[R493R, Whistler Blackcomb]'s new Peak 2 Peak Gondola is the first lift of its kind in North America. The resort plans to celebrate with an official ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, Dec. 12, at 11 a.m., then send the first guests across the 2.73-mile span between the mountains.

Launch ceremonies will take place at both Peak 2 Peak Gondola terminal buildings atop Whistler and Blackcomb with DJs and emcees communicating between them. Video screens will connect the action in two terminals with a giant LED screen on Whistler and four plasma screens in the Blackcomb terminal.

The ceremony plans include speeches from dignitaries, the ribbon cutting, and final countdown to launching the first red cars. Those not in attendance can catch a live webcast of the launch on their site.

The Roundhouse Lodge plans to hold an open house Dec. 12-14 featuring paintings from the Peak 2 Peak Gondola Launch Commemorative Poster Art Competition. A section of the lodge will include displays illustrating details of the construction process.

Après ski festivities continue in the Skiers Plaza with music, video screens and, if weather permits, a fire and ice show. Copies of the limited edition commemorative poster by local artist Vanessa Stark will be available on launch day for guests to pick up at Village, Creekside, and Blackcomb base locations.

The 11-minute ride between the two mountains will now permit skiers and riders to hit the powder in Symphony Amphitheater and Seventh Heaven without the time-eating trip through the base area.