Sea to Sky Gondola optimistic about spring reopening as repairs continue

A month after its cable was deliberately cut, the Sea to Sky Gondola is still on track to reopen next spring, its general manager said Thursday.

Kirby Brown says crews have finished the hard work of removing the damaged cabins off the mountain and stabilizing the haul rope — all ahead of schedule.

Now, the Squamish attraction is waiting on replacements to arrive ahead of the rebuilding phase.

“Thing are going really well,” Brown said. “Under the circumstances, as good as we could hope.”

Most of the gondola’s 30 cars fell to the ground around 4:30 a.m. on Aug. 10, after police say the 55-mm cable that held them up was cut by at least one person.

Squamish RCMP are treating the case as a criminal act of vandalism, but have yet to identify any suspects. Police did not have an update on the investigation Thursday.

Despite some of the cabins surviving, Brown said all of them will be replaced “more from a consumer-confidence perspective than anything else.”

The cabins, which have to be manufactured first, are expected to arrive between later this year and early 2020. A replacement cable is set to arrive from Europe in October.

In the meantime, the gondola is ensuring everything beyond the main attraction is continuing to operate, in order to keep the more than 70 employees working.

The base area, including the cafe and gift shop, are open during normal business hours. School programs are also going ahead this fall.

“Having the base area open means we get to see the characters we love so much come by for coffee and we get to hang out with them and still feel that we’re in the business of servicing people, which is why we’re here,” Brown said.

One of those “characters” is retiree Doug Brubacher, who says he’s taken the ride up the mountain 1,317 times.

“There’s something about this place,” the season pass holder said about being able to come back during the repairs. “It’s a family, it’s an adventure, it’s a location.

“I’m not the only one; this hit everybody hard.”

While the staff and visitors are still affected by the closure, Brown says it’s also presenting opportunities not usually available to employees — including having a Christmas break for the first time ever.

“In hospitality, you don’t usually get Christmas off, but guess what? This year, we’re going to take Christmas off,” Brown said. “Even if it’s just this year, we’re going to take advantage.”

— With files from Jordan Armstrong

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