Rode the 'Bowl yesterday on the eve of 2009 and had a great day that ended with a bang. Although only one inch was reported at the morning phone call but the storm looked to be coming in hard that morning. I lucked into first chair and enjoyed some perfect storm riding all day long. After lunch the wind began to pick up, I noticed on a few lift rides that it was actually snowing at a 45degree upward angle.
I heard some patrollers talking about some large trees falling in the bowls and in Far East. The next ride up the chair lift, me and buddy were casually talking. Next thing we hear a loud cracking noise coming from the nearby trees. Oh shit is all I could think.
Then we see a 50ft tree breaking off at the stump and falling towards the downhill chair cable. It landed right next to the chair in front of us, exploding needles and branches went everywhere, nearly missing the lady on the chair. The tree then hung on the cable as the lift continued to spin, it bounced a few times and fell to the ground. As a result the chairs on that side were bouncing wildly and swinging to horizontal. I grabbed the chair like a little girl and at the same time contemplated jumping. I thought for sure the chair was going to derail. Turns out we made it to the top, where I promptly informed the top shack. The chair was shut down for the rest of the day.
Never a dull moment at the Bowl. Below is a "re-enactment" of the situation. Thanks to Jesse K for the pic (taken today).