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Peak 2 Peak opens - Alex Griffiths, Whistler
Friday December 12, 2008 - Email this article to a friend

The much-hyped lift in Whistler opens with fresh snow, large crowds and our PlanetSKI reporter, Alex Griffiths, was one of the first to use it.

He is certainly the first British ski journalist to report on the opening.

There was a massive crowd gathered on the top of the mountain for the opening of the Peak 2 Peak gondola.

A 'First Nation' band, Native American to you and me, played a few songs and a local girl with a record deal sang 'Oh Canada'.

There were mounties and mascots in bear outfits and Miss Whistler joined the festivities too.

whistler_-3It was a great atmosphere, no doubt improved by the falling snow.

Hot chocolate, Red Bull and "Peak2Peak" temporary tattoos were all being handed out.

The opening attracted quite a few dignitaries and local celebrities, mostly sporting heroes.

The main speech was given by a nervous looking Chief Operations Officer of Whistler Blackcomb and who repeated the phrase "the best resort in the world" to cheers and mentioned the Winter Olympic Games in 2010 to even louder cheers.

He joked that the weather had meant that the Premier of British Columbia was unable to attend but that, "we would really rather have the snow."

Also present was the local MP who gave a speech that was rather confusingly worded but gave the impression that he was happy with the project.

whistler_-_2The Minister for Transportation called the gondola an "icon" and equated it as a symbol as Canadian as the Mounties standing next to him. Again there was mention of the Winter Olympic Games in 2010.

Then the ribbon was cut to much jubilation and the lift begun.

A couple had come to renew their wedding vows and the first lift was filled with the 'Whistler Founders' who had been rewarded with the first ride on Peak 2 Peak.

I managed to get on and what a lift it is - breathtaking.

It has a glass bottom where the riders were able to watch the skiers and boarders below.

whistler_-_4_400Gradually the ground begins to drop away until the middle point of Fitzsimmons Creek almost 2000 feet below. One occupant next to me remarked that it was "just like GoogleEarth."

The hyperbole surrounding this lift that has been bombarding those of us that live in Whistler is probably unjustified, it is after just another ski lift.

The tagline for the lift is "The possibilities have just become infinite".

 

That's hardly true with barely 10 runs open on Blackcomb and Whistler combined as the snow has not been very plentiful lately. In fact it's been rubbish.

But the sentiment fits with the sight of a lift stretching off into the fog, to another mountain, four kilometres away.

The snow came with impeccable timing, the lift worked without a hitch and I got to be one of the first to ride it.

All in all, a very good day.

The new lift breaks all sorts of records as it links the top of Whistler mountain with Blackcombe mountain. It cost over $50m and has the longest unsupported span at over 3km and the greatest height at 435m of any lift in the world. It's quite an engneering achievement.

whistlergondola2

Alex wrote a piece for PlanetSKI describing the snow conditions a couple of days ago. Fortunately they have improved with several centimetres of fresh snow in time for the opening of the Peak2Peak. They need some moe though!

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