Stranded tourists frustrated after Grouse Mountain tram breakdown

A group of tourists say they’re frustrated by a lack of communication from Grouse Mountain Resort after its Skyride tram broke down on Sunday, leaving visitors stuck on the mountaintop while the gondola was out of commission for around five hours.

The aerial tramway takes visitors up and down the mountain, at the top of which there are several restaurant and wilderness activities.

According to Grouse Mountain Resort, the Skyride stalled due to a “fault in the operating system” around 1:20 p.m. PT on Sunday.

Visitors were stuck in the tram cars until 2:30 p.m. PT, when the resort said it switched to auxiliary power in order to get the trams back to the top of the mountain.

The Grouse Mountain Skyride tram is seen in 2015. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

The gondola was back up and running by about 6 p.m. PT on Sunday, according to the resort. It was then closed for Canada Day, and reopened midday Tuesday.

Grouse Grind hikers should be prepared to descend the mountain by foot until it reopens.

On Sunday, two hikers were rescued by emergency crews on a trail coming down the mountain.

A North Shore Rescue spokesperson said while the tram was out of commission, some Grouse Grind hikers attempted to descend the mountain by foot but weren’t prepared.

‘Where was the evacuation plan?’

Audrey Sherrick, who was visiting the resort from New Jersey, said her group of six was on the platform ready to get on the tram going down when the shutdown happened.

“The staff at the top of the mountain … they were wonderful, but they knew nothing. Management was not communicating to them, and therefore they could not communicate to us,” she said.

“For six hours, we were literally in the dark, thinking that this gondola is going to start any minute.”

People wait on a platform, with skychair-like lift lines visible in the background.
People waited on the platform for the next tram going down Grouse Mountain after it broke down on June 30. (Submitted by Audrey Sherrick)

Sherrick said that after waiting on the platform for two or three hours, the resort offered stranded visitors free food and drinks in the resort restaurant.

But with hundreds of people behind them in line to get the gondola down, taking the food would have meant they would lose their spot in line. 

Sherrick said she witnessed some people, even a family with a baby, decide they would try and hike down the mountain instead. 

“We understand that things happen, you know, but our biggest complaint is where was the evacuation plan?” the tourist said.

Sherrick said she and her group made it to the bottom by 7 p.m. PT after the tram came back online — but by that point they had missed the rest of their tour activities for the day.

Hikers struggle down

According to North Shore Rescue (NSR), some hikers who had been expecting to take the tram down after they’d reached the top of the Grouse Grind trail instead hiked down the nearby BCMC Trail, which is slightly less steep than the grind.

“People, you know, were doing twice the length of trail that they originally anticipated,” said NSR search manager Paul Markey.

“It was quite warm, so a lot of people were getting into trouble. They were becoming exhausted,” he added.

ambulances wait in a parking lot, an evening sky and lowrise building is behind them
At least two people were sent to hospital due to injuries while hiking down the BCMC Trail on Grouse Mountain on June 30. North Shore Rescue said that many hikers weren’t prepared to hike down the mountain after they arrived at the top of the Grouse Grind. (North Shore Rescue/Facebook)

According to NSR, District of North Vancouver Fire Rescue Services extracted one woman with a sprained ankle and NSR extracted a man who had collapsed on the trail. Both were carried out on stretchers, Markey said, and ambulances then took them to hospital.

“There were multiple people coming out of the bottom of the trail that were unstable on their feet, and were having to be assisted by their friends,” Markey said.

Markey said that although the tram usually works, anyone who hikes the Grouse Grind should also be prepared to hike back down if necessary.

The tram is set to be replaced over the next year, said Grouse Mountain Resort. 

WATCH | Record-holder reveals his love for tough Grouse Grind hike: 

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