Winter Wrap Up 2009-2010

Mount Washington, Vancouver Island, BCMount Washington Alpine Resort’s 2009-10 winter season can be summed up in one word: SNOW!

The Resort got a lot of it, enough at the beginning of the season to open early, plenty for the January arrival of international athletes in pre-Olympic training and enough throughout the winter to stay open late into April.

Everything else fell into place around what Mother Nature provided, says Resort Director of Marketing, Brent Curtain.

“This was an unbelievable year,” Curtain said. “We received over four metres of snow before we started the lifts in late November. By the end of the season over 15 metres of snow fell on the mountain.”

By the time the powder settled, Mount Washington had enjoyed its second deepest snowfall ever. “The deepest season was 1998-99,” Curtain said. “That season the actual base topped 900 centimetres (or 18.5 metres of actual snowfall).”

This year the base topped out at 700 cm at the end of March. The mountain’s average snowfall is 10.5 metres.

Not many resorts in North America boasted those kinds of numbers this winter and with the world’s focus trained on the lack of snow at Cypress Mountain, an Olympic venue, the fact that Mount Washington did have snow hit the world stage.

“When you look at what was happening on the North Shore during the Olympics…we were getting tonnes of snow on Mount Washington,” Curtain said.

The Resort was also getting tonnes of media coverage, especially when Olympic training events had to be cancelled at Cypress, where they were trucking and flying in snow. Rumours were rampant that some of the events were going to be switched to Mount Washington. A reporter from Associated Press called Curtain saying the American wire service heard the Island Resort was in talks with VANOC officials.

“You had to laugh at the end of the day,” Curtain said. “Logistically it would never have happened. We never entered into talks with anyone.” Still, the media exposure was welcome, if not quite accurate.

“You can’t measure that kind of marketing. You couldn’t buy that kind of advertising or exposure. From that aspect it was huge and we were seeing an increase in traffic from the Lower Mainland and international visitors as well.”

Staff thought the Resort might get a lot of “Olympic aversion” traffic this winter, but didn’t anticipate how Canadians, and British Columbians in particular, would get into the Olympic party atmosphere.

“Definitely we saw big visits before and after.” In all, 340,000 skier visits were recorded in 2009-10. Good snow allowed the Resort to stay open until April 24.

“It was nice to see things fall into place for us this season,” Curtain said. “It was an interesting season because there were so many dynamic things happening around us, like the Olympics and the recession… people still aren’t spending as much as they were four or five years ago.”