Excalibur gondola tower collapses at Whistler

Wed 17 December 08

53 people were trapped as one of the towers collapses causing the line drop, and gondola stations in the lower section to become trapped. Only minor injuries have been reported and all people have now been successfully been evacuated

Full video report available on the BBC's website

The Excalibur Gondola evacuation was completed at 5:51 pm this evening. Fifty-three guests were safely evacuated from the lower line of the Excalibur Gondola after a structural failure on tower 4 caused the gondola to cease operation.

At approximately 2:30pm PST on Tuesday, December 16, a structural failure on tower 4 on Blackcomb Mountain's Excalibur Gondola caused the gondola to cease operation. No gondola cabins came off the line. There were several injuries that appear to be minor. Injured guests were treated at the Whistler Medical Clinic. The cause of the incident is unknown at this time and will be investigated, however the immediate priority has been to secure the tower and evacuate guests.

There is an upper and lower section to the Excalibur Gondola. The failed tower 4 on the lower section was secured by a crane and Whistler Blackcomb Ski Patrol and the Whistler Fire Department immediately implemented an emergency lift evacuation procedure. The upper section of the gondola, independent of the lower section, was unaffected by the incident and was cleared immediately of guests by normal procedure.

Fifty-three guests are being evacuated from the lower section. Whistler Blackcomb Ski Patrol, Whistler Fire Department, RCMP, BC Ambulance and Emergency Social Services are currently aiding in the evacuation and are extending care to guests being evacuated. The evacuation is well underway and is expected to be complete by 6:30pm. Communication to the guests still on-board is currently underway.

The Excalibur Gondola was built in 1994 and undergoes an extensive safety check every year by the BC Safety Authority. The last check took place within the past six months. Each gondola cabin holds eight people. The gondola section where the incident took place is approximate 30 feet above the ground.

A full investigation is underway by Whistler Blackcomb and the BC Safety Authority. Whistler Blackcomb will release further information as it becomes available.

[From whistler press office]

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