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Sea to Sky Gondola reopening sets visitation record

FILE - The main cable on the Sea to Sky Gondola was apparently cut by vandals on Aug. 10, 2019, shuttering service for months. (Source: Squamish RCMP handout)

The Sea to Sky gondola reopened sooner than expected on Valentine's Day

Gondola was closed after cable was deliberately cut in August

Revenue lost since the closure has been painful for the owners

SQUAMISH (NEWS 1130) – The reopening of the Sea to Sky Gondola over the long weekend was record-setting.

The gondola was closed after the 5.2-centimetre cable supporting it was deliberately cut along the upper third section in August, causing millions of dollars in damage as more than 20 cars crashed to the ground.

The gondola reopened sooner than expected on Valentine’s Day and, with half-price rates, on Family Day set a record for visitation.

“I don’t think it could have gone any better,” Kirby Brown, general manager of the Sea to Sky Gondola, said of the reopening long weekend.

“Friday was just a really warm and lovely day with all kinds of locals coming out to show their support and a huge cadre of back-country skiers eager to get back in the Shannon Basin,” he added. “It went without a hitch, and in fact, yesterday, it was a beautiful, sunny long weekend day, but it was our record day in terms of visitation.”

The gondola opened in May 2014 and sees about 1,500 to 3,000 guests a day in the summer for the 10-minute trip to the top.

Brown said the revenue lost since the closure has been painful for the owners, but they are now focusing on the future.

“We’ll never make back that money, but that’s OK,” he added.

“Squamish is the most beautiful place amongst all the locations in B.C., in my humble opinion. So it’s just really nice to see people coming back, and that’s all we want.”

As for staff, Brown said 70 core members were retained after the rope was cut, but another 75 seasonal workers had to be let go earlier.

However, he added, 40 of the latter have agreed to return for the summer season. A few were back this past weekend.

“Which is just the best news.”

As part of the repairs, Brown said security has been enhanced with preventative and detection measures, such as lights and cameras.

“It’s an extraordinary system and it has my full confidence, I must say, now that we’ve seen it in operation, with lots of people in and about,” he added.

The vandalism incident is being investigated by Squamish RCMP. No arrests have been made.

Police believe at least one vandal climbed a gondola tower in the middle of the night before severing a haul rope.