The Whistler Mountain Village and Creekside gondolas sprang to life Saturday morning and for those who waited in the lift lines overnight it couldn’t happen soon enough.
Chris McLeod of the Whistler Blackcomb communications department said those who braved the elements through the night to be amongst the first gondola riders were rewarded with certificates for warm beverages. He said the winds were blowing on the mountain so those who spent the night in the lift line were happy to receive one of the certificates handed out in the two loading locations.
“Everyone was super excited,” said McLeod. “Everything went really smoothly.”
While the weather conditions on the first day included a freezing level of about 1,500 metres (just below the Chic Pea restaurant) and wet precipitation along with the wind, skiers like Colin, Robert, Chris and Michael all from Sweden said they were happy to be on the mountain. Chris said he was feeling sick but rode the gondola anyway.
“First day, I have to go,” he said after disembarking the gondola at noon. “Opening day – maybe a bad decision but overall worth it, definitely.”
His friends said it was cold, windy and wet with some long lineups in the morning but worth every moment.
Colin said he was done for the day and heading to his hot tub while Robert said the highlight of the day was making first tracks and trying out his gear for the first time.
Dave from Perth, Australia said he had a fantastic morning after arriving in Whistler just two months ago.
“It has been four years since I’ve last ridden,” Dave said. “Fantastic.”
He and his roommate slid into the gondola line at 4 a.m.
“I might not have gone to sleep last night so I might be a little tired tonight,” he said.
McLeod said the snow making team has been doing a good job of preparing Whistler Mountain for all those who stood in line through the night ahead of opening day.
“The runs that we had open were in really good shape,” he said. “We’re definitely counting on the storm to come through over the next few days to give us a little more snow off of those runs and get everything open.”
The alpine forecast is calling for snow right through to Wednesday with the freezing level fluctuating between 1,200 and 1,900 metres.
McLeod confirmed that a few first day riders experienced a minor delay when they discovered their Spirit passes were activated. Guest Services stepped up and took care of those people by giving them day passes so they wouldn’t miss the thrill of being part of opening day.
“There were some people who just finished off their Spirit Course on Wednesday and generally it takes about 48 hours to get their passes processed from the time that they do that,” said McLeod. “As long as people had done their Spirit Course we were just giving them day passes to get up there.”
He said the pass administration team is moving as quickly as possible to process all the Spirit Passes.