Jasper SkyTram Proposes Gondola Replacement

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The operator of Canada’s oldest aerial tramway is looking to the future in the form of a major redevelopment and eight passenger gondola.  The Jasper SkyTram opened in 1964 and currently carries 30 riders at a time up Whistlers Mountain from March through October.  Built by Pohlig-Heckel-Bleichert of Germany, the tram is approaching the end of its operational and economical life with facilities that no longer meet visitor expectations.

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A replacement gondola could run in a more environmentally and geologically sound alignment with all new terminal and tower locations.  The bottom station would sit along the Icefields Parkway at significantly lower elevation than the current base.  Shortly after departing the valley, gondolas would make a sweeping turn and eventually reach a top terminal with a modern interpretive center, restaurants, trails and barrier-free views.  The lift would become one of Canada’s largest, rising nearly 4,000 vertical feet over 2.75 miles.  The retired access road, stations and tower locations would be allowed to return to a natural state.  New terminals would be accessible for visitors of all abilities and the project would include additional parking, transit and bicycle facilities.

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The current stations are neither wheelchair accessible nor capable of handling demand on peak days.

I know first hand the limitations of aerial tramways for today’s visitors and Jasper is not the first location to consider alternatives.  Heavenly’s scenic aerial tram was effectively replaced by a gondola in 2000 and Grouse Mountain is considering making a similar move.  Gondolas are both comfortable and efficient, offering guests their own cabins and secure seating.  Under the proposal, lift capacity would increase from 200 per hour to 950 with less waiting and no need for standing in crowded cars.  Gondola technology would also enable year round operation.

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The concept is just that and no decisions have been made.  The SkyTram Partnership and Parks Canada are seeking public feedback, which can be sent to redevelopment@jasperskytram.com.

11 thoughts on “Jasper SkyTram Proposes Gondola Replacement

  1. reaperskier March 21, 2020 / 6:52 pm

    Hmm. I wonder if a 2s (or 3s) gondola would work here?

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    • Snow Boys March 21, 2020 / 7:29 pm

      I’m guessing a low capacity 3s

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        • Snow Boys March 21, 2020 / 9:12 pm

          Maybe a d line 8 person gondola

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        • Peter Landsman March 21, 2020 / 9:21 pm

          I’m sure both manufacturers would be interested if this were to happen. The same ownership group runs Marmot Basin, which recently partnered with Leitner-Poma twice. Sunshine Village owns a stake and most recently went with Doppelmayr (but goes way back with Poma.)

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  2. milanyvr March 21, 2020 / 8:13 pm

    Another reminder for grouse to step up and replace the trams

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    • Snow Boys March 21, 2020 / 9:13 pm

      I’ve heard so many people complain about the lines on the trams at grouse. I have never been there but I know that everyone wants a replacement 3S.

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      • milanyvr March 21, 2020 / 10:15 pm

        They make everybody want to just take the grouse grind up (which most of the locals do)

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      • Peter Landsman March 22, 2020 / 5:51 am

        Is a 3S really needed at Grouse? Are there obstacles that require long spans between towers? We’ve seen monocable gondolas go as high as 4,500 passengers per hour recently. The Garaventa tram could be retained for extreme wind days.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Teddy's Lift World March 22, 2020 / 6:37 am

          I’ve thought the exact same thing. There’s a reason there’s only one 3S in North America and it’s a case where it was absolutely necessary. Grouse can make it so this new gondola hugs the treeline and is very wind resistant. Also, isn’t the grouse grind a steep hiking trail through the woods? I doubt the “locals” hike up a snow covered hiking trail while carrying their skis.

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        • powderforever45 March 22, 2020 / 12:51 pm

          Well people do that when there are 5 hour lines on the tram.

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