Completed Inland Island Highway shortens trip to Mt. Washington

Four lanes of blacktop now lead to Mt. Washington. The days of the old ?goat trail? that wound its gravelly way, seemingly around every tree, from the base of the road 18 kilometres upwards to the lodge were but a memory last September, when the last section of the Inland Island Highway - linking the Comox Valley to Campbell River - officially opened.

The new Inland Island Highway now rolls four lanes of freeway right to the base of Mt. Washington. Those arriving by vehicle from all points of the Island will find their journey to be not only quicker but also less of a hassle.

?The day it opened, I was out there with a stopwatch,? Mt. Washington general manager Peter Gibson said. ?It?s six minutes from Cumberland to the bottom of the hill, 16 minutes from the bottom of the hill to the Campbell River Airport. That?s a big, big improvement.?

Nanaimo visitors will be on the slopes in 90 minutes, while Victoria skiers are only an hour further down the highway.

The paving continues all the way up the mountain on the Strathcona Parkway, ending in a brand new paved entrance way and revitalized parking lot.

Departure is eased by a new, circular turnaround in front of the Alpine Lodge.

Also new this year is Mt. Washington?s own bus company, which will be operating a shuttle service from downtown Courtenay.

Blacktop isn?t the only way to get to Mt. Washington. WestJet Airlines began service to Comox Municipal Airport in March 2001 with direct service from Comox to Calgary. Now, Calgarians are just two hours away from a sea-to-sky, golf-and-ski experience in the near-tropical climes of the Comox Valley (well, tropical compared to a typical mid-winter day in Calgary!).

Mt. Washington offers shuttle service from the Comox airport to the ski hill for WestJet customers. Check out the flight schedule at www.westjet.com, or phone toll-free 1-800-538-5696.