Monday, September 22, 2008

First Gondola Sky Cabin Run on Whistler’s PEAK 2 PEAK

On Friday, September 19, twelve PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola Sky Cabins made the very first, epic journey across the 4.4km span between Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains. Doppelmayr employee Mathias Zudrell rode the carriage of the first gondola to perform visual checks of the gondola’s mechanisms as it travelled across the Fitzsimmons Valley. "Today was a hugely exciting day for everyone involved in the construction of the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola", said Barb Houghton, PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola Project Manager. "I am just so happy to see that first cabin come across safely after two years of planning and building".
On Thursday, September 18th a press event was held to announce the official opening date of December 12th, 2008, as well as to show off the Blackcomb terminal building and all of the Sky Cabins. This engineering marvel is set to become a new Canadian tourism icon, and will forever revolutionize the way visitors experience this four-season resort.
"This spring we had to move massive amounts of snow so it was a slow start but we have been able to stay on track with each construction phase" says Rick Temple, PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola Construction Manager. "To be at this point in construction at this time is unheard of. Typically for a lift installation you are fighting the weather in November to get things done. However due to the incredible work by everyone involved we are ahead of schedule. We are very excited to have our official opening day announced and are looking forward to the day when our guests can experience this gondola".
The $532m Doppelmayr built lift will operate with 28 cabins, including two with glass floors, and set world records for the length of the unsupported span between two towers (3.024 kilometres) and its height above the valley below (436 metres over Fitzsimmons Creek).
Through October and November load testing will take place as well as evacuation training and simulations, and operator training. The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola will also be examined by the British Columbia Safety Authority through their Passenger Ropeways Safety Program which regulates the safety of lifts.
"There is always a ton of anticipation for the winter season and being able to announce the official opening for the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola gives our guests something else to look forward to this winter, a definitive date to mark on their calendars", says Dave Brownlie President and Chief Operating Officer of Whistler Blackcomb. "We know that on December 12, the way our guests use Whistler Blackcomb will be changed forever and we are extremely excited for that day to come".
Construction progress of the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola is captured daily via webcams, and weekly via photography and construction blogs on the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola microsite.