It might be one month overdue, but just in time for Christmas, the new Creekside Gondola has finally been given the green light to start spinning.
The 10-person gondola will officially open to the public on Friday morning, Dec. 23, with a ceremony beginning at 8:15 a.m.
Members of Whistler Blackcomb’s senior leadership team will join representatives from local First Nations and cultural ambassadors from the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre at the Creekside base to officially open the new lift.
Friday’s ceremony marks the long-awaited conclusion to a gondola replacement saga that began in September 2021, when Whistler Blackcomb first announced plans to replace the previous six-seater Creekside Gondola with a new high-speed, 10-person lift, and swap out the Big Red Express quad for a new high-speed, six-person chair.
Both lifts were scheduled to start spinning in time for the resort’s opening day on Nov. 24, but were hindered by shipping delays. The new Red Chair welcomed its first guests last Friday, Dec. 16, following its final safety inspections. Together, the two new Creekside lifts are expected to increase uphill capacity by about 35 per cent in the gondola's case and 30 per cent for Red, resulting in shorter wait times.
While crews from Whistler Blackcomb and lift manufacturer Doppelmayr worked furiously to get those lifts ready in time for the busy holiday period, temporary but well-received measures like shuttle buses and expedited lift lines for shuttle riders have kept guests flowing between Creekside and the resort’s Whistler Village and Blackcomb bases. Those measures will come to an end with the lift's official opening.
The new gondola is set to become an even more integral part of Whistler Blackcomb operations next summer, as work on Fitzsimmons Express and Jersey Cream lift upgrades is scheduled to get underway. In conjunction with the increased uphill capacity provided by the new gondola, about 20 kilometres of new trails planned for the Whistler Mountain Bike Park's Creekside Zone will also help mitigate construction disruptions caused by Fitz construction during the bike park season.