Whistler Blackcomb creates another world's first with opening of new gondola

Whistler Blackcomb ski resort has laid claim to another world’s first.

This time, with the opening last month of the Blackcomb gondola, the resort is home to the longest continuous gondola system in the world.

“There are other resorts, in Europe for example, that have more gondolas than we have,” said resort communications director Marc Riddell.

“But this is the longest continuous gondola system. You can now go up Blackcomb gondola, right across the Peak to Peak and then back down the Whistler Village gondola.”

When the Peak to Peak gondola was completed ten years ago – linking the upper parts of Whistler and Blackcomb – it was the longest unsupported span of gondola in the world.“We lost that designation a year and a half ago to a lift in Germany,” Riddell said.The Blackcomb gondola is the centrepiece of a $66 million investment by Vail Resorts, that included upgrading the Catskinner chair on Blackcomb from a three to four person chair, and the Emerald Express on Whistler from a four to six person chair.The Blackcomb gondola can carry, at full speed, 4,000 skiers per hour via its 10-person gondolas. It replaced the Wizard Express and Solar Coaster chairs and ends up at the Rendezvous Lodge. From there it’s a short distance to the Peak to Peak gondola.

Riddell said the new gondola has the highest capacity of any in North America.

“It’s changed the dynamic for families and ski school. When we are operating even at half speed on that gondola it just clears out the line. It’s done exactly what we intended it to do which is make moving around the mountain a heck of a lot more efficient,” he said.

Whistler Blackcomb has a total of five gondolas, with the Whistler gondola opening in 1986.dcarrigg@postmedia.comtwitter.com/davidcarrigg