With unparalleled views of the snowy peaks of Whistler, British Columbia, the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola is nothing short of awesome.
Breaking several world records, the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola boasts the title of “World’s largest unsupported span for a lift of its kind”, “World’s highest lift of its kind”, and “World’s longest continuous lift system”. The gondola links Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain, allowing visitors to travel to both mountains in a single visit, which eliminates the problem of having to decide which to spend one’s day on. With so much to see and do on each, you will want to make sure you explore both.
Each cabin holds up to 24 seated visitors, moving up to 4,100 people per hour. A new cabin arrives every 49 seconds, ensuring you won’t have to wait in line long for the experience. Every 15 minutes or so, a special silver cabin arrives; each of these cabins have thrilling glass bottom floor panels, allowing you to see through to the ground below. On our trip, we got in a special lineup to ride in one of these cabins, and it was well worth the wait. To be honest though, the regular cabin is pretty darn amazing as it is.
Once aboard, the gondola takes you on a breathtaking 4.4 km/ 2.73 mile journey. From start to finish, this takes about 11 minutes. Reaching heights of 436 meters/ 1,427 feet, the views from the gondola cabins are unrivaled. The large windows in each cabin allow for an optimal viewing experience, with spectacular views of both peaks.
We did our trip during the summer months, with the goal of hiking and sightseeing rather than skiing. Be sure to pick up a trail guide when you hop off the gondola – these let you know the length and difficulty of all of the hikes, as well as whether they are currently open or not. If you travel during the early summer months, keep in mind that some of the hiking trails will be restricted by the amount of snow covering both summits. That being said, we have visited in late June, and have had no shortage of hiking opportunities.
When you get to the top, you have the option of taking several different chairlifts to take you to various hiking trails. Make sure your kids hold on to their belongings, as things dropped off the gondolas are nearly impossible to recover. Our daughter learned this the hard way when, despite being warned to tie her jacket firmly around her waist, she decided to ignore our words of warning and dangle it off the side instead. The end result was a pretty upset and chilly kiddo for the rest of the journey.
At the top of the peak, be sure to snap a photo at the giant Whistler Mountain Inukshuk. It is believed that these stacked stone statues were once traditionally used as landmarks to guide the Inuit and other peoples of the North American Arctic regions through the harsh landscapes of the Great White North. The tall stone statues could be seen from far away, providing direction to those travelling long distances. Today, the Inukshuk has become an iconic, though unofficial, symbol of Canada, and of Whistler itself. This particular Inukshuk was built for the 2010 Olympic Games, and remains perched on a rock precipice, watching over Whistler Blackcomb. This Inukshuk has become one of the most photographed features of Whistler Mountain, so be sure to climb in front and take a selfie.
On your adventure, keep your eye out for the Hoary Marmot. These bulky ground squirrels live along the tree line, inhabiting the grassy slopes and rocky ledges. They have been nicknamed “Whistlers” after their high pitched warning calls; this is where the mountain got its name. The kids had fun hunting for these furry little guys, and had no problem spotting a few; they were even able to get close enough to snap a few pictures.
Hours of Operation:
The PEAK 2 PEAK gondola runs continuously throughout the day. Be sure to check the hours of operation when you arrive, as these change from season to season.
Adult: $49.95, Youth: 13-18 $42.92, Child 7-12: $24.95, Child 6 and under: Free
For more information:
Be sure to check out Tourism Whistler.
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