Whistler aims high with new gondola ride
Construction of what will be one of the world's highest and longest gondolas is set to begin in Whistler B.C., now that 90 tonnes of cable has arrived from Switzerland this week.
The Peak 2 Peak gondola run is being built across a valley that separates the Blackcomb and Whistler mountains, a popular winter vacation destination for millions of skiers and a key venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Scheduled for completion in December 2008, the gondola will capable of transporting 4,100 people an hour in cars that run every minute, and feature glass floors to allow passengers to appreciate the view.
"Our goal as a resort is really to be the number one mountain resort in the world," said Dave Brownlie, president of Whistler Blackcomb. "With the peak to peak gondola, the ability to showcase what we do here on the Olympic stage, I think that's our opportunity."
The 11-minute, four-kilometre journey between the mountains will be 436 metres above Whistler village.
The $50 million project is expected to be fully operational during the 2010 Olympic Games.
A special heavy-haul trailer and tractor from Montreal is needed to lift the 27 metres of cable which weighs 90 tonnes on five huge spools up the mountain.
"We don't actually have a spare one, so it was very important that they got here safely and on time," said Brownlie. "The next thing is we have to get them up to the top of the mountain, and then we will start the process of getting them from the top of Blackcomb to the top of Whistler."
Stretching from the Rendezvous Restaurant on Blackcomb to the peak of Whistler, it will take workers more than 12 weeks to string the cable across the valley.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Mike Killeen