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Vail Resorts replacing Whistler's Creekside Gondola, Red Chair

The lift upgrades are part of a $320-million capital plan Vail Resorts announced Thursday
Creekside gondola Whistler Blackcomb Mitch Winton
Vail Resorts is planning to replace Whistler Blackcomb's Creekside Gondola and Big Red Express chair with new higher-capacity lifts, the company announced Sept. 23.

Major lift upgrades are in store for Whistler Blackcomb's Creekside zone.

The existing six-seater Creekside Gondola is set to be replaced with a new high-speed, eight-person gondola, while the high-speed quad Big Red Express will be swapped out for a new high-speed, six-person chair. The projects, planned for the 2022-23 winter season, are part of a $320 million capital plan announced by Whistler Blackcomb parent company Vail Resorts on Thursday, Sept. 23. 

The plan will see the ski resort behemoth install 19 new chairlifts across 14 of its North American resorts. The commitment marks the company's largest single-year investment into improving the guest experience, Vail Resorts noted in a release. 

According to the company, a new gondola in Creekside will "significantly improve wait times" and increase out-of-base uphill capacity by 35 per cent, while replacing the four-seater Red Chair with a high-speed six-seater will increase uphill capacity by nearly 30 per cent. 

The gondola that currently services Creekside — the site of Whistler Mountain's first-ever lifts — was originally installed in 1996, while Big Red Express began spinning the following year.

Thursday's announcement is part of Epic Lift Upgrade, a new initiative that Vail Resorts claims "will significantly improve and enhance the guest experience and make getting on and around its mountains easier, faster and more enjoyable."

The project and its completion date are subject to government approval, the company cautioned.

"Our mission at Vail Resorts is to provide an Experience of a Lifetime to anyone who visits our resorts—and delivering on that mission requires constant re-imagination and investment into the guest experience," said Rob Katz, Vail Resorts chairman and chief executive officer, in a release. "Our teams have been hard at work identifying significant opportunities to improve the guest experience and have produced an initial list of exciting lift upgrades, a restaurant expansion and projects that expand access to incredible terrain for next season, with more to be announced.

"At some of our mountains, this means new high-speed lifts that will double how fast we can move people out of the base areas, and at others, the projects are all about making it easier for people to explore different sections of the mountain," Katz continued.

"Overall, our goal is for guests to have more time to enjoy the sport they love. Of course, all of these projects for the 2022-23 season are on top of the big improvements we will have ready this upcoming 2021-22 ski and ride season, which we cannot wait to unveil to guests in just a few months."