Ronnie Morris at Snowbowl describes the incident as "a loading mishap." She says a skier had knocked down fencing surrounding the LaVelle Creek Chair and when an attendant went to clean up the debris, the chair collided with the attendant and detached.
"The way these chairs are designed, if they run into something with force, they come off," Morris says.
Morris says the delay lasted one hour and 45 minutes, and passengers on the lift had to be roped off. The lift was operable by 2:45 Tuesday afternoon and the chair was reattached Tuesday night. A message posted on Snowbowl's Facebook page Wednesday night states, "The issue with lavelle was not mechanical and the chair is operating normally. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused. If you have any questions or concerns please see the ticket office."
One account of the incident has popped up online, complete with a photo of the downed chair. The post says "everybody was stuck for over an hour, then roped off. I was 'just' about to get on," and later adds, "since the chair wasn't moving, people were stuck on the lifts, 20-30ft above the ground. The only way to get the down is to throw a climbing rope and sling over the cable so they can be lowered down safetly. It's one type of 'belay' that you never want to do."
The Billings Gazette reported that a chair fell off a lift at Red Lodge Mountain on Wednesday. That incident injured two young males.
"This was nothing like that," says Morris.
Update: Snowbowl posted a detailed explanation on its Facebook page this afternoon.