BRITISH COLUMBIA

Christmas Party-Goers Trapped Overnight On Grouse Mountain

12/13/2015 07:20 EST | Updated 12/13/2016 05:12 EST

More than 300 guests and staff were stuck in a lodge on Vancouver's Grouse Mountain Saturday night after 100-km/hr winds forced the shutdown of the main gondola.

The Skyride was shut between 11:30 p.m. Saturday and about 5 a.m. PT Sunday for safety reasons, said Julia Grant, media relations officer for Grouse Mountain.

The mountain got 50 cm of snow in 48 hours, to the delight of skiers heading up Sunday.

grouse mountrain trapped

(Photo: Michael Trujillo/Facebook)

Overnight captive guests were kept busy in the lodge, as many were not dressed for below-freezing temperatures, while others chose to use the opportunity to play in the snow.

"We had Christmas movies running in the theatre," said Grant, who said captive guests kept their spirits high with hot chocolate and lots of food.

"This is quite an extreme situation for us," Grant added, not able to recall another time the tram was stalled overnight.

grouse mountain storm

Guests hunkered down in the lodge overnight. (Photo: Matthew Harr/Facebook)

The mix of well-heeled party-goers, as well as skiers and families who had gone up to skate and enjoy Grouse Mountain's "Peak of Christmas" festivities, were all stuck. While mountain officials tried to get seniors and children out first while the sky tram was operable, some did spend five hours trapped.

"It was an unforgettable experience," Richie Jemilo told CBC News after emerging from the restarted Skyride.

"It's so rare," Jemilo said, describing how staff provided free entertainment, chicken strips, blankets and anything they could to make the forced sleepover in the chalet comfortable.

"It was an unforgettable experience."

Upon disembarking the gondola this morning, one boy asked if he could go up and do that again.

Some people expressed frustration on Twitter.

"Stuck on Grouse Mountain. gondolas not working. I didn't sign up for this for my Christmas Party," Lisa Reader wrote on Twitter.

The gondola became operational early Sunday, and many expressed relief to be coming down, as well as gratitude for how well staff on the mountain treated captive guests.

"They treated us well and kept us fed. Everyone is getting off now!" wrote Reader at 7:45 a.m. PT.

Last March, 38 passengers were stuck on a Grouse Mountain gondola, left dangling above trees for hours, because of a computer glitch. Winds sometimes stall the sky tram rides for short times, but not usually overnight, in the memory of staff.

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