Dec 1, 2011 | Marmot, Winter 2011

Summer in Review

Summer was all about the snow at Mount Washington Alpine Resort this year. No, that’s not a typo: there was enough snow left over from a record-setting year that for the first time ever, the Resort was open for summer skiing in July.

“We had two weekends of skiing when we were supposed to have summer operations,” Director of Public Relations Brent Curtain said. “On Canada Day we had skiers on the mountain.”

The Resort opened for two days of skiing on June 18-19 and again July 1-3. Skiing in July was a first for Resort President Peter Gibson. “It was a combination of the amount of snow and a cold, late spring,” he said.

While the late snow was great for skiers, it was a step back for Bike Park Operators, who had to delay opening. The first day of summer operations was supposed to be July 1, but opening was delayed by a number of weeks as staffers waited for the first signs of dirt to appear.

“We knew we had a deep snow pack and that we would be looking at delaying opening,” Curtain said. “Once the snow melted we had to rebuild a lot of features in the Bike Park that were crushed by snow.”

The Bike Park never was fully operational, running solely off the Hawk Chairlift instead of both the Hawk and the Eagle Express. As a result, ticket prices were discounted.

However, once the snow finally did melt the Park enjoyed strong visits in August and September, Curtain added.

The snow played havoc with a jam-packed mountain biking schedule, but there were a couple of gems buried in the snow and dirt.

The much-touted Green Line Trail was to open from top to bottom for the first time, but it was muddier than normal. “Once it did dry out it was amazing to see the transformation for people learning to mountain bike,” Curtain said.

The BC Cup Downhill couldn’t run its usual course from the top of the Monster Mile, so it was rerouted from the Hawk Chairlift. Racers loved the new course, so the Resort will re-evaluate next year’s route.

“Potentially, it’s an option for us if we were to mix it up,” Curtain said. “It’s too early to tell if it’s going to be a permanent move.”

Mountain biking is a big focus for the Resort, and this year was no different.

The Bearclaw Invitational was the biggest event of the season, drawing close to 3,000 people to watch the action. Organizer Darren Berrecloth built a permanent course for the slope style event that was in the trees to the right of the old Green Zone.

Although Berrecloth took a three-year break between Bearclaw events at Mount Washington, he has committed to putting on a race in 2012, Curtain said.

The See Jane Jump women’s mountain bike festival was another sold out hit. Darcy Turenne, who grew up in the Comox Valley, brought in some of the world’s best female mountain bike riders to put on clinics.

Overall, summer was a positive season for the Resort, Curtain said. Visitation was strong in August and September, when the weather warmed up.

The Food and Wine Festival and the new Suds and Scotch Fest were both well attended and will return next year.

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