Gondola outage traps tourists on Canada mountain

Hundreds of tourists spent a night trapped atop a mountain in Canada’s Banff National Park, after a storm knocked out power to a gondola, officials and tourists said Tuesday.

Images on social media showed people sleeping on the floor of a visitor center at the peak overnight Monday to Tuesday before officials dispatched helicopters to bring them back in the morning.

Abby, 46, a woman traveling with her family who declined to give her last name, described a tiring and frustrating ordeal.

“We spent the night up there,” Abby told AFP.

“They provided us with water, snacks and an emergency blanket,” she said. But it was a “long, long wait,” more than 12 hours, before rescuers started to bring people down from Sulphur Mountain, a popular tourist destination that overlooks the town of Banff.

“Some people braved the darkness and walked back down the mountain” on winding trails on their own, she said.

Tanya Otis, spokesperson for Pursuit, the tourist company that manages the gondola, said a storm had knocked out power to the gondola around 9 pm local time Monday.

A few people were evacuated from the gondola itself while as many as 300 others, according to local reports, could not be brought down before nightfall and were left stranded at the peak.

Every year, countless tourists climb Sulphur Mountain in Banff, the oldest and most visited of Canada’s national parks.

According to the area tourist site, the hiking difficulty level of a trail to the top is rated “moderate” with an elevation gain of 700 meters.

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© Agence France-Presse