A bad knee is keeping Christine Eckersley from hiking up the Stawamus Chief, so the Squamish resident is looking forward to checking out the Sea to Sky Gondola when it opens May 16.
"I had a knee replacement so I'm keenly looking forward to the opening of the gondola," said Eckersley from her downtown Squamish office.
"I think I could hike up the Chief," she said. "But, I'm worried I wouldn't be able to hike back down."
The gondola is between Shannon Falls and the Stawamus Chief so the view from the lodge at the summit is very similar to the views Eckersley could enjoy if her knee allowed her to reach the top of the Chief.
For gondola general manager, Jayson Faulkner, the May opening day has been three years in the making.
"It's the first day of the rest of our lives," said Faulkner. "We're excited about it."
A long list of local politicians, Squamish Nation leaders, provincial government officials and business leaders have all been invited to a grand opening event at 10 a.m. on May 16. An opening ceremony is planned, then the invited guests will take the 885-metre gondola ride up to the lodge at the summit, where a panoramic view awaits.
"It's a very big view from Mamquam all the way around to Goat Ridge and Sky Pilot behind," said Faulkner of the view from the summit. "It's dramatic, it's got to be the best place in the corridor to sit and have a glass of wine or beer after an adventure."
To be fully prepared for the grand opening when the gondola cars start taking paying customers up the mountain Faulkner and his team will go through a hiring frenzy.
"It's going to be a beautiful place to work," Faulkner said. "It's going to be one of the world's most beautiful commutes when you get to ride up that gondola each morning on your way to work up at the top."
The leadership team at the Sea to Sky Gondola hosted a two-day job fair April 4 and 5. The event at the Executive Inn was billed as an annual event. Faulkner said he's looking for full-time employees, part timers and volunteer workers.
The paid work includes jobs relating to food service, ticket sales, guest services, parking logistics, bus driving, guiding and lift operations. The list also includes photographers and photo sales agents.
"There's a little over 70 full-time equivalent positions that we're hiring for," Faulkner said. "With part-timers and volunteer positions, that rounds out to a little over to 100 people that we'll have on the employee roster at peak period."
For Eckersley, it means she'll be able to enjoy a view she can't otherwise get to.
"(And) they have some hiking trails up at the top," she said. "I'm looking forward to that as well."