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Sea to Sky Gondola sabotaged, concludes report

Technical Safety B.C. says the haul rope was deliberately cut, resulting in approximately 30 gondola cabins falling to the ground.
photo Sea to Sky gondola
A gondola car rests on its side on the mountain after a cable snapped overnight at the Sea to Sky Gondola causing cable cars to crash to the ground below in Squamish, B.C., on Saturday, August 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER — The rope on the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish was deliberately cut, a report by Technical Safety B.C. confirmed Wednesday.

The safety authority, which launched an investigation following the collapse of the gondola on Aug. 10, says there were no defects with the haul rope or the design of the haul rope that contributed to its separation.

The report concludes that the haul rope was deliberately cut, resulting in about 30 gondola cabins falling to the ground, causing damage beyond repair.

It says the haul rope came off of the sheave assemblies at numerous towers and was suspended within trees at locations along the length of the gondola path.

The incident happened just hours before the popular attraction was set to open to hundreds of visitors.

Squamish Mounties investigating the case had said they believed it was deliberately cut in an isolated act.

Investigators have not said whether they have any suspects.

The report says that as the person cut the wires, more wires failed from being either partially cut or becoming overloaded.

Given the number of wires partially cut in these last remaining strands, it is likely that these strands failed and the haul rope separated during the cutting action, the report said.

Some information in the report has been redacted so as not to interfere with the RCMP investigation.

Jeff Coleman, director of risk and safety knowledge at Technical Safety B.C., said the rope wires were “substantially cut” while under tension. “Once a sufficient number of wire strands had been cut, the remaining rope segment yielded under the tension from the non-operating gondola,” he said in a statement.

Coleman said cutting the rope was an “extremely dangerous act” that could have caused serious injury or even death to those involved.

A criminal investigation into the sabotage of the gondola is ongoing, and anyone with information is asked to call the RCMP’s tip line at 604-892-6122.

Meantime, the operators of the Sea to Sky Gondola say the attraction likely won’t reopen until next spring. The company said it’s hopeful it can open in early 2020, but that depends on the delivery of a replacement cable and cabins from Europe.

The company has said the damage will reach into the millions of dollars.

The Sea to Sky Gondola officially opened in 2014 and carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people who visit the gondola every day during the summer season, with each cabin holding up to eight people. When in operation, it takes around 10 minutes to reach an elevation of 885 metres above Howe Sound.