Ready for a faster way up the Chief?
Construction is officially underway on a brand new gondola that will carry passengers from the Vancouver suburb of Squamish to a summit 850 metres above scenic Howe Sound.
The Sea to Sky Gondola will take passengers on an eight-minute ride from sea level to a strip of alpine land between Shannon Falls and the famous Stawamus Chief, a 700-metre granite dome popular among rock climbers and hikers.
Work began earlier this winter on the $22 million initiative, which will be completed by the summer of 2014 and serve an estimated 200,000 riders in its first year of operation. The special Swiss-made gondola cars hold eight passengers each.
Plans for the project include an outdoor activity centre at the summit. A 9,000-square-foot lodge will offer cultural activities, as well as a restaurant. Interpretive trails will lead to special viewing platforms overlooking Howe Sound, as well as a suspension bridge high in the mountains and access points to backcountry hikes. In winter, the facility will also offer snowshoeing and other seasonal activities.
Meanwhile, the base will feature a cafe, kids play area and the all-important gift shop.
The Sea to Sky Gondola is located in Squamish, roughly one hour outside of Vancouver and halfway to Whistler along the picturesque Sea to Sky Highway. Already known as the “Outdoor Capital of Canada,” Squamish is hoping that the new project will provide access to the outdoors to people of all ages and skill levels.
The gondola is also expected to provide an economic boost to the community, which is often overlooked by travellers on their way to the Whistler mountains. It’s forecast to provide more than 60 full time jobs and inject some $3 million into the local economy annually.
What do you think about the new Sea to Sky Gondola? Let us know below.
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