New Years Eve dinner workers at New Mexico’s top restaurant had just finished and were now forced to stay the first night of 2022 together. The cable car that was carrying them back down the 10,000ft mountain got stuck mid-night. 

Guests were all gone from the TEN 3 restaurant in Sandia Mountains at the crack of dawn on Saturday, leaving only 20 workers to get back to Sandia Mountains. 

The wintry conditions got worse just 15 minutes into their descent and forced the aeriel tramway stop.

After being stuck on the frozen cable car for hours, the workers were finally rappelled to safety 85feet below, one by one

After hours of being trapped in the frozen cable car, workers were finally freed from the cramped position and lowered 85ft to safety.

A rescue helicopter works to help passengers who were stuck overnight on a Sandia Peak Tramway on Saturday

The Sandia Peak Tramway’s Saturday night closure left passengers stranded overnight. A helicopter was dispatched to assist them.


Tramp passengers stuck on tramways are wrapped in metal blankets to protect themselves from the elements as they wait for help.

The workers became stranded with nothing to do but wait for the dawn to rescue them.  

New Mexico Search and Rescue crews utilized ropes and helicopters on Saturday to rescue 21 persons who became stuck in tram cars due to an iced-over cable.

Lt. Robert Arguellas a Bernalillo County Fire Department spokesman, said early on Saturday afternoon that crews first managed to rescued 20 people stranded in one car and several hours later rescued a 21st person who was  stranded by themselves in a second car.

The two vehicles were owned by employees of Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway and the mountaintop restaurant, TEN 3 Arguellas.

Arguellas said that the other employee who was leading the climb up the mountain was there to ensure security overnight when New Years Eve saw the tram stop due to icing.

20 restaurant workers were stuck on Sandia Peak Tramway following their New Years Eve service on Friday night

After the New Years Eve service, Friday night’s New Years Eve celebration on Friday evening, twenty restaurant employees were left on Sandia peak Tramway.

A group of 20 employees had no choice but to wait until a daylight rescue attempt could be made due to the wintry conditions

The wintry conditions forced 20 workers to stay put until daylight could be attempted to rescue them.

Restaurant workers were forced to sleep on the floor until help arrived as they remained stranded in the cable car

The cable car left restaurant employees stranded and forced them to lie on the ground until they received help.

The cable car was able to reach a support tower from where the restaurant workers were able to rappel 85 feet down

From a top tower, the cable car could reach 85-foot descent. 

After being stranded overnight in the frozen cable car, rescuers were able to slowly winch down the trapped workers

Rescuers managed to winch the workers down from the cable car after they were left stranded for over an hour.

A picture of a computer display from the rescue helicopter shows the gondola and the support tower where those waiting to be rescued were waiting

The rescue helicopter’s computer screen shows the gondola as well as the tower that houses the people who were waiting for their rescue.

Images from the rescue helicopter shows those waiting to be rescued on the ground

The cable car car be seen stuck next to the support tower

The rescue helicopter captured images of the people on the ground waiting for help. Left: Cable car next to support tower. Right

Arguellas reported that no injuries were reported among the stranded. “More than that, I’m just really frustrated.”

However, it wasn’t easy to save people who were stuck in mid-air.  

Operators were able move the vehicle to a support tower about halfway up the mountain to reach the 20 persons trapped inside. On Saturday, search and rescue workers hiked up the mountain to get blankets for the people in the stuck car.

Search and rescue crews used ropes to bring the employees to safety. They then escorted them to an area in steep, rocky terrain to retrieve the tower.

The tramway completely froze up after wintry conditions became so severe it became dangerous to operate the cable car

After wintry weather made it unsafe to use the cable car, the tramway froze completely

At one stage it was extremely difficult to see the cable cars with visibility much reduced

In one instance, it was very difficult to see cable cars due to reduced visibility.

The two trams (right) were left immobilized because of

Officials stated that the icy conditions caused two trams to be immobilized.

A rescue helicopter can be seen racing to pluck 20 people who were trapped aboard struck tram

The rescue helicopter is seen racing for 20 passengers trapped on a struck tram.

Daylight brought a clearer view of the mountain on which the 20 restaurant workers and security guard were stranded

Daylight gave a better view of the mountain where the security guard and 20 restaurant workers were stuck.

Imagery from a rescue helicopter shows that when conditions cleared a mission to reach the stranded restaurant workers was on track

A rescue helicopter captured images that show how a mission was accomplished to help the restaurant workers who were trapped.

