It wouldn’t be the start of ski season without a little bit of drama at a Vail Resorts property. Whistler Blackcomb has two new lifts as part of Vail Resorts’ Epic Lift Upgrades: The Big Red Express chairlift and Creekside Gondola. The Big Red Express, which was a high-speed quad, is being replaced by a detachable six-pack chairlift. The Creekside Gondola, which was a high-speed six-person gondola, is being replaced by a high-speed ten-person gondola, increasing capacity by 35%. Unfortunately, supply chain issues have led to critical parts’ delayed arrival at Whistler Blackcomb.
Both lifts were expected to open on November 24th, but now, they expect Big Red to open in early December, and the timeline for the new Creekside Gondola is uncertain. This means an entire Creekside base area will not be accessible to access by lift until the new gondola opens. In response, Vail is having free and frequent shuttles from Creekside to and from Whistler Village from 8 a.m to 5 p.m.
Luc Guy, who is the CEO of Doppelmayr Canada, said the following about the situation at Whistler:
“We would like to apologize to all who plan to visit Whistler Blackcomb and the impact they may experience as the result of the delayed opening of both Big Red and the Creekside Gondola. We experienced significant global supply chain and shipping challenges and did not anticipate delays to this degree. We understand the importance of these projects, and how this delay will impact uphill access and the overall guest experience out of Creekside.
We are doing everything we can in partnership with the Whistler Blackcomb team to complete the gondola as safely and quickly as possible. We will move with urgency and align to all safety protocols once the haul rope arrives, and we are confident that the new Creekside Gondola will truly provide an improved experience for visitors to these beautiful mountains.”
In their defense, supply chain delays are hitting a variety of ski resorts hard. For example, Alta’s new Sunnyside chairlift will not be opening until the holiday season, among other delayed projects.
Still, it’s a bad sign that one of their base areas will be completely unserviceable to most guests. The shuttle idea sounds somewhat efficient, but locals claim that traffic is already an issue. Ultimately, if you go early this winter to Whistler Blackcomb, do your research, because you could be stuck in some gnarly traffic and lines. If you’re in British Columbia during November or December, it may be best to look at the other excellent ski resorts in the region or wait for a midweek day to head over. Whistler Blackcomb’s expected opening day is November 24th.
Image Credits: Whistler Blackcomb