Jul 1, 2002 | Marmot, Summer 2002

Winter 2001/20002 Best Season Ever at Mount Washington

The 2001-02 winter season was the most successful that Mount Washington Alpine Resort has experienced in its 23 year existence.

The Resort finished the season with 420,000 visitors – a record. “We’re now on our way to being a half-million-a-season resort,” said Dave Hampshire, the Resort’s Director of Public Relations. And some people are likening Mount Washington to where Whistler was before its development boom. Adding to the Resort’s success was the opening of Raven Lodge, the mountain’s premiere nordic ski lodge that sits at the edge of Strathcona Park – and the new terrain Mount Washington has added to the west. Hampshire said media interest this year has been great, and has contributed to people finding out about Mount Washington. Comments they’ve been receiving from out of town visitors are “Wow, you guys are right on the edge of something great,” he said. “Especially people who saw Whistler in their early days, they’re saying we’re the Whistler of old – right before their boom.

“We’ve come a long way from the $12.00 lift ticket in 1979. But we have a lot more services and terrain, too.”

At less than $50.00, Mount Washington’s lift tickets are still a great deal compared to Whistler ($70.00), he said.

A number of factors contributed to Mount Washington’s successful year. “The snow was so accommodating,” said Hampshire who, during the winter season, is known as the “Mount Washington Snow Boy.” “We received a lot of that very fine powder versus the heavy stuff, as usual.”

That fine powder actually delayed the season opener by a week because the snow that was falling in November was drifting in the wind. “We had these 300 centimetre deep drifts,” Hampshire said. It took awhile for the snow to fall in sufficient quantity for opening day.

Hampshire credited part of last season’s success on the new Inland Island Highway, which is now open from Victoria straight to Campbell River. The highway has made the drive so much easier for visitors coming from Victoria, that even though it’s only cut off 20-30 minutes, they arrive much more rested. And the turn-off to Mount Washington is just 18 minutes from the Jubilee Parkway in Campbell River.

WestJet’s new air service between Comox and Calgary has also had a profound effect on the Resort. The mountain saw a lot of skiers and snowboarders come in from Calgary, and teaming up with Crown Isle for a golf/ ski package was also a gem. The Resort sent people to a trade show in Calgary arranged by the Comox Valley Economic Development Society, and has been promoted in ads assembled by Comox Valley Tourism. “All those things came into play,” Hampshire said.

While the mountain is barely a month into its summer season, many resort employees are already setting their sights on next winter – and how far they can take it.

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