From the Howe Sound to the granite cliffs of Stawamus Chief, the new Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, B.C., will soar 2,800 ft above the sound when it opens to the public on Friday, May 16.
With gondolas a popular tourist attraction in British Columbia’s picturesque settings, the new $22 million (Canadian) gondola draws folks up from the Highway 99 basecamp to six different hiking trails, three viewing platforms and a 9,000-sq-ft Summit Lodge in the heart of Garibaldi Provincial Park.
The 10-minute ride rises 1,900 ft vertically, offering views of the Howe Sound Fjord, the massively popular (for rock climbers, especially) Stawamus Chief and the Diamond Head region of Garibaldi Park.
At the top of the new gondola, which crews built with the aid of helicopters dropping in large pieces of the infrastructure, crews built the Douglas fir-beamed Summit Lodge adjacent to the gondola terminal. From there visitors can leave the views of the 5,000-sq-ft deck to hit one of the six trails or two other viewing platforms—one cantilevers over a sheer drop to give those who dare views of climbers on the backside of the Chief and windsurfers in the water.
A new 330-ft-long Sky Pilot suspension bridge includes backdrop views thousands of meters below, giving even a greater feeling of exposure and height over land. With 360-degree views of the area, both up and down, this year-round visit adds intrigue to the new hiking trails.
Designs for Sea to Sky were unveiled in 2011 and construction took over a year. Now ready for the public north of Vancouver, Sea to Sky hopes it constructed a view-seekers’ delight.
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.