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A firm foundation: Base station on track for new Grouse Mountain gondola

Grant Cameron
A firm foundation: Base station on track for new Grouse Mountain gondola
COURTESY GROUSE MOUNTAIN SKI RESORT — A foundation has been poured and concrete forms erected for what will soon be a new base station for the gondola at Grouse Mountain ski resort. The entire project entails the installation of 14 towers that will support the gondola system and 27 gondola cabins. The system will have a one-way journey time of 5.5 minutes and capacity of 1,000 people per hour.

A self-erecting crane towers over the construction site nestled next to a parking lot area amidst the pine trees of the North Shore Mountains at Grouse Mountain ski resort near Vancouver.

A foundation has been poured and concrete forms erected for what will soon be a new base station, part of a $35-million transformational renovation and lift replacement project at the resort that will include a new gondola linking the parking lot and base station to the peak of the mountain.

The project will complement an existing Red Skyride and replace an older Blue Skyride. It entails the installation of 14 towers that will support the gondola system and 27 gondola cabins. The system will have a one-way journey time of 5.5 minutes and capacity of 1,000 people per hour.

“The project is very much on track and the main focus is currently on the structure of the base station,” says Michael Cameron, president of the resort. “We are looking to complete all of the concrete work by the end of March before we put the terminal in place in May. The foundations for seven of the towers have already been completed, and we will start on the next seven in the spring. This will involve using helicopters to transport the concrete into place.

“Nine of the towers will also be flown into place via helicopter, with four to be placed using cranes.”

Towers will range in height from 5.3 to 26 metres, depending on the location and profile of the path up the mountain.

 

A plateau station, which forms the base of the gondola station, will feature a parking garage for storage of the cabins in inclement weather. The garage will be big enough to house 41 cabins.
COURTESY GROUSE MOUNTAIN SKI RESORT — A plateau station, which forms the base of the gondola station, will feature a parking garage for storage of the cabins in inclement weather. The garage will be big enough to house 41 cabins.

 

Construction on the project began in fall 2022 and has been ongoing since then. The plan is to begin testing the new gondola system this fall and open it to the public by the winter.

The project is one of Grouse Mountain’s most expensive capital investments in decades and will mark the start of a new chapter for the resort leading up to its centennial in 2026.

Family-owned Northland Properties, which operates the resort, is funding the project. Leitner-Poma, an industry leading aerial lift manufacturer, was hired for construction of the gondola.

Cameron says the new gondola system will enable Grouse Mountain to return to its original capacity when the Blue and Red Skyrides were both operational. The Blue Skyride is set for decommissioning.

“The goal of the new gondola is to provide a significantly enhanced guest experience by reducing lineups and wait times to access and egress the mountain. With the new gondola, the mountain will return to just above its original capacity when the blue and red trams were initially opened.”

According to Cameron, the construction project consists of five phases: clearing of the gondola easement area; building of the foundations for both the base and plateau stations; assembly of the towers and line work; system testing; and opening.

A plateau station, which forms the base of the gondola station, will feature a parking garage for storage of the cabins in inclement weather. The garage will be big enough to house 41 cabins.

Construction of the plateau station was put on hold at the start of winter but significant progress has been made since work began, including completion of all civil works, the parking garage and platform.

Predictably, with the gondola project running up the side of a 1,230-metre mountain, there are construction challenges.

“While completing a construction project on top of a mountain is no easy feat, with the help of gravel and sand storage, and a temporary concrete mixing plant close to the pour site of the plateau station, our amazing crews have been able to ensure there has been minimal impact to our guests,” explains Cameron. “These temporary structures were all removed prior to the opening of our current winter season.

“Weather is our main challenge, but we’re lucky that we can continue to work on the project while the resort is open and have been able to split the work seasonally.”

With the resort approaching its 100th anniversary in 2026, Cameron is thrilled with the strides being made in the ongoing evolution of the project.

“Since the world’s first double chairlift was built at the resort in 1949, Grouse Mountain has had a rich history of investing in modern recreational technology,” he says. “The installation of the new gondola is the latest development to further enhance our four-season operations to welcome both the local and global community.

Once the new gondola opens, Grouse Mountain will be in a unique position in that it will be able to offer a journey to the top of the peak via the gondola, or via the Red Skyride, North America’s largest aerial tramway system which uses two fixed cables and two large passenger cabins to provide visitors with panoramic views of the City of Vancouver, says Cameron.

“Operating on a continuous loop, the gondola will provide a different perspective of those views, without the wait times.”

 

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