ONLINE FIRST World-best snowpack has Mount Washington slopes bustling
Mount Washington Alpine Resort is basking in an early-season bliss in the wake of record snowfalls.
If only it could accommodate every one of its visitors.
By Monday, the base had exceeded a depth of five metres, which is the deepest mid-mountain snowbase in the world and which already surpasses what the mountain sometimes receives in an entire season. However, not all skiers and boarders have been able to strap on the boots, simply due to a lack of parking spaces.
"I've never seen that (reach capacity) in resort history, now we just did it two days in a row," resort spokesperson Brent Curtain said Tuesday. "Everybody wants to see the record snowfall. The conditions are the best they've ever been at this time of year."
While Mount Washington's chairlifts are designed for a capacity of 12,200 skiers and boarders per hour, the parking lots were full by 11 a.m. Monday. On Tuesday, it only took until 9 a.m.
"We've never hit capacity on our lifts, thankfully," Curtain said, noting a busy day is 7,000 skiers. Nearly 6,000 skiers hit the slopes Monday.
While parts of the mountain were closed on the weekend, crews worked overtime to dig out the lifts and the ski lodge.
Curtain expected the entire mountain, including the Outback and Boomerang runs, to be "100 per cent operational" by Tuesday afternoon.
"We've never seen it like this," he said. "Hopefully, the spillover business is bringing some great economic boost to the Comox Valley. I imagine the ski shops and the hotels are seeing phenomenal numbers right now."
"It's been great," said Cam McDonald, a part-owner at Ski Tak Hut in Courtenay. "I would say right since the start of the mountain opening, with all the snowfall, has generated a lot of interest. Everybody's excited."
McDonald said rentals and sales have both been strong. Fat skis, which provide exceptional flotation in powdery conditions, have been especially popular.
"One thing about getting snow this time of year, it guarantees a good season right until the end," McDonald said. "Of course, January and February we're always good for some more snowfalls. Lots of powder to come."
The road leading to Mount Washington is clear but drivers are advised to equip vehicles with winter tires or chains before heading up the hill.