The top executive at Doppelmayr Canada apologized Friday for delays in completing the new Big Red Express and Creekside Gondola on Whistler Mountain. While both new lifts were originally scheduled to be commissioned before the resort’s November 24th opening day, Big Red is now expected to open in early December with Creekside’s timing to be determined. The new 10 passenger gondola’s 13,000 foot haul rope has not yet arrived in Whistler.
Doppelmayr agreed to build the new six passenger chairlift and 10 passenger gondola at Whistler in November 2021. The ambitious project is the largest in the Epic Lift Upgrade initiative to build new lifts across a dozen Vail Resorts. Contracts for all 18 lifts were split roughly evenly between the two largest manufacturers, both of which face supply challenges amid high demand. “We would like to apologize to all who plan to visit Whistler Blackcomb and the impact they may experience as the result of the delayed opening of both Big Red and the Creekside Gondola,” said Luc Guy, CEO of Doppelmayr Canada. “We experienced significant global supply chain and shipping challenges, and did not anticipate delays to this degree. We understand the importance of these projects, and how this delay will impact uphill access and the overall guest experience out of Creekside. We are doing everything we can in partnership with the Whistler Blackcomb team to complete the gondola as safely and quickly as possible. We will move with urgency and align to all safety protocols once the haul rope arrives, and we are confident that the new Creekside Gondola will truly provide an improved experience for visitors to these beautiful mountains.”
In addition to supply chain delays, Doppelmayr also faces a labor shortage. Whistler Blackcomb employees have been providing extra support to the installation team and Vail Resorts is bringing in additional lift mechanics from its recently-closed Australian mountains to assist. “We appreciate Doppelmayr’s commitment to this project and their partnership,” said Whistler Blackcomb Chief Operating Officer Geoff Buchheister. “We are disappointed that these projects are delayed and I want to reiterate my gratitude for the incredible Whistler Blackcomb team and all they have done – and continue to do – in service of these projects and the guest experience. We are focused on what we can control and remain resolute on finishing these projects as quickly as possible, while still providing a great start to the season for everyone who joins us.”
Whistler Blackcomb will modify its opening strategy with a focus on offering as much terrain as possible, particularly on Blackcomb Mountain where all lifts are operable. The resort will also offer free and frequent bus service from Creekside to Whistler Village until the new lifts open. Guests arriving from Creekside will be offered priority access to both the Whistler Village and Blackcomb Gondolas. Base area lifts will also open 15 minutes early – at 8:15 am – conditions permitting until Big Red and Creekside are completed.