December 12, 2008 Features & Images » Feature Story

A feat of engineering 

The Peak 2 Peak sets records, challenges science

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Resorts around the world are also working to attract new skiers and snowboarders as a generation of baby boomers gets older and skis less. The Peak 2 Peak will improve the variety of trails and experiences for new skiers and boarders.

“Blackcomb is challenged with beginner trails,” said Forseth. “There is a solid network of intermediate trails that are workable, but for people coming out of hotels in the upper village there are only a couple of runs on the upper mountain that are practical — after that it gets a little more challenging, unless you’re on the Lower Mountain and sometimes the snow doesn’t make for the best experience.

“People can learn at the base of Blackcomb, head up the Wizard and Solar to the Peak 2 Peak and try the Ego Bowl area and the runs on the Emerald Chair. There’s a progression there between mountains that wasn’t possible before.

“And we’re continuing to find reasons for the Peak 2 Peak, while there are probably things we haven’t thought of yet on this journey and we won’t know until we see how people are utilizing the lift. People could be chasing sunshine or more open terrain — if we have a delay on one mountain for whatever reason, say a dud avalanche bomb that keeps people waiting for a long time, they’ll be able to cross over and keep skiing until the issue is resolved.”

With a price tag of $51 million, Whistler-Blackcomb also timed the construction of the Peak 2 Peak to coincide with the Olympic buzz around Whistler. The result has been the ski industry’s biggest story this season, and maybe its biggest story in years. News outlets around the world have picked up the story, some while covering the buildup to 2010, and have run with it.

That, in turn, has resulted in strong bookings for the resort for this time of year, and many hotels selling out their inventory through the weekend. The snow in the forecast probably helped, as well as the fact that Whistler-Blackcomb has more terrain open than other resorts in the region. But Forseth believes that much of the interest is directly related to the Peak 2 Peak gondola.

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