A new report released by Technical Safety BC determined the Sea to Sky Gondola was deliberately cut, and not due to defects or the design of the gondola.
"The haul rope was cut while under tension, likely from the tower [redacted]. Once a sufficient number of wire strands were cut, the remaining rope segment yielded under the tension from the non-operating gondola," the report states.
"Cutting the haul rope was an extremely dangerous act," Technical Safety B.C. director of risk and safety knowledge, Jeff Coleman, said in a press release. "The resulting tension overload that caused many of the individual steel wires and the rope to snap while being cut could have resulted in serious injury or even death to those involved. Anyone close to the gondola when this occurred could have been seriously hurt or killed."
The report continues to say one separated end of the haul rope [cable] was found near the cliff base, and the other was uphill.
A failure analysis "concluded that the majority of the haul rope wires were substantially cut prior to complete failure of the wire rope. Many individual wires failed in tension as the cutting action progressed… As the load was redistributed, the final remaining portions of the last two of six wire strands became overloaded and failed in tension, resulting in full separation of the haul rope."
The report also says a materials and construction analysis found no evidence that the cable was defective. The separation, or cut, was not near the splice where the intertwined wires making up the cable connect. The cut, the report said, was also not near "a known damaged area on the rope being monitored".
"There were no defects with the haul rope or the design of the gondola haul rope that contributed to its separation," the report said.
A public copy of the report does not include where the cut was made along the line, but notes the towers holding the gondola are accessible from hiking trails and "there were no barriers preventing access to the tower ladders."
On Aug. 10, the gondola cable and cabins were discovered on the forest floor, with many of the cabins damaged beyond repair. On Aug. 23 Squamish RCMP confirmed the cable had been deliberately cut. Since then, RCMP have not released any new details of the criminal investigation, which is ongoing.
Technical Safety BC is working with the RCMP in their investigation. Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the tip line at 604-892-6122 or anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS.