Sea to Sky



Squamish Sea to Sky Gondola Preview


Lower terminal. Image by S. Bochenek.

Post by Steven Bochenek, writer and nature enthusiast 

Halfway between Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia’s two magnificent venues made famous during the 2010 Winter Olympics, sits the province’s newest attraction. The name of this Doppelmayr gondola accurately describes a rider’s experience, but the Sea to Sky Corridor is what this region of the Coastal Mountain Range is actually called. Serendipitous.

It opens to the public on May 16, in just a few days.

Too steep for skiing, Sea to Sky Gondola will cater to hikers, cyclists and nature lovers. During this preopening peek for the media, tradesmen and retail staff busily arrange the final touches on sundry facilities, from picnic tables and hand dryers to forest walks and brochures. Our guide has to shout over the power washer flushing wood dust from the platform beneath the massive bullwheel.

Image by

Image by S. Bochenek.


Image by S. Bochenek.

The 850 metre ride from ‘Basecamp’ to the top takes just 10 minutes. Impressive views of Howe sound broaden and multiply with our ascension. Small windmills on the gondola towers continually collect power from the relentless Pacific winds. The entire facility is powered by electricity but up top, off the grid, the amenities are completely self-sustaining.

S. Bochenek.

Upper terminal. Image by S. Bochenek.

S. Bochenek.

Sweeping panoramic views. Image by S. Bochenek.

At the summit, 68 tenured hectares are leased from the Crown (Canadian government) and tastefully treated with trails, punctuated with informative signs. There’s also a restaurant in a meticulously designed cedar lodge. Several viewing decks offering breathtaking views are connected by a lengthy suspension bridge spanning a deep chasm. Though firmly secured, it’s not for the faint of heart, especially on a windy day.

Suspension Bridge. S. Bochenek.

Suspension Bridge. S. Bochenek.

Construction only began in March 2013.

Indeed, fewer than five years ago, Sea to Sky’s owners — yes, it’s privately owned — had the idea to build this. Imagine. In an almost unique example of united goodwill, several layers of government plus local First Nations all needed to approve the concept. And then they needed to secure funding.

“Maybe you should be running the country,” another journalist quips. The total spent on construction was just CAD $22 million.

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