Whistler skiers and snowboarders are getting an early Christmas gift on Friday, Dec. 16.
(Or a belated American Thanksgiving/opening day present, depending on your perspective.)
After passing final safety inspections, the Big Red Express chairlift replacement will officially open to the public tomorrow, Whistler Blackcomb announced on social media early Thursday afternoon. The brand-new, high-speed six-seater will welcome its first guests at 11 a.m., after an opening ceremony featuring ambassadors from the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre.
Guests arriving at the base of the chairlift will, however, have to make their way down from higher elevation rather than upload directly from the valley. As the new mid-mountain lift starts spinning, work remains ongoing on the new Creekside Gondola project.
Though there's no official update on when the gondola replacement will begin welcoming guests, Whistler Blackcomb confirmed in an Instagram comment that the lift is "still on track for a Christmas opening," adding that there is more information to come.
Both lifts were originally earmarked for a Nov. 24 opening after being ordered from lift manufacturer Doppelmayr in fall 2021. Whistler Blackcomb officials broke the news that neither lift would be ready for opening day in early November, citing unforeseen shipping and supply chain delays. The resort first announced plans to replace the previous six-seater Creekside Gondola with a new high-speed, 10-person gondola, and swap out the Big Red Express quad for a new high-speed, six-person chair, in September 2021.
Upon completion, the new Creekside Gondola and Red Chair are expected to increase uphill capacity by about 35 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively, resulting in shorter wait times for guests.