Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Early winter at the Sea to Sky Gondola near Squamish, B.C.

 by Keith and Heather Nicol
 On Sunday, December 21 we decided to check out the Sea to Sky Gondola which is located near Squamish, B.C. Although the weather was not ideal, the web cam from the summit lodge showed views of Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains. We had visited the Sea to Sky Gondola in May 2014 when it first opened and were blown away with the great views from the deck as well as the varied vistas from its walking trails. We arrived at the base after a quick 45 minute drive from Vancouver and were curious to see if the weather would hold. We put on our hiking boots and grabbed an extra layer and took the 10 minute gondola ride to the top. We entered a cloud layer and thought that would be the end of the visibility but a few minutes later we emerged from the clouds and arrived at the spectacular summit lodge. 
Taking a photo of Howe Sound from the suspension bridge

Looking around we could see that winter was “on hold” and that the tubing, snowshoeing and backcountry skiing activities that are planned would have to wait until the typical snow base began to build up. But the lack of snow meant that the walking trails could be explored in regular hiking boots and we walked across the suspension bridge and did the short .4 km Spirit Trail followed by the 1.6 km Panorama trail. The clouds prevented views of the higher peaks but the swirling clouds below meant the views were constantly changing and gave an almost magical feeling to our trek. 
Walking along the popular Panoroma Trail
 After our walk we headed into the cozy summit lodge where we ran into mountain host Ray Wilburn. He told us that the summer season had been amazing with visitation up 40% over what they had expected. He also told us that this is their first winter of operation and that they are hoping to offer tubing and snowshoeing on a regular basis. “As well the summit lodge can act as a jumping off point for people who want to do backcountry snowshoeing and backcountry skiing ” Ray added.  For more information about what holiday events are planned and other details about this great new visitor service see:  http://www.seatoskygondola.com/   We can’t wait to visit in the next couple of months when some of the main winter activities are in full swing. 
The gondolas whisk you to the top in just 10 minutes

You can grab a light meal in the well appointed Summit Lodge

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