Hills are alive with happy skiers after record snow dump

Mount Washington Alpine Resort is basking in an early-season bliss in the wake of record snowfalls.

Strathcona Parkway

is clear and there’s even more parking available at resort

Mount Washington Alpine Resort is basking in an early-season bliss in the wake of record snowfalls.

Over the past two weeks, the mountain received close to four metres of new snow, an unprecedented amount in such a short period of time. At its peak, the snow fell at a rate of 1.5 metres in 12 hours, literally burying the village and resort.

The snowfall has drawn an unprecedented amount of coast-to-coast media attention.

“The conditions are the best they’ve ever been at this time of year,” said resort spokesperson Brent Curtain, noting the clear and cold weather has been ideal for skiers and boarders.

While parts of the mountain were closed on the weekend, crews worked overtime to dig out the lifts and the ski lodge. By Monday, the base had exceeded five metres, which is the deepest mid-mountain snowbase in the world and which surpasses what the mountain sometimes receives in an entire season.

As of Wednesday, Curtain said the mountain has been “100 per cent operational.”

Early in the week, not all skiers and boarders were able to strap on the boots due to a lack of parking spaces.

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.

“We’ve never seen it like this,” he added. “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.”

By Wednesday, the parking issue at Mount Washington had been resolved. In fact, workers created nearly 200 extra spots by pushing snow over ditches and trucking some of it away.

The Strathcona Parkway from the Inland Island Highway to the top of the mountain is clear; however, snow tires are recommended and chains should be carried as a backup.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com