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Business Segment: Rope Access/Rescue
Location: Lech am Arlberg ski area, Austria.
Project Description: Skilifte Lech Arlberg operates two cable cars that transport skiers and hikers to the top of Mt. Rüfikopf, a 2,350 m (7,710′) mountain. The first gondola holds as many as 80 people; the second as many as 50. The distance the gondolas travel up the mountain is 2,100 m (7,700′).
The client required a solution that allowed safe evacuation from the gondolas when a thunderstorm, snow, fog, or other hazardous weather (common to the area) prevented helicopter rescue. In these cases, the crew reached the gondola using either the suspension rope from the top station, or via a mast above the gondola. For distances greater than 80 -100 m (262-328′), the crew climbed to the gondola from the ground using rope access.
This traditional form of access might require an operator to climb 120 m (394′). It was not only time consuming and tiring for the climber, but could be risky, especially in poor conditions.
Solution/Equipment Used: To allow rescue operators to quickly ascend/descend from the gondolas in bad weather, Harken Industrial proposed the gas-operated PowerSeat® ascender.
It was suggested that the gondola staff lower a small line to pull up the two rescue ropes on which the team could quickly ascend using the PowerSeat. This also proved to be an expedient and safe method for mast inspection and maintenance.
Summary: The mountain environment requires rescue personnel to navigate steep and rough terrain and the PowerSeat provides a dependable vehicle for this task. It is easy to operate and is much less tiring than climbing by hand which requires a high degree of physical fitness—particularly when climbing over long distances. Once in position, the gas-operated PowerSeat enables rescuers to easily evacuate people from gondolas. It also enables two rescue personnel to access a gondola. This greatly decreases the time it takes to carry out the operation, and increases the safety of both those being rescued as well as the safety of the PowerSeat operators.
This Harken Industrial product is featured in the case study above: PWRS-G