Dec 1, 2011 | Marmot, Winter 2011


The mountain life suits Lana and Mark Blair, fulltime residents at Mount Washington Alpine Resort. The couple owns Grizzly Alpine Services, which has the transportation contract in the Alpine Village, and Lana is also the representative for Strata 799.

The Blairs were living and working in Powell River when they bought their condo in the Alpine Village in 1989. “We were weekend warriors then,” Lana said.

Their two children grew up skiing at the Resort. “It was just such an adventure,” she said. “The kids loved it.”

Lana grew up in a skiing family in Vernon. She was working with Safeway when she was asked if she would transfer, and she said she would go anywhere as long as there was a ski hill nearby.

When a position was offered to her in Powell River, she looked at a map of the area and saw a symbol for “ski hill.” It wasn’t until she had already relocated that she realized the ski hill was actually on Vancouver Island, a 90-minute ferry ride and one-hour drive away.

The Blairs moved permanently to Mount Washington four years ago, and are entering their fifth winter at the Resort. They both ski – “Not as much as we’d like to anymore,” says Mark – and Lana also enjoys snowboarding. She has also coached with Vancouver Island Adaptive Snowsports at the Resort.

The couple decided to move for the lifestyle, but a paid position came up with the strata and Lana applied and received the job.

She looks after the strata’s common property in the village: parking lots, lighting, roads, gardens. She hires parking lot attendants in the winter and deals with maintenance issues as well.

They both operate Grizzly Alpine Services, and are entering their fourth year with that endeavour. They have the transportation contract for the village; they own two quads, freight toboggans on tracks and a six-seater Polaris Ranger for passengers.

(A different company has the snow-clearing contract at the Alpine Village.)

Grizzly Alpine Services provides year-round residential care for absentee owners as well as private garbage pickup.

With both jobs, Lana loves the people she deals with. “You’ve got to have good people skills for both jobs, for sure,” she said.

The Blairs’ refuge after hours is their condo. Located on the top floor of a building in the heart of the village, it was part of the initial development at the Resort. As a result, the Blairs don’t have vehicle access to their building after Nov. 15 until the snow clears.

“That’s part of the attraction of living in the village,” says Lana. “It’s not for everyone.”

The corner windows in their living room overlook a sea of green trees – and in the middle of winter, of white snowy beauty.

While their children live elsewhere and aren’t able to come and visit often, the Blairs keep company with Riley, their Labrador-Standard poodle cross dog. The colour of fresh powder and just as soft, Riley is laid back while a guest visits, but jumps at the chance to take a brief ride in the family 4×4.

Lana is a self-confessed snow person, but Mark admits he loves it up there too.

“When we moved up here we thought, ‘what are we going to do in the rainy season’,” he said. “But it doesn’t really rain up here. And there’s always lots to do.”

More from this Issue