Atlantic Canada’s First Gondola to Open at Cape Smokey

A modern Leitner-Poma gondola is coming to Nova Scotia’s beautiful Cape Breton Island. The new lift will become the centerpiece of a thousand foot mountain called Cape Smokey, which features views of the Atlantic Ocean.  With summer visitation outpacing winter in this region, the gondola will provide year-round access to skiing, sightseeing, mountain biking and a new tree canopy walk.

Cape Smokey was recently rescued by a New York-based investor group after falling into disrepair as a nonprofit society.  Developer Joseph Balaz purchased the mountain from the province of Nova Scotia for just CAD$370,000.  The area’s 1995 Blue Mountain quad last operated in 2006, leaving only a Poma platter lift operable in recent seasons.

Removal of the mountain’s quad chair has already begun and the base-to-summit gondola is expected to open in July 2021.


19 thoughts on “Atlantic Canada’s First Gondola to Open at Cape Smokey

  1. skiz April 17, 2020 / 9:58 am

    lol they didn’t even try to remove the WP logo


  2. reaperskier April 17, 2020 / 10:05 am

    This is awesome!

    Peter needs to get pictures of the ski areas in the maritimes.


  3. PumpedLogyBear April 17, 2020 / 10:13 am

    This will be an interesting change to the resort indeed. I wonder if the gondola will be a 6, 8, or 10 person gondola.


      • Jamie B April 20, 2020 / 4:12 pm

        What exactly are the benefits of an 8- instead of a 10-person LPA gondola? The same grip can be used for both (albeit with different springs I believe), so surely it just adds cabins and costs


  4. Brendan April 17, 2020 / 1:19 pm

    Like most other commodities right now, think they got a steep discount?


    • Peter Landsman April 17, 2020 / 4:21 pm

      The mountain said $10 million Canadian/$7.1 million USD for the gondola, excluding installation. Not that cheap!


  5. John April 18, 2020 / 10:30 pm

    From the picture it looks like such a small resort, do they really need a gondola? I think a 6 pack would work better there.


    • Andy April 19, 2020 / 6:45 am

      I have no insider knowledge, but from reading the details I suspect the resort is being upgraded to attract summer traffic for hiking and tourism. Winter skiing will just be to keep the lights on and the lift moving. Not a huge money maker. Summer tourism will be the money maker. This resort is served by a narrow, twisty highway d coming into it, which may be subject to bad weather closures in the winter.


      • powderforever45 April 19, 2020 / 8:18 am

        But what about people who are skiing there? They have to take off their skis every time they get down the mountain. They should of gone with a six pack for the sake of convenience. I know they are trying to attract summer guests but they could also ride a six pack instead.


        • Andy April 19, 2020 / 8:46 am

          I agree with the skier / gondola inconvenience for a one lift resort. How about they save the chair from the 1985 BM Quad and put detachable hangers on them. Make the ski lift a gondola in the summer and a detachable quad in in the winter. Or Chondola – mix of both in the winter . just throwing the ideas out there


        • powderforever45 April 19, 2020 / 1:50 pm

          Well the BM lifts quad was probably in bad shape for being outside for so many years so I doubt they’d do that. I agree with the chondola idea though.


        • John April 20, 2020 / 1:33 am

          I’m pretty sure a chondola would be cheaper than a gondola.


        • Jamie B April 22, 2020 / 7:59 am

          I remember being disappointed for the same reason when my local ski area announced they were replacing two chairlifts with a two-stage gondola, but once it was done and I had experienced it for myself, I was very impressed. The comfort of the gondola outweighed the inconvenience, especially on very cold or windy days (bubble chairs don’t give anywhere near as much protection as gondola lifts). That said, for people skiing with small children they can be very annoying. I wouldn’t want every lift to be a gondola, just the longest and most important ones.

          Ironically, I think in the summer I prefer to ride chairlifts, if the weather is warm and dry. It’s nice to be outside and feel more connected to the surroundings


        • Chris April 23, 2020 / 12:00 am

          FYI, I personally don’t like gondola too much, mostly because of having to take off the skies, but most importantly because I want to be outside when skiing, and I tend to spend way more time on lifts than actually skiing due to the speed difference.

          That being said I find your argument about gondolas being worse for small kids interesting, as here in Europe this is one of the main arguments used in favor of gondolas – kids can easily load in the gondola without slowing the chair down and needing external help from additional lifties, and they do not fall out of gondolas ever. Also one single adult can easily supervise many children in a single gondola cabin, while you’ll want adults for at least every 3 or so children in a lift, which is especially important for ski schools where instructors can always stay with their whole group for the usual 8 or 10 person gondolas.


        • Somebody April 23, 2020 / 8:14 am

          I agree with Chris here. Part of of skiing is being outside, and gondolas just miss the mark. If there’s a parallel gondola and chairlift that take the same amount of time, I’m always taking the chair unless it’s below zero (Fahrenheit). Even in the rain.


        • Jamie B April 23, 2020 / 4:30 pm

          Ah Chris, fair point. I’m in Europe too, I guess it depends who you speak to. It’s pain for people with children who can’t (or don’t) carry their own skis, or need help putting them back on every time. Indeed, my mate who’s a ski instructor for small children says he can’t stand gondolas, but I suppose it’s different for everyone. Modern detachable chairs tend to be fine for loading children, but older chairlifts, especially old fixed grips, can be dreadful. Modern chairs with individual footrests and auto-locking stop children falling off. I think the rules vary depending where you are too, in Austria there are restrictions about how many adults are needed per child, but in Switzerland, for example, it tends to be very relaxed (though it may vary between locations).

          I agree, taking skis off is really inconvenient, but I think my preference for a gondola has been shaped by skiing in -35°C / -31°F with wind!


        • John April 24, 2020 / 6:00 am

          I agree with Chris that a gondola shields you from the wind very well. As long the gondola has good vertical I would be okay with it. I once went to a resort that has a gondola as their main lift and it has like 250ish meters of vertical, you would have to take your skis of every run!


  6. Tom White April 23, 2020 / 5:49 am

    I like Andy’s idea. Wildcat, NH is doing this. Their main lift is a HSQ for skiing and a gondi in the summer. As Andy says, adding detachable grips to FGQ chairs or buying compatible HSQ chairs to create a chondola is a cool idea. Decades ago, Sunapee did this. I was never there at the time, but they had a system to manually remove detachable grips on gondi cabins from the haul rope of their summit double chair. They advertised their summer gondola as a way for people with limited mobility to go to the top of the mountain.


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