Reeling from its haul rope being cut twice in 13 months, the Sea to Sky Gondola Limited Partnership today announced a CA$250,000 bounty for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individual(s) responsible. The gondola cable was first cut on August 10th, 2019 and again on September 14th, 2020. The reward will be funded entirely by the gondola’s owners and not by taxpayers.
“This individual on both occasions came very close to hurting people,” remarked General Manager Kirby Brown in an afternoon press conference at the gondola base. “This individual hurt our community and certainly hurt our business. As we begin the incredibly dangerous and delicate extraction process yet again, this individual has put my team directly in harm’s way. This individual is a criminal who needs to be caught and brought to justice.” Kirby estimated 25 to 30 of the 39 cabins that were on the system this time will be written off and damage will again total in the millions.
Surveillance footage of the incident and a description of suspect(s) may be released at a later date. Police are urging anyone with video of the Sea to Sky Highway north and south of the gondola location from September 13th at 8:00 pm to September 14th at 2:00 pm to please contact them. Video could be in the form of dash cam from a vehicle, house surveillance, or business footage. To qualify for the reward, information must be provided directly to a police officer, to the Police Gondola Information Line at 604-892-6122, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regarding capital projects and the seven lift projects Vail postponed this year, Katz said on the conference call:
“We are of course going to be monitoring the season closely before we come out with any plan for calendar year 2021. We’ll make sure we’re incorporating what happened this year. We will likely still be in a conservative approach though hopefully not as conservative as last year because the environment around Covid and travel has all improved. We will definitely be prioritizing projects that we think will have a significant impact on the guest experience and certainly some of the projects that we deferred from last year will be top of the list.”
Government-owned Marble Mountain remains on the hunt for a private operating partner.
The multinational hospitality company which operates Badger Pass in Yosemite National Park has announced the ski area will not operate for winter 2020-21. Badger Pass is one of only three US ski areas located in a National Park and features four fixed grip chairlifts and 90 acres of terrain.
“Due to ongoing concerns related to COVID-19, Badger Pass Ski Area will not open for the 2020-21 season. This includes both Nordic and downhill operations,” read a statement from Aramark Corporation, which operates Badger under a long term agreement with the National Park Service. “We are in the process of contacting season pass holders with the option of a season pass rollover or refund. Thank you for your continued interest in California’s original ski area, and we hope to see you next season,” the statement continued. Publicly-traded Aramark reported a $328 million operating loss in the most recent quarter with revenue down 46 percent due to the pandemic.
The Sea to Sky Gondola‘s haul rope was cut again this morning in an intentional act of destruction. The horrible news comes just 13 months after the first such crime occurred the morning of August 10th, 2019. “At 04:00 hours the Squamish RCMP was contacted by the security team at the Sea to Sky Gondola stating that the line to the gondola had been cut and had crashed into the mountain,” read an early morning statement from police. “Squamish RCMP members attended immediately and began to assess information and contain the area.” The lift was not operating at that hour and there are no known injuries.
The criminal(s) responsible for the original downing were never apprehended and the gondola reopened six months later with enhanced security including 24 hour remote monitoring. Squamish RCMP is working alongside partner agencies including the West Vancouver Police Department and more will be arriving as the day goes on. There is an extensive amount of resources in the area and law enforcement is asking the public to stay out of the vicinity.
“We are in shock,” General Manager Kirby Brown told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “This is a repeat incident of what happened last year.” He said the attraction plans to rebuild again, just as it did last fall. That included millions of dollars of work including new cabins from CWA, a replacement 55 millimeter haul rope from Fatzer and new security infrastructure.
The Sea to Sky Gondola employs 120 people and hosted 400,000 visitors per year before the recent setbacks. Anyone with information on either crime is asked to contact the Squamish Royal Canadian Mounted Police at 604-892-6100 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
Update: According to Brown, the cable was cut in a similar manner to last time with a skilled individual quickly climbing a tower and cutting the rope. The person was captured on surveillance footage which shows clearly what happened. There were 39 cabins on the gondola this time, six of which were in stations and undamaged. A rope specialist is en route to determine whether a new haul rope section can be spliced in or if an entirely new rope is needed. The gondola was insured and the company is already in the process of ordering what is needed to rebuild again.
As snow falls across the Rockies, resorts closer to the Pacific continue to deal with drought conditions and wildland fires. Most immediately threatened is California’s China Peak from the 153,000 acre Creek Fire. “We are aware that the fire has reached our mountain and a strike team is working hard to manage the flames and protect structures on the base area,” said a statement from the resort last night. “Employee housing has been damaged, but we have no other information at this time.” China Peak operates a total of six fixed grip chairlifts.
Eight different National Forests in California shut down to the public effective 5:00 pm on Labor Day due to extreme fire danger. Mammoth Mountain and Snow Summit are among those temporarily suspending mountain operations in partnership with the Forest Service.
In Oregon, a fire ignited within the Mt. Hood Meadows boundary on Monday. Meadows fired up the Stadium Express for firefighters, who were able to contain the blaze to a few acres without damage to lifts or facilities.
The Mt. Hood National Forest is now closed to the public. Timberline Lodge has suspended outdoor operations until further notice (skiing on Palmer Glacier ended August 30th this year.)