Whistler RCMP is investigating the vandalism of a Peak 2 Peak gondola cabin after a BASE jumper forced open the doors and leapt from approximately 436 metres to the Fitzsimmons Creek below. As a result, Whistler Blackcomb is considering additional security measures on gondola cabins.
It is believed the man landed safely.
When asked about the alleged incident, RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair would only say that police are investigating a serious mischief complaint from Feb. 6 in relation to some Whistler Blackcomb property. The Peak 2 Peak is owned and operated by Whistler Blackcomb.
RCMP and a Whistler Blackcomb patroller travelled to the landing zone in an effort to arrest the suspect but he was not apprehended despite an extensive search, Whistler Blackcomb said.
"It has been confirmed the doors and the opening and locking system of the cabin had been damaged," read a Whistler Blackcomb release. "Safety systems prevent the doors from opening on their own. Brute force and mechanical advantage was used to open the doors while the gondola was in motion."
The damaged cabin was pulled off the line for inspection upon its arrival to the Blackcomb station, according to the release. Lift maintenance staff noticed damage to the doors of two other cabins upon investigation that would be consistent with someone trying to pry them open, said WB lift maintenance manager Wayne Wiltse in an email. These attempts, which occurred prior to Thursday’s alleged incident, were not able to overcome any of the three internal locking mechanisms on the cabin doors.
“When a locking mechanism is damaged and not functioning properly the safety checks that occur in each terminal are designed to trip and not allow the cabin to leave the terminal,” Wiltse said. “This is what happened when the gondola cabin arrived at the Blackcomb terminal.”
Wiltse said WB is "absolutely" considering implementing additional security measures to prevent incidents like this in the future, but would not disclose what the measures may be at this time.
The estimated damage to the cabin is valued at $10,000, confirmed WB. The maximum penalty for mischief in relation to property exceeding $5,000 is 10 years in prison. Whistler Blackcomb said the suspect and any accomplices to the incident would also face a lifetime mountain ban. A female who was in the suspect’s cabin at the time of the jump was questioned by mountain staff on Blackcomb and escorted to the valley, Wiltse said.
A video titled "The McConkey" was posted to YouTube Feb. 8 by someone with the username "Graham Dickinson" showing a man with a GoPro camera fixed to his helmet BASE jumping from a gondola cabin. The Whistler Blackcomb logo is clearly visible on the cabin doors, which appear to have been physically pried open. The man is accompanied in the cabin by a female identified as "Kat" in the video, who is seen filming with a separate camera.
A second video posted Feb. 9 by a username “Graham D” shows what appears to be the same jump from a second camera. Both videos were made private within minutes of being posted on the Whistler Winter 2013/14 Facebook group on Tuesday, Feb. 11.
BASE jumpers Shane McConkey and Miles Daisher leaped from the Peak 2 Peak in 2008 in a jump that was sanctioned by Whistler Blackcomb to mark the gondola's opening.
The gondola is the highest lift of its kind in the world, and completes the longest continuous lift system. It takes 11 minutes to get from peak to peak.