By the Numbers: Sea to Sky Gondola

18 May, 2014


Elevation gain in metres

The distance from the starting point, off Highway 99 two kilometres south of Squamish, to the summit is covered in a mere 10 minutes, in floor-to-ceiling, glass-walled gondolas with padded seats. The ride offers views of Howe Sound and surrounding mountains like Mount Garibaldi and the iconic Black Tusk — as well as the neighbouring Shannon Falls and Stawamus Chief. In fact, the gondola takes visitors about 200 metres higher that the crest of the Chief — which was previously the best place to get those stunning views.


The cost of riding down the gondola

If you make the effort and have the three to three-and-half hours to climb the 10-kilometre Sea to Summit trail to the top of the gondola, it will only cost you $10 to ride the gondola down. Think of it as an extreme Grouse Grind. You can also get a season’s pass to ride down for $39.95. And the gondola down is a deal considering a single scenic ride up costs $34.95, with a season’s pass priced at $99. Winter rates for people who go up sightseeing, snowshoeing or backcountry skiing have yet to be established but with snowfall estimated to be double that of Whistler, there will be plenty of the white stuff.


Number of Doppelmayr-built cabins

With room for eight people in each gondola, the ride can carry 600 people per hour. The expectation is that 200,000 to 300,000 people will use the attraction annually. While that figure may seem high, there are 9.5 million people who drive the Sea-to-Sky Highway every year and 60 per cent of them are sightseeing. The gondola is located right between two of the region’s most popular attractions, Shannon Falls and Stawamus Chief provincial parks, which get 650,000 visitors a year. A “soft” opening to practise on some visitors attracted about 3,000 people in just five days.


Number of years it took from coming up with idea to completion

The idea was born five years ago but construction of the project began 14 months before the official launch this weekend. The gondola has five partners: North Vancouver’s Trevor Dunn, Jayson Faulkner of Squamish and Whistler residents David Greenfield, Michael Hutchinson and David Smith. While there are just five partners, construction of the $22-million project involved about 250 people. Summertime employment of 110 people (about 75 to 80 of them being full-time) will make the gondola one of the biggest employers in the Sea-to-Sky corridor.


Number of days the gondola will be open

The facility is a year-round attraction, with some down time in November for maintenance. As wet as it might be on the west coast, rain and snow won’t stop the gondola, but it will close if winds hit 70 kilometres per hour. Weekdays the gondola will begin operating at 9 a.m., with the last ride up at 5 p.m. and the last ride down at 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays are expected to have more demand, with gondolas up beginning at 9 a.m. and the last ride up at 9 p.m. The last download is at 10 p.m.

Originally posted by Frank Luba in The Province

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