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Hikers and the Sea to Sky Gondola

March 22, 2019, 10:04 a.m.
Posts: 11030
Joined: June 29, 2006

I am sure you have all heard this story on the news.  A couple and their dog hiked up to the top of the gondola and were refused a download because they didn't have the cash on them to pay first even though they could have paid at the bottom.  Clearly, the staff at the Gondola royally fucked up, but I am having a tough time feeling too bad for the couple that arrived an hour after the gondola closed and didn't have the proper gear or food and water.  Am I just a callous bastard for thinking they should have turned around and started hiking back down when it became abundantly obvious that they were not going to make the last chair?  This should have been clear about 2/3 of the way in.

Nanu Nanu

March 22, 2019, 10:28 a.m.
Posts: 1282
Joined: Sept. 30, 2006

I saw that story too.  Im not sure of all the facts, but from what I remember hearing, they did have the $15 each required for the download.  They did arrive after the last official car on the gondola, but it was still running.  Apparently the price goes up if you have to download after the last car, and they only had the $15 each.  I guess the gondola staff stood firm and wouldnt let them download without the full payment.  I see both parties at fault on this one.  The hikers should have been better planned and prepared, and the gondola company should have been a bit more understanding.  Again, Im not sure if all the info I have is true, but that is what I took from the reporting I heard.

March 22, 2019, 11:32 a.m.
Posts: 11030
Joined: June 29, 2006

That is more or less how I see it too.  I just felt like going on a rant after reading about it and nobody seemed to point a finger at the hikers for making several bad decisions and exercising absolutely no due diligence.  Of course, the trail was icy, it snowed 2 freaking weeks ago.

March 22, 2019, 12:37 p.m.
Posts: 750
Joined: March 15, 2013

Is being a stickler about the rules more important than the safety of 2 poorly prepared people?

March 22, 2019, 12:41 p.m.
Posts: 11030
Joined: June 29, 2006

Posted by: thaaad

Is being a stickler about the rules more important than the safety of 2 poorly prepared people?


March 22, 2019, 1:48 p.m.
Posts: 1158
Joined: March 18, 2017

SAR should bill out the fucking cunts at S2S Gondola for that one.

March 22, 2019, 2:15 p.m.
Posts: 1603
Joined: Aug. 6, 2009

Yes, they should have realized that they needed to turn around, but people make bad decisions while hiking all the time.  Just ask anyone who volunteers for NSR.  On the other hand, it would have literally cost the gondola nothing to give them a ride down since it was still running.

I was once in a similar situation on Grouse when a friend and I went to climb the Widowmaker Arete on Crown Mtn.  We started early, before the gondola was open, hiking up the Grouse Grind, out to Crown Pass, and down to the base of the Arete in Hanes Valley.  We get all the way up to the last pitch below the Camel and find that it is harder climbing than we are capable of.  It's late afternoon, so we know we'll be hiking out in the dark, but we've got headlamps and know the trail, so no big deal.  We reverse the route, down climbing and rappelling back to the valley. Hike back up to Crown Pass, Little Goat, Dam Mtn, and finally down to the Chalet, arriving at 11:30PM, fully expecting that we'll be hiking down the Grouse Grind as well.  But we see the gondola is still running, so we go inside to ask about getting a ride.  It turns out there is a wedding reception in full swing.  Technically the gondola is closed, but the bartender takes our $5 each, radios the gondola operator, and sends us over.  At midnight, we're back at the parking lot.

One of the best adventures I've had on the North Shore.

March 22, 2019, 2:49 p.m.
Posts: 1282
Joined: Sept. 30, 2006

I think there must be something missing to the story. Hard to believe the gondola operators would refuse them a ride if it was still running given the circumstances. They would have known the people would have to be hiking down a trail not recommended for descent and late in the day. They would likely also be able to visually assess that the hikers might not have been prepared for the hike back down.

