Intrawest to link Whistler, Blackcomb with gondola system

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Intrawest plans to build a gondola system that will link ski areas in the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in western Canada.

The system will be able to move more than 4,000 people an hour between the two peaks, said the company.

Intrawest said its Peak to Peak Gondola, to be completed in December 2008, would be the highest and fastest in North America and would transport skiers and summer visitors from Whistler's Roundhouse Lodge to Blackcomb's Rendezvous Lodge.

A 2008 completion will put the service in place well before the 2010 Winter Olympics, which will be hosted in large part at the Intrawest ski resorts near Vancouver.

The gondola system, with 28 sky cars, will travel 2.7 miles in 11 minutes. At it highest point, the gondolas will be 1,361 feet above the ground, the company said.

"The Peak to Peak Gondola will create a dramatically enhanced experience that no other mountain resort in North America, possibly the world, can offer," said Dave Brownlie, Whistler Blackcomb's chief operating officer.

"This link will effectively double, or more, the options for accessing the highest quality and greatest variety of terrain on any one day, from anywhere on the mountains."

He said the lift would be "the catalyst for a sustainable economic future benefiting both Whistler Blackcomb and the entire resort community."

Each of the sky cabins will hold up to 28 people, with a total capacity of 4,100 passengers per hour.

The terminal on Whistler Mountain will be accessible from the valley by the Village Gondola, and the terminal for Rendezvous Lodge will be accessed from the valley by the Wizard Express and Solar Coaster Express lifts.

Construction is scheduled to start in May.  

To contact reporter Dan Luzadder, send e-mail to [email protected].

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