly became stuck as the haul rope continued to move, causing the grips to slip. In one instance, the grip of descending chair 89 pushed onto the grip of chair 90. According to a first-hand account published on LiftBlog.com, the lift continued to operate for a few minutes before coming to a stop. A partial deropement reportedly contributed to the problem.
All skiers on the lift were reportedly evacuated without incident.
According to nearby a Wallace Road Wunderground weather station, temperatures dropped below zero in the early morning hours before climbing to the mid-teens around the time of the incident.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Big Squaw announced the area will be closed until parts arrive sometime next week. As a result, the area will have missed every holiday weekend this season.
Located near Moosehead Lake, the current Big Squaw trail network debuted in December 1963. The area was expanded to the upper mountain in 1967 with the installation of a double chairlift. That chairlift sustained a grip failure in March 2004, resulting in four injuries and the closure of the upper mountain. The lower mountain, now served by a 1986 Borvig triple chairlift, closed in 2010.
A group named The Friends of Squaw Mountain obtained a lease and reopened the lower mountain in February 2013, served by the triple chairlift. Soon becoming a 501(c)(3) non-profit, the group continued to make improvements in the ski area in subsequent years.
After seven consecutive December openings, the 2020-21 season did not start until February 5. Meanwhile, a prospective buyer emerged for the ski area with plans to invest $75 million to develop it as a four season resort.