After a snowy six month hiatus, construction on Whistler Blackcomb’s Peak 2 Peak Gondola has commenced, with completion of the record breaking lift slated for this December, just before the busy winter season swings into high gear.
Phase one of the two-year construction schedule concluded last November with the two tallest towers completed, and concrete poured for the foundations of the remaining two towers. Phase two has kicked off with the clearing of over 10 feet of snow around the lift terminals to prepare for construction. Access roads have been cleared of snow on Whistler and Blackcomb, and the steel for the towers is being moved into place.
“We couldn’t be off to a better start as this second phase of construction has got underway,” says Rick Temple, Peak 2 Peak Gondola Project Manager. “The site is cleared and prepped, the Doppelmayr team has arrived from Europe, and we’ve just placed the first piece of steel on the Blackcomb Terminal, which is a major milestone.”
While formwork crews have begun work on the lift terminals, a very important shipment has begun its journey to Whistler from across the Atlantic Ocean. Five spools of cable, weighing close to 100 metric tonnes each, as well as four “smaller” reels, were loaded onto the Rhine Barge “Pecaro” at the Basel Rhine Port on April 10.
The barge connected with the ocean-going vessel “Star Indiana” in Vlissingen, The Netherlands on April 23 and has begun its trans-Atlantic journey to the Port of Vancouver in Washington State. This US port has a heavy-lift mobile harbour crane and was the closest port with the ability to handle the extremely heavy spools. The cable is estimated to arrive in the US on June 5, when it will be transferred to rail cars to make the journey across the border and up to Whistler. When the cable reaches Whistler, the spools will be lifted onto a special low-bed truck and transported up the mountain.
Once the cables are at the top of the mountain, the cable stringing process begins. The entire process is scheduled to take 12 to 13 weeks. The plan is to fly a small cable across the valley by helicopter. After that cable is strung, progressively larger and larger cables – five in total – will be pulled across the line until the actual cable is finally pulled across.
Upcoming major milestones for the spring construction phase include final concrete pours, construction of the tower head for Tower 3, erection of Towers 1 and 4 and building of the winch platforms on Towers 2 and 3. Watch it all happen at www.whistlerblackcomb.com/peaktopeak with webcams, construction updates, photographs and videos.