UPDATE at 4 pm: In a press conference, Squamish RCMP said they believe the gondola line was cut in an act of sabotage. The investigation continues; hikers and campers in the area at the time with any information are being asked to come forward.
UPDATE at 12:40 pm: Squamish RCMP have taken over the investigation. They have indicated they will examine all possibilities, including “those of criminal nature.”
The popular Sea to Sky Gondola attraction near Squamish has been shuttered due to a significant failure in the gondola line system, resulting in the collapse of the line and sending cabins to the ground.
The incident occurred during the early morning hours of Saturday.
- Police investigation suggests Sea to Sky Gondola collapse was sabotage
- RCMP takes over Sea to Sky Gondola collapse investigation
- Sea to Sky Gondola increases its carrying capacity by 50% with more cabins
- 2.5-km-long spiral elevated walkway coming to Sea to Sky Gondola
Photos posted onto social media show the extent of the significant damage to the gondola line.
— Squamish RCMP (@SquamishRCMP) August 10, 2019
— John Barry (@tx_john) August 10, 2019
Photo of the broken cable at the gondola pic.twitter.com/3LFdFNNWwh
— oplopanax.cs (@lithohedron) August 10, 2019
Gondola operators say the attraction is closed for the foreseeable future.
In an issued statement, operators said they received an alert at approximately 4:30 am that “the haul rope for Sea to Sky Gondola had fallen and the lift was inoperable.”
They confirmed that no guests or staff were on the gondola, and no injuries were sustained in the incident.
Few details are available at this time; operators say they will provide updates as they become available.
Provincial safety investigators with Technical Safety BC have been deployed to the scene to investigate the incident.
“Technical Safety BC is aware of the incident at the Sea to Sky Gondola earlier this morning,” reads a statement from Technical Safety BC.
“Our safety officers are currently investigating the incident. We’re unable to speculate on causes until after our investigation is complete.”
Earlier this year, 10 additional cabins were added to the gondola line, increasing the total number of cabins to 30. The gondola line infrastructure was designed with the capability of additional cabins, and this increased the system’s carrying capacity by 50%.
The gondolas, both old and new, were fabricated by Austrian manufacturer Doppelmayr and feature floor to ceiling Plexiglass windows.
Each one-way gondola ride to an elevation 885 metres above the sea level of Howe Sound takes 10 minutes. It provides access to the summit’s sightseeing experiences, including viewing platforms, a suspension bridge, walking trails, and dining facilities at the summit lodge.
The added gondola capacity also came ahead of the scheduled spring 2020 opening of the new major summit attraction — a 2.5-km-long spiral elevated walkway that stands at over 34 metres in height to provide 360-degree panoramic views.
This is not the first incident with the Sea to Sky Gondola’s gondola line. Prior to its spring 2014 opening, one of the cabins fell off from the cable during testing.