Whistler’s recent cold weather has led to a number of delays of the Creekside Gondola in the past week.
In a picture shared to the Whistler Winter 2021/22 Facebook page on Christmas Day, one of the gondola pods can be seen tipped and collided with another in the terminal forcing the need to do an emergency stop of the gondola to fix the issue.
According to a Vail Resorts spokesperson, cold temperatures can sometimes affect spacing of the gondola in the terminals—but the issue was resolved in a matter of four minutes and the gondola was back to normal operations.
“In really cold temperatures, it is more difficult for the carriers to move around the terminal and it can result in minor spacing discrepancies. In this case, the guests had to step out as the ski carrier caught. Once de-weighted, we manually straightened the carriers, and the guests were then reloaded.” read an emailed statement from Vail Resorts.
“Part of running a lift system is adapting to the environment, so small adjustments like this do occur. This is what our lifties and our lift maintenance team are on site to do. Our top priority is always our guests’ safety. Our team is skilled at preventing and course correcting for the weather of the day. This is our team doing their job well and correctly.”
Whistler resident Luke O’Neill was one of the people inside the gondola pod that malfunctioned and said it was a bit spooky when it happened but in the end it wasn’t very dramatic.
“I was sitting back against the one that started tipping so like I just started tilting backwards and was like what the hell is going on and then just jumped up and got out,” he said.
“I was definitely a bit apprehensive to get back on. We didn't get on the same one, we took our skis off of it and got out of the way of the next one that went by and got on the next one after that. But at that point we were so cold we just wanted to get on any chair lift that we could. But I was definitely a bit on edge thinking about it, but the rest of the journey was smooth sailing thankfully.”
While O’Neill and his girlfriend got back on the gondola right away, another person who Pique spoke to but didn’t want his name used for fear of repercussions from Vail Resorts, refused to get back on it for the rest of the day after his pod, which was about halfway up at the time of the incident, swung significantly after the stop causing him to fear that the gondola might derail.
This event was the second of three maintenance stoppages of the Creekside Gondola in the past eight days with two nearly hour-long stoppages happening on Dec. 20 and Dec. 28.
In the emailed statement, a Vail spokesperson said that there was never any risk to the gondola riders but wants to “extend its apologies to the guests who were inconvenienced by these events.”The statement goes on to say that with the Creekside Gondola set to be replaced in the summer, these mechanical issues shouldn’t be an issue for riders in the future.