Monday, February 23, 2009

Skiing and Victoria

This last weekend I was up at Mount Washington with the Scouts. It reminded me how much I love to ski and how far Victoria is from a ski hill.

In my teens I earned money so that I could go skiing. I would ski about twice a week from late November through to early May, about 50 times in a season. All of this came to an abrupt end when I went to UVic for university. The end happened in part because I could no longer afford it, but more because Victoria is so far from any skiing and lacks much of a skiing culture.

Living in Tsawwassen, I had seven ski hills within a two hour drive. From Victoria there was only Mount Arrowsmith and I could not find anyone in the 1980s willing to make the trek up the road there.

Vancouver Island has a population of 730 000 people. We have two ski hills, Mount Washington and Mount Cain near Woss. Mount Cain is four and half hours from Victoria.

The Okanagan/Thompson region has about 400 000 total population and has nine ski hills! More if you look to the Kootenaies or Manning Park.

We have some suitable mountains on the south end of Vancouver Island for a ski hill. Realistically a ski hill would have to have a base elevation of over 1100 meters, ideally 1250 on the south end of the island. I good hill needs a minimum of 300 to 400 meters of vertical. Using these numbers, here are some locations I think would work:

First off there is Mount Arrowsmith, a former ski area. It has a higher elevation than Mount Washington and looks to have enough vertical.

Secondly, Mount Whymper on the Chemainus river has an elevation of 1541 meters. Mount Landale on the south side of the river is slightly lower, but looks like it has the location for a ski hill.

Third there is Marion Creek off of Hwy 19 just past Sutton Pass on the way to the Ucluelet and Tofino. The valley has enough elevation on the peaks.

Fourth would be Mount Klitsa which is just south of the western end of Sproat Lake. Both these last two locations suffer from not being close to at least 100 000 people.

On the north eastern edge of the Alberni Valley there is Mount Apps which is used for cross country. Slightly to the south is Mount Joan peaking at just over 1600 meters, though the I am not sure terrain works. It might better terrain coming from the east side via Roaring Creek.

There are some interesting areas near Tahsis and Gold River, but both are rather remote for the vast majority of people to get to. The upper end of the Conuma River looks very promising, but this is not close to anyone.

Between Mount Washington and Strathcona park there is Alexandra Peak and Mount Adrian. The southwest slope of Alexandra Peak looks like very good terrain. Access would be from the Cranberry junction on the Island highway. Proximity to Mount Washington would be a problem.

Forbidden Plateