Fri, December 12, 2008
Lifestyle > Travel > Winter Sightseeing

Peak 2 Peak Gondola opens to public

2008-12-12 07:33:57 GMT2008-12-12 15:33:57 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Gondolas on the Peak 2 Peak passes each other between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in Whistler, British Columbia December 11, 2008. At 3,024 metres, the Peak 2 Peak has four support towers and is the world's longest unsupported span. Whistler will be the site of the alpine and nordic events of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. [Agencies]

The Peak 2 Peak gondola passes between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in Whistler, British Columbia December 11, 2008. At 3,024 metres, the Peak 2 Peak has four support towers and is the world's longest unsupported span. Whistler will be the site of the alpine and Nordic events of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. [Agencies]

The Peak 2 Peak gondola passes between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in Whistler, British Columbia December 11, 2008. At 3,024 metres, the Peak 2 Peak has four support towers and is the world's longest unsupported span. Whistler will be the site of the alpine and Nordic events of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. [Agencies]

People walk past the Inukshuk atop Whistler Mountain in Whistler, British Columbia December 11, 2008. The Inukshuk is man made landmark used by the peoples of the North American Arctic as a navigation point. Whistler will be the site of the alpine and Nordic events of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. [Agencies]

The spectacular views at Whistler are about to get even better with the launch of the long-anticipated Peak 2 Peak Gondola.

The gondola, which opens to the public on Friday, will connect the subalpine areas of Whistler Mountain with Blackcomb Mountain.

It will take just 11 minutes to go between peaks.

The most expensive lift ever constructed in North America, coming in at $52 million, and is meant to benefit downhill ski fans in the winter and hikers in the summer, as well as being a draw during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Hugh Smythe, senior vice president of Intrawest Mountain Resorts, the owners of Whistler-Blackcomb, was proud of the new attraction.

"It's unique, not only unique for North America but unique in the world. It's the longest, the highest, and all of that. It's going to be very special for our resort," he said.

Two of the gondola cars will have glass panels in the floor, showing off the another amazing aspect of the gondola: It will be the highest such journey in the world, stretching a dizzying 436 metres above the Fitzsimmons Creek valley.

This makes it almost as tall as the CN Tower.

And the cables for the gondola cabins will stretch 4.4 kilometres between just four towers, from the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain to the Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb.

The stretch of cable between the second and third towers will be the longest unsupported span in the world at just over three kilometres.

The resort hopes it will prove a new draw for visitors in the troubled economic climate. Bookings are down by 12 per cent so far this season.

"The economy is a big concern for everyone," said Doug Forseth, senior vice-president of operations with Intrawest.

But the Peak 2 Peak is already proving a draw.

Judy Bronka came all the way from England to try it when it opens.

"We've come a long way to get on it. We've watched some of the building online. Yeah, it will be really good to get on it - Exciting."

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