Images shot by the rescue helicopter shows one of the first responders, left, onboard the chopper

A camera is seen and able to assist with a graphic overlay, right

One of the first rescuers is shown left while the camera can assist right. Images taken by the helicopter rescue helicopter

The helicopters then took the 20 passengers to the top of the mountain.

A dramatic livestream video captured the trapped tramway riders escaping from the disabled tram to reach the ground, then they moved to an area on the mountain to be picked up by a helicopter. 

Arguellas claimed that the second vehicle with only one employee was situated higher up than normal and was not accessible by people using ropes.

The tram system managed to pull the second car along the cable and to rescue the tower. Rescuers used ropes to bring the 21st person down, just like they did with the other cars, Arguellas stated.

Rescue helicopter delivers those trapped aboard tram to safety Saturday

Tram passengers trapped in tram crash rescue helicopter to their safety 

Members of the Bernalillo County Sheriff Search and Rescue team assist the people who were rescued after being stuck overnight in a tramway gondola at Sandia Peak near Albuquerque, New Mexico

Bernalillo County Sheriff search and rescue team assisted the individuals who had been trapped overnight in the tramway gondola at Sandia Peak, New Mexico.

Restaurant workers crouch down as they leave the rescue helicopter which helped bring them to safety

As they exit the helicopter that brought them safely, restaurant workers kneel down.

The restaurant workers can be seen getting ready to enter the County Sheriff's vehicles after their all night ordeal

After a long night, the restaurant employees are getting ready for their entry into County Sheriff’s cars

Members of the Bernalillo County Sheriff Search and Rescue team assist the people who were rescued after being stuck overnight in a tramway gondola

Bernalillo County Sheriff Search & Rescue Team assists those who have been trapped overnight in a tramway-gondola. 

The helicopter had to make several journies up to where the workers had become stranded

It was necessary for the helicopter to fly several times to reach workers who had been left behind.

The workers were ferried to safety as they were brought down to the ground by helicopter having spent the night in the air

Workers were evacuated to safety after they had spent the night in air. They were then brought to ground by helicopter.

The rescue helicopter is seen sitting in a parking lot after it made the journey to pick up those who had been stranded

After making the trip to rescue those left stranded, it is now parked in a lot.

Another of the restaurant workers is sent in the direction of safety following their all-nighter

A second member of the staff is dispatched in safety after the all-nighter.

It had been a long night and an even longer wait for rescuers to arrive at the New Mexico cable car

It had been an exhausting night, and rescuers waited for hours to reach New Mexico’s cable car.

Brian Coon is a tramway manager. The tramway system had experienced an unusually high accumulation of ice that caused it to droop beneath the tram. It made it unmanageable to carry on and led to the cable cars stopping moving around 2am.     

The rescuers were employees at TEN 3 restaurant located on top of the mountain. It claims it is America’s most amazing new dining experience. Tram cars have water and food, along with emergency blankets. 

‘Been stuck in Tram since 9p … rescue happening soon,’ Colleen Elvidge posted on social media Saturday morning, along with photos showing weary passengers in hoodies trying to keep warm with silver space blankets. 

The trapped passengers were in good shape despite the fact that their party was ruined,” said Michael Donavan from Sandia Peak Tramway located outside Albuquerque. 

“All 21 rescuers and personnel are safely off the mountain. This rescue was a success thanks to the BCSO, NM Search and Rescue Teams and NM State Police. This is a great way to begin the new year!’, Bernalillo County Fire Department tweeted on Saturday afternoon.

Rising from the hustle and bustle of Albuquerque, the Sandia Aerial Tramway travels up the 10,378-foot crest of the Sandia Mountains. The journey takes 15 minutes

The Sandia Aerial Tramway rises from Albuquerque’s hustle and bustle to travel up the Sandia Mountains 10,378 foot crest. It takes approximately 15 minutes to complete the journey.

The restaurant workers would normally have a very simple commute in a 15 minute gondala ride back down to the ground

Restaurant workers could normally commute to work in 15-minute gondala rides back to the ground.

Spectacular views covering 11,000 sq miles and be witnesses from the TEN 3 restaurant at the top of the mountain

Stunning views over 11,000 miles can be seen from the TEN 3 Restaurant at the summit of the mountain. 

Those rescued were workers at TEN 3 restaurant, located at the top of the mountain which bills itself as America's most breathtaking new dining experience on its website. Pictured, a view from the top of mountain

TEN 3 restaurant was responsible for the rescue. It is located at the summit of the mountain and boasts America’s most stunning new dining experience. A view looking up from the summit of Mount Everest.