Edit - Re reading the article it doesnt say if the gondola was still running. I guess it is possible it wasnt? I assume it would have to be at some point to get the people who work at the top back down. Also didnt realize they hiked back down the access road (which is longer but perhaps faster than the S2S trail?)

 Last edited by: shoreboy on March 22, 2019, 3:01 p.m., edited 2 times in total.
March 22, 2019, 3:27 p.m.
Posts: 1603
Joined: Aug. 6, 2009

S2S admits their people made a bad decision:

[The hikers were] tired and hungry, and it was after hours. And they were quite obviously ill-prepared to walk out. We should have downloaded them. So, it’s a moment of learning for us,” explained Kirby Brown, General Manager of the Sea to Sky Gondola.

Brown said that, while measures are in place to deter hikers from arriving late at the Sea to Sky Gondola—and expecting a lift down—after operating hours, Fulton and Jalava never should have been instructed to make the trek by foot.

Sea to Sky Gondola staff, including the operators who were on shift on Sunday, will now receive upgraded training and guidance on how to handle making judgment calls in similar situations going forward.

March 22, 2019, 3:48 p.m.
Posts: 1599
Joined: July 11, 2014

chupacabra I'm with you, the hikers are ill prepared morons and I can't believe they went to the news/public with this story, they should be embarrassed. Of course they have no humility and admit no fault in being ill prepared. The bit about the girl falling to the ground and crying at the prospect of an 11km FSR walk by the car (in good weather)? WTF? 

All that aside, S2S fucked up from a publicity perspective. They probably had shut down for operations for the day and have SOP about loading/unloading guests, maybe there is required safety procedures to "Re-open" the lift for guests to use even if it is still spinning? Otherwise they could be creating liability. 

They had no choice but to admit they were wrong, but the public backlash and ZERO acknowledgement of the utter failure of these hikers is troubling. It will just encourage more idiots to take stupid risks... same as the attitude that SAR is there to bail you out.

March 22, 2019, 4:10 p.m.
Posts: 1756
Joined: Feb. 26, 2015

Took them 6 hours to do the 7.5 km hike to the top? That's uber slow.  48 mins per km, were they crawling?

Weak, crying to the media, entitlement to the max. Hope the selfies at the top received lots of likes. That's what really counts.

People always ask me what's the phenomenon
Yo what's up? Yo what's goin' on- Adam Yauch

March 22, 2019, 6:13 p.m.
Posts: 1282
Joined: Sept. 30, 2006

Posted by: Brocklanders

Took them 6 hours to do the 7.5 km hike to the top? That's uber slow. 48 mins per km, were they crawling?

Weak, crying to the media, entitlement to the max. Hope the selfies at the top received lots of likes. That's what really counts.

Average time is 3-4 hrs apparently (I havent hiked it). They encountered snow and less than ideal conditions so 6 isnt out of the question. Im not defending their choices, but I can see how it might take that long. S2S gondola admitted they have a punitive fee for downloading hikers after closing time to discourage late comers from abusing the system. Its not as if they refused to pay.  The ATM at the top was not functioning, and they were told they were not allowed to pay at the bottom when they downloaded.  Again, they were ill prepared and were not planning to hike back down and both parties deserve some blame, but S2S gondola messed up on this one in my opinion.

 Last edited by: shoreboy on March 22, 2019, 6:19 p.m., edited 1 time in total.
March 22, 2019, 6:14 p.m.
Posts: 5843
Joined: April 10, 2005

Most of the blame has to lay on the hikers. That said, how would S2S Gondola feel if one of them got hurt hiking back down?

March 22, 2019, 6:36 p.m.
Posts: 3715
Joined: Aug. 22, 2005

Let the dog on, the owners are too dumb to live.

March 22, 2019, 8:24 p.m.
Posts: 33521
Joined: Nov. 19, 2002

Next time I miss the last bus home I'll make that TransLink hears from every trash media outlet.

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