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Published: February 11th 2010
With the Olympics officially starting on Friday, there is a scurry of final preparations going on around Whistler, where many of the skiing and all of the sliding events are taking place. Whistler is a huge mountain resort about an hour drive north of Vancouver. Unfortunately, I drove the gorgeous stretch of the Sea to Sky highway at night, because it is supposed to be an amazingly beautiful drive. That will have to wait for another time. Meanwhile, I’m up in Whistler, getting my bearings and figuring out this entire “Olympics” thing.
One fantastic thing I did today, was to jump on board the unique gondola that was opened in December, 2008. This isn’t just a chairlift with a protective cover, like some versions of chairlifts. This was one of the most amazing machines I’ve ever seen.
The Whistler-Blackcomb ski area is made up of 2 mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb (that was easy, right). They are huge, hulking mountains that sit directly next to each other and are made to look even more drastic against the deep valley separating the two. Both mountains are a part of the same resort, but have always been too difficult to travel between
the two, until the Peak to Peak opened.
It is described as sitting “on the shoulders of giants.” That couldn’t be more true. This gondola begins on top of Whistler mountain, and travels to the top of Blackcomb mountain, over that drastic river valley I told you about. Yes, I rode on that today!
For 11 minutes, I dangled 1472 feet in the air, in a metal box going 7.5 meters per second, hanging from three strings nearly two miles (1.88 to be exact) from their nearest support pole. Okay, it wasn’t as simple as I make it sound, it was far more complex than I could even imagine. I couldn’t help but think about how amazing this contraption is as I floated, feeling far more safe than I should have, between these two peaks. It was unnerving, amazing, and unbelievable. So amazing, that it is difficult to describe.
It sets three world records: 1) Longest unsupported span of 3.024 kilometres or 1.88 miles, 2) highest lift of its kind at 436 metres or 1,472 feet, above the valley floor, and 3) the completes the longest continuous lift system on the globe. That’s not even mentioning the
fact that it travels at almost 25 feet per second… PER SECOND! Wow… that’s impressive.
What is more impressive are the pictures. I gathered a few of these from the photo site Flickr and the Whistler Media Center. Tomorrow I head down into Vancouver to see how the city is getting ready for the big day! And I know all of you are eagerly waiting trivia results... well, I'm just going to keep you in suspense for another day!
*If you are curios about the Peak to Peak, this website has a lot of information for you. Click here
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