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December 18 Update - Shooting Star Scheduled to Run Saturday

Categories: Guest Connection Weather Blog Tech Talk Safety Media Center

The Shooting Star lift suffered damage from trees falling on the cable during a wind storm.

December 18 Shooting Star Lift Repair Complete Scheduled to Run Saturday

Kudos to our mountain team. Repairs have been completed on Shooting Star and the lift is scheduled to run Saturday. There may be a delayed opening due to all the storm recovery to be performed but we do expect Star to operate Saturday.

December 12 Shooting Star Lift Repair Project Update

We continue to focus efforts on the structural repair of the tower that was damaged in the wind storm. We’re pleased to report that progress has been made - damage to the tower structure has been repaired and we are continuing repair on the tower footing. We anticipate Shooting Star will be ready to uplift passengers by Christmas day. 

Returning Shooting Star to safe operation requires us to be thorough and meticulous. While we want Star to be running as much as you do, we can’t sacrifice quality for expedience. We are moving as quickly as we can to achieve a proper and permanent repair, but we can’t take shortcuts as the safety of our guests and employees is paramount.

Thank you for your patience and understanding that our commitment is to get this job done the right way as soon as we can. Opening Star on or before Christmas would be a great present for everyone!

About Our Other Lifts

Meanwhile, we are working hard to launch lifts to access more terrain. The current storm continues to dump building our snowpack. We expect to operate Hood River Express Sunday, and open up the terrain for skiing, although we advise caution especially below Knothole as we haven’t received near as much snow at that elevation. Early season conditions exist and you need to be aware of unmarked obstacles. 

Mt. Hood Express and Vista Express have been regularly scheduled and operating. With the storm raging Cascade is on weather standby and we are preparing for a massive storm recovery effort as soon as the weather relents. Cascade will provide access to much of the Shooting Star terrain we all love, so it is a priority when the weather allows.

Heather requires a lot more snow in order to build the snow bridges over the creeks in the run out. While we can’t put a specific time frame on Heather, the forecast of lined up storms is promising.

The forecast is looking good for the holiday, and the season beyond.

Original December 5 Post:

On the night of Tuesday November 17, 2015 the windstorm that hit Oregon also hit Mt. Hood Meadows. Between 7:00 and 8:00 PM winds averaged 71 mph, with a top gust recorded on Cascade of 115.4 mph! During that timeframe two large living hemlock trees, measuring 24-to-32 inches DBH (tree diameter measured at 4.5 feet above the ground) and approximately 80-to-100 feet in height fell across both cables of the Shooting Star lift line, approximately 100 feet uphill of Tower 1. 

We immediately removed the trees from the line and repaired the damage to the lifting frame and cross arm. That allowed us to run the lift and perform a visual inspection of the haul rope, which has no visible damage. An ultra sound inspection of the Tower 1 anchor bolts found no evidence of any cracks or breaks. 
Since the storm we have been in communication with Leitner-Poma who upgraded the lift to a high speed quad in 1998. We have been discussing potential repairs or replacement scenarios with them. We’ve also consulted three independent engineers who work in the ski lift industry to determine what can be done to safely and quickly return the lift to service. We are partnering with one who can focus his attention and expertise on this repair project.  
As always our primary concern is the safe operation of our lifts. All components of the affected tower, the lifting frame, the anchor bolts, the footing, even the tower itself must be thoroughly inspected to determine the appropriate plan for repair or replacement. These plans will be reviewed by the appropriate regulatory agencies that are being informed of our inspections, repairs and further testing. 
We are confident in our abilities to repair damage and have a completely functioning lift. But even a relatively “simple” repair can be a major undertaking considering the obvious weather and geographical challenges requiring us to make multiple plans. There are many moving parts to the repairs and we need to work through them systematically and thoroughly. 
We are fortunate to have one of the most experienced, knowledgeable and accomplished lift maintenance teams in the industry. They understand how important Shooting Star is to our guests and while we cannot give an exact estimate of the downtime, we can assure you this is top priority for Mt. Hood Meadows.
In the meantime we ask for your patience and understanding. Know that we are doing everything we can to get Shooting Star back to service as quickly as possible, but we won’t compromise your safety along the way.  
Look for regular updates on the Shooting Star project on this blog.