A young couple who were refused a ride on the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish on Sunday ended up needing to be rescued.
After a nearly six-hour hike to the top of the trail, the couple was refused a gondola ride down and were forced to descend the mountain on foot.
On Monday, Shelbee Fulton shared on social media what she calls the “most physically and emotionally exhausting experience.”
Fulton said it usually takes her and her boyfriend, Clay Jalava, four hours to hike the Squamish trail, but because of the winter conditions, it took them nearly six.
“By the time we got to the gondola at the top, I was in tears because I was so sore and exhausted,” Fulton said in a Facebook post.
The pair brought $40 to buy a ticket for a ride down, but were told they had to also pay a $20 fee because they were almost an hour late for the last gondola at 5 p.m.
Fulton says they were directed to the nearest ATM, but it was out of service. The attendant said he would call someone to see if the couple could board the gondola, but later told them they would need to walk back down the mountain.
“I suggested we pay at the bottom, but he said no,” said Fulton. “We were going to have to walk back down the mountain via the service road, a near 11-km walk, downhill, in the snow and ice, and it was about one hour until sundown.”
Jalava tried to explain to the attendant, to no avail.
“I instantly fell to the ground crying,” she said. “Clay comforted me for a few minutes before telling me we had to start walking.”
In a statement, the Sea to Sky Gondola said they are reviewing the situation and their after-hours operation policy.
“We acknowledge that we should have downloaded the two hikers who arrived after we had closed for the day,” said the statement, meaning to give them a ride down. “We are treating this incident seriously.”
The couple called their parents, who reported the incident to the RCMP.
Squamish RCMP said they were contacted around 7 p.m. about two hikers that required assistance and had “no food, no water, and did not have the appropriate clothing.”
Squamish Search and Rescue were contacted and found the pair after they had already walked down much of the trail, falling several times.
“We were cold as hell, my lips were blue. I cried the entire way down,” Fulton said. “I’m so disappointed and sad that someone could do this to someone else. We’re just kids, and it was obvious that we were in no condition and not prepared to walk another 11k.”