With Crankworx taking over Whistler Village, local mountain bikers would normally have found themselves funneled into lengthy lift lines.
But not this year.
The Creekside gondola opened to mountain bike traffic at 10 a.m. Friday morning after a short ceremony honouring trail builders on Whistler Mountain, a "parade" with trail crew members riding down to the base in single file, and the official opening that came in the form of a log - not a ribbon - being cut.
Whistler Mountain Bike Park manager Brian Finestone said he wasn't entirely certain how things were going to come together with the aggressive timeline to get existing trails ready and the new Dusty's Downhill prepared. He said staffers worked 10-hour days, with many coming in on off-days, to get the project done just nine days after Whistler Blackcomb made the announcement.
"To get it all done, and to get it done at a level of quality that exceeded my expectations, I couldn't be happier," Finestone said. "The team that I have working for me are professionals. They build great trails and they weren't willing to put their names on anything less."
Whistler Blackcomb manager of business development Rob McSkimming said even though there will be only about a month of riding, the company will be analyzing everything closely in order to figure out how best to proceed with any expansion.
"We've got enough of the season for us to get a sense of how it's going and what's working. It will really help us with our long-term planning and help us figure out what we need to add in terms of trails, in terms of lift capacity," he said, noting there are 20 bike carriers installed with the potential to add more.
The gondola will remain open daily from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. until Sept. 7 and then weekends only until Sept. 20.