British Columbia

Vandalized Sea to Sky Gondola takes delivery of new 4 km cable

Police say the original cable was intentionally severed in August, bringing 30 gondola cars crashing to the ground and causing millions of dollars in damage.

Swiss-manufactured cable to replace original that was maliciously cut in August, causing millions in damage

The cable for the Sea to Sky Gondola has arrived in Squamish and will replace the one that was maliciously cut on Aug. 10. (Sea to Sky Gondola)

The downed Sea to Sky Gondola is another step closer to being fixed thanks to the arrival of kilometres of new cable from Switzerland to replace the one that was maliciously cut in August.

Photos posted on the company's Facebook page show the four-kilometre, 120-tonne cable being delivered to the base of the gondola near Squamish, B.C.

General manager Kirby Brown says it's a major milestone toward the goal of reopening the attraction by next spring.

"It's just a nice lift for everyone to see that shiny, brand new spool of rope sitting in the parking lot," said Brown.

Police have determined the original cable was intentionally severed in the early morning hours of Aug. 10, bringing 30 gondola cars crashing to the ground and causing millions of dollars in damage.

A Technical Safety B.C. photo shows part of the severed gondola cable. (Technical Safety BC)

No suspects have been arrested and the criminal investigation is ongoing.

Brown says a team of international rope experts will begin splicing the new cable onto the old one in the next days in a highly technical procedure. The new cable will then be threaded through the gondola towers to create a continuous loop.

The new cable weighs 120 tonnes and was fabricated in Switzerland. (Sea to Sky Gondola)

Thirty new gondola cars will be added later. 

An investigation by Technical Safety B.C. found that a vandal or vandals cut through a number of strands of the old cable, likely after climbing a maintenance ladder on one of the towers. Once a critical number of strands were severed, the tension caused the entire cable to snap.

The towers along the gondola route are accessible from nearby hiking trails. The company says they now have new security measures in place.

The Sea to Sky Gondola is located near Squamish, B.C. (Ben Nelms for CBC News)

The two-kilometre long gondola, located off Highway 99 near the Stawamus Chief, is a major tourist attraction carrying 400,000 visitors annually up the steep mountainside above Howe Sound.

According to Brown, the cutting of the cable forced the immediate layoff of 75 seasonal staff. He estimates the overall cost of the vandalism and repairs to be somewhere between $5 million and $10 million.

The attraction expects to be back up and running by spring 2020. (Sea to Sky Gondola)

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.