Jul 1, 2009 | Marmot, Summer 2009

Winter 2009 In Review

Winter at Mount Washington Resort got off to a slow start last December, but picked up speed through to the spring actually extending the operating season.

“We had a lot of icing, and no cake,” said Don Sharpe, Resort Director of Business Operations.

Any early snow blew away, or blew to where it wasn’t appreciated. When the freezing temperatures arrived, the snow pack wasn’t solid enough.

“Then the inversion hit,” Sharpe said. “It was 19 degrees (Celsius) at Raven Lodge one day in January…and minus two in the Comox Valley.”

The snow that Mount Washington is famous for finally arrived in February and March, and by mid-March the Outback terrain opened and the Boomerang Chair was operational. “The people who did come up to use the terrain enjoyed the terrain,” he added.

The Resort extended its operating hours for two extra weekends in April, which was part of the management team’s strategy to allow people to get as much snow experiences as possible this season.

Perhaps the busiest people on the mountain this winter were the groomers: moving snow from places where it accumulated to places where it was needed.

“They finally got the credit they deserve,” said Erik Meertens, Operations Manager for Mount Washington Resort. “They work as hard with a metre of snow as they do with 10.”

This year the groomers went to even greater lengths to make sure skiers and snowboarders had a good variety of runs to choose from. And at times it wasn’t easy, Meertens said.

“We literally went and got (snow) with man and machine and stitched it together…There were certain times we could have easily thrown in the towel.” The groomers received a lot of compliments from the skiing public, Meertens said.

Meertens and his groomers will spend time this summer installing snow fences, which will help collect blowing snow that can more easily be moved onto certain spots that need it – especially early in the season

There were many positives among the challenges of the season, Sharpe said, chiefly the 2009 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup event in March. The event drew 150 people from 20 nations to the Resort for a week. “We had perfect weather for it,” he said. “It was sunny, crystal clear every day.”

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