Great Weather = An Eventful Summer
Mountain biking, weddings, events, even snow, drove another strong summer season for Mount Washington Alpine Resort.
The Bike Park has always had strong support, and this year was no different, Resort Director of Public Relations and Promotions Brent Curtain said.
Digging it out after a near-record snowfall was interesting, he added. Some of the trails resembled long hockey rinks because they had to be shored up with boards until the snow melted.
For the first time in the Resort’s history, they were able to offer skiing in June, on the first day of the summer season.
“It was the opening of our summer, but we opened it to winter skiing,” Curtain said. Two runs were open and they had 1,000 people each day over the weekend of June 19-20. “There are not too many times we get to do that.”
The biggest event for mountain bikers this year was also the newest: the See Jane Jump Women’s Mountain Bike Festival. The Festival was the brainchild of Darcy Turenne, who grew up on the mountain biking trails at Mount Washington.
She wanted to bring the best in the sport to the Resort to teach women various skills, and she succeeded. The program sold out, and every coach had full numbers of women riders in their workshops, Curtain said.
“All the participants got to ride with the best female mountain bikers in the world.” Biking enthusiasts can expect to see this festival back next summer.
The Kali Protectives Jump Jam was popular, even though the third of three events had to be cancelled due to heavy rain in September. The jam will be back next year, Curtain assured.
The number of general sightseers visiting the Resort was down over the summer, Curtain said. The Resort also saw fewer overseas visitors coming to Vancouver Island, which affected their numbers - many of these visitors will make a day trip to the Resort and they just weren’t there this summer.
“I think that had an effect on people coming up the mountain for Mile High chairlift rides,” he said.
If you want to get married at Mount Washington, they’re booking Raven Lodge a year in advance now. “The calendar was full of weddings all summer long at Raven Lodge,” Curtain said.
“We have a stronghold on weddings; it’s definitely one of the top wedding places on Vancouver Island.”
The biggest event of the summer was the Big Day Up, put on by Cumberland Villageworks. More than 2,000 people came up to the Resort, many of them camping, most of them well behaved, to listen to The Cat’s Empire from Australia and a handful of other bands.
“There was a lot of positive feedback. The site we had for the stage was phenomenal,” he said. The stage was set up down the slope on Green Acres, with the band facing back up to the Day Lodge. The gentle hill created a natural amphitheatre for concert goers.
The Beer and Wine Festivals were sold out, as usual, and the Alpine Food Festival in September was another big hit.
The Strathcona Wilderness Institute’s Park Centre was open for a full season this year, capping a 14-year volunteer effort to have the Centre opened at the trailhead to Paradise Meadows.
The centre was open for 44 days July through September, and 4,495 visitors stopped in, according to BC Parks statistics. About 43 per cent of visitors were from the Comox Valley and North Island and 10 per cent of them were from the United Kingdom, Europe and Western Asia.
To follow the SWI year-round, and for complete statistics, go online to http://strathconapark.blogspot.com.