Mount Washington icon to retire after 41 years

Peter Gibson, general manager at Mount Washington Alpine Resort, will retire next spring after 41 years as a fixture of the ski area.

“I’ve had one of the greatest runs in the ski industry,” Gibson said in a news release. “To be able to be at one area for four decades, and to help it develop from scratch into one of the top resorts in Canada has been a privilege and a lot of fun.

“To have a job in your hometown and to be able to do something that has been a passion all my life is a dream come true.”

Gibson started at Mt. Washington in May of 1977, two years before the resort opened in 1979. His primary duty those first two summers was operating a chainsaw and running the trail crew as they created the ski runs for the mountain.

“I was helping the founders figure out how to build the trails and infrastructure for ski hill, but there was lots more that needed to be done, so while we cut trees we also planned the overall resort and figured out how ski school, rentals and resort operations were going to work once the place opened.”

The brainstorming and planning paid off when Gibson learned he would be the director of skiing when the resort opened. Over time he assumed greater responsibilities including guest services manager and director of marketing. In 1999, he was appointed general manager, and in 2001 he became president of Mount Washington Ski Resort, Ltd.

Gibson started skiing at Comox Valley’s Forbidden Plateau when he was 10, and he fell in love with the sport. By the time he was 16, he had become a ski instructor. After graduating from Courtenay High School in 1967, he completed a bachelor of arts and professional teaching degree at UBC that he put to good use doing what came naturally – teaching skiing. In addition to teaching at Mt. Washington, he also taught at Grouse Mountain and Whistler. In search of an endless winter, while still working for Mount Washington, Gibson was able to take an extended holiday and teach skiing at Ben Lomond, a ski area in Tasmania, Australia, during the Canadian summers from 1989 to 1992.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with three very committed ownership groups at Mount Washington over the last 40 years,” = Gibson said. “When we started, one of our big features was flush toilets, which was quite innovative for a mountain resort at that time. Lots of hard work and millions of dollars later, we have a top Alpine and Nordic ski area with over 700 units of housing at the resort. Now we are focused on adding snowmaking, summer activities, new restaurants, and further development to make Mount Washington a great year round destination. I’m quite proud of the team here and what we have accomplished, and I’m very pleased to pass along a solid foundation for the next generation to build upon.”

Vern Greco, CEO of Pacific Group Resorts, Inc. reflected on Gibson’s role during the transition to the current ownership two years ago.

“Mt. Washington had been for sale for a couple years before our acquisition, which always produces some uneasiness as people wonder what will happen,” Greco said. “It can be a hard experience for a staff accustomed to one ownership group for 25 years, and the team could have been discouraged. Instead, Peter kept everyone focused and positive during the sale process in what was naturally an uncertain and trying time. He led the team through the transition with aplomb. His steady hand was extremely important, and we are grateful he was in that role.”

“I’ve been here for 37 years, so not quite as long as long as Peter, but long enough to know him very well,” said George Trousdell, director of mountain operations at Mt. Washington. “His exit strategy is vintage Peter. He’s leaving in good health, he’s in a good place, and he has given us enough time to allow for careful selection of a new general manager, and the time for a thorough knowledge transfer between Peter and the new GM. Everything he does, he does thoughtfully and with an appreciation for those around him. I hope he enjoys his retirement because we’re going to miss him.”