Blackcomb gondola tower collapses

A tower on the Excalibur Gondola, which carries skiers and snowboarders from Whistler Village up Blackcomb Mountain, collapsed on Tuesday afternoon, leaving at least four gondola cars down and prompting an emergency response from a variety of local agencies.

No injuries have yet been confirmed in the mishap, which occurred on Tuesday at around 2:25 p.m. An eyewitness who spoke on condition of anonymity, who was skiing to the base of Whistler Mountain when the gondola collapsed, said one gondola car was suspended above Fitzsimmons Creek while a second was perched on the corner of a bus shelter in the Gondola Transit Loop.

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She said another car appears to have crashed into the roof of a house and what appeared to be a pair of skis was sticking out of a skylight. She couldn't see a fourth car but she assumed it was on the ground.

RCMP Sgt. Steve Wright told The Question that there were no injuries in the two gondolas that were visible from his vantage point, and that emergency crews were working to find a way to get the people in those cars out safely.

"The fire department is trying to figure out how to get the people out of the car above the creek," Sgt. Wright said. "There are no injuries in any of the cars affected."

A crowd of skiers gathered above a fence on Blackcomb, near the accident, to watch what was going on. The gondola above Base II, which had stopped for a time after the accident, was running again by 3:15 p.m., downloading those who had been in other cars at the time of the accident.

As she watched emergency crews work, the witness said she saw a yellow emergency vehicle extend out a robotic arm in what she guess an attempt to stabilize the tower or cable enough to allow crews to get passengers out of the suspended cars.

The witness said Tower 4 appeared to have snapped off, leaving about half of its base still standing. "They have chained up the cables to Towers 2 and 3 so that the cable has something holding it up if it starts to drop.

"It's going to be awhile before they can get anyone out of any gondola."

The witness said she was skiing to the base of Whistler Mountain when the accident occurred. She said she and other bystanders were shocked at what happened.

"I was skiing out at the Whistler side, coming out where the ambulances come in by the bus loop, and I looked up and there was a helicopter flying. I don't know if it has anything to do with what's happened.

"I must have skied up maybe 30 seconds to a minute later. Everyone was in shock; they didn't know what was going on."

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