Take Away from an Unfortunate Event

Take Away from an Unfortunate Event

The recent ski lift incident in Gudauri, Georgia has certainly gotten plenty of air time and I am sure you have seen various posts about this unfortunate incident. It is remarkable that the injuries that did occur were not more serious and that there were no fatalities.
For those requiring a refresher on what happen, here is a video and article from the day of the incident: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/nation-world/article205612529.html.
My purpose for writing about this is to capitalize on the need for training of lift operators and the need for top shelf maintenance. Here is the official explanation of the incident, http://agenda.ge/news/97928/eng. I’ll be the first to admit I have some questions on the explanation, but certainly there was human fault. I do not pretend to be qualified to offer any expert input on the subject. However, to put things in sequence, a voltage drop could cause the lift to stop and maybe failure of the brake systems, allowing the roll back, but if that is what happened, the statement saying the diesel generator should have been activated does not make sense, to me. Any comments?
My assumptions are that by diesel generator it is meant the evac motor and that the voltage drop caused all systems to fail so engagement of the rollback brake system controls failed and gravity caused the lift to go in reverse with a load on the line. The one failure not understood is the non-manual actuation of the emergency brake by the attendant. This is hard to understand, albeit part of the challenge is the translation to English.
The resignations by management are something to take note of as well as the steps taken by the government to require certifications to be issued to staff by the outside trainers, presumably Dopplemayr.
The takes away for us in North America are the training failure of the lift operator and the full evaluation and review of this incident by the maintenance department to understand the exposure of each lift on your hill to voltage fluctuations, small and large. We all know voltage variations happen. I have seen it and I am sure most readers of this post have. Having an understanding of the consequences of voltage variations is important for all in the maintenance and operations departments to know the potential impacts. This isn’t the only incident we have seen in current times.
Being prepared is the lesson we can take away. Take the opportunity to have the discussion and review the steps you need to take to address such a potential unexpected event.

Data and Information

Database of record: Centralized and organized data assists in recognizing and evaluating patterns, resulting in more thoughtful planning and informed predictions.

Rapid, intuitive retrieval of current and historical data (accessible on or offsite) improves decision making at all levels of management.

Simple report generation.

Reduces risk and potential lawsuits.

Supports visualization of current and future mountain infrastructure (e.g. Gazex explosives locations, forest thinning, designing new runs, parking, etc.).


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Ski Patrol

  • Ease of real-time data entry (no more logbooks or spreadsheets!).
  • Use of common language allows for consistent communication and information sharing.
  • Increases safety by minimizing accidents through pattern analysis of incidents.
  • Accident Investigation and Risk Management.
  • Snow Safety (Ski Patrol) Training.

The web and mobile application suite will provide editing and data collection tools for mapping incidents (wrecks, accidents) of any kind.

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Avalanche Module


Ability to document, track and analyze slope conditions with one tool.

Ease of real-time data entry (no more logbooks or spreadsheets!).

 Centralized and organized data assists in recognizing and evaluating patterns, resulting in more thoughtful planning and informed predictions.

Provides detailed current and historical weather patterns for visualizing/predicting.

Saves money through more precise use of explosives. 

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The dispatch and risk module leverage Esri’s Survey 123 for ArcGIS, providing an intuitive survey-form, data-driven workflow for point feature collection and reporting. Data collected with SmartMountain Survey apps, which are available for both web browsers and native desktop and mobile apps for standard operating systems, are integrated with one or more SmartMountain modules, providing real-time or disconnected and later synchronized workflows for data collection and integration.

Each ski resort decided what they wish to display on the Dispatch Dashboard including on-hill incidents, walk-in incidents, on-hill refusals,  missing persons, work details for different departments, ski patrol rosters for the day, clearances, and sweeps.

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  • Logs for Lift Maintenance, Lift Operations, and Groomer inspections, as well as building inspections.
  • Logs can record data and signatures, can record stops, station assignments.
  • Logs are tracked by calendar.


  • Management review made easy through the use of Excel – reviewing a major grouping of assets or a single component of an asset such as a drive or a gearbox.
  • All information related to a system(asset) is in one place whether it be a lift inspection report, a manual, oil analysis, a service bulletin, or a letter from a vendor.


  • Every user has a unique dashboard.
  • Dashboards can be customized to reflect a user’s specific needs.
  • Quick access to the status of work and cost .


  • The schedule function in MountainOffice provides for detailed instructions by task, recording of data such as the temperature of a gearbox, and service bulletins.
  • All schedules can have a time or counter trigger.