Skiers on the Sugarloaf chairlift that dumped several skiers up to 30 feet into fresh powder Tuesday, described the malfunction as a terrifying ordeal, but praised the rescue workers that evacuated those trapped on the lift.

People on the lift described how it stopped and started a few times amid high winds and poor visibility. The chairs on the Spillway East chairlift were shaking badly.

Mark Fraleigh, said in a post on the Press Herald’s sports section Facebook site that he was about two-thirds of the way to the top of the lift when problems began.

“The winds started getting intense, as is typical on the chair,” Fraleigh wrote. “It stopped for a few minutes, started up again and then stopped very soon, after only 10 seconds or so.” The lift started and stopped again, he said, with the chair bouncing violently.

Fraliegh said he was only about three chairs from the top of the lift when the lift stopped for the last time.

“We could see a chair at the very top of the lift sitting crooked and we knew something was up and then we were just sitting on the chair being eaten by freezing windchill for roughly 15 minutes,” he said.

Another reader who posted on the reader comments section of the Press Herald’s wesbite, www.mainetoday.com, said the wind was blowing so hard there was almost no visibility.

“Except for about 25-30 minutes of freezing hell up there, the evacuation guys were very professional and courteous and made it easy for us to get off the lift,” wrote wrote Srini Venkatraman.

Rebecca London, one of the skiers who tumbled to the snow, told The Associated Press that her face hit a retaining bar, but her goggles spared her from serious injury. She credited new snow on the trail under the lift with a soft landing; the resort said it got 20 to 22 inches in Monday’s storm.

“Thankfully, they didn’t groom it last night, so they left it like it was,” she said. “So the snow was all soft.”

Most of the skiers who fell appeared to be stunned but OK, she said, and the Ski Patrol was on the scene within minutes treat the injured. London, 20, of Carrabassett Valley, said she wasn’t hurt badly enough to go to a hospital.

Jay Marshall of Carrabassett Valley, a ski coach who hunkered down in a cold wind while on a lift next to the broken one, said his lift was moving but the broken one was not.

There was a “loud snapping noise” after the lift restarted, he said, then some screams.

“The next thing I know, it was bouncing up and down like a yo-yo,” said Marshall. He said it was too difficult to watch, so he looked away. “It was terrifying,” he said.