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Top of the World

by Melissa Brunner

A few of us were late to lunch today, but we used an exhilarating experience as our excuse!

Our big activity in Whistler was a trip up Whistler and Blackcomb mountains on the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. It is the longest and highest lift in the world. The gondolas are rather large, with capacity for 28 people. The journey from one peak to the other takes 11 minutes, with a cabin departing every 49 seconds, meaning as many as 4100 passengers can move between Whistler and Blackcomb each hour. The total distance is 2.73 miles and 1.88 miles of that is an unsupported span. If Whistler Mountain sounds vaguely familiar, that's because it was the site of many of the skiing events in the 2010 Olympics.

All of that is impressive and offered amazing views of the town of Whistler far below. But it was a rugged path to the side that caught the attention of a quartet of us. It let to the Peak Express, an open-air chair lift that takes you to the summit of Whistler Mountain, an elevation of 7087 feet. It took a little time to get down the fairly steep, rocky path to get to the lift entrance, but we made it and hopped on a chair for the ten-minute ride to the top.

Stepping off the lift truly took your breath away. We were above the snow and glaciers that dot the higher points of Whistler Mountain. Stepping onto the summit revealed a whole line of peaks that Whistler had been hiding from our view. You really felt like you were on top of the world!

We spent about five minutes staring, taking pictures, staring some more, then hopped on the chair for the ride back down. Adrenaline from what we had seen carried us through the uphill climb to the gondola which took us back to the mountain's base.

The side journey made us about a half hour late meeting the rest of our group for lunch, but they were just finishing up serving meals and already had our orders, so we didn't throw things too out of whack and our tour guide knew where we were so she wasn't panicked! Besides, we were giddy from what we'd just seen - who can be upset at that?!

Get a look at photos from the visit at www.facebook.com/WIBWMelissaBrunner.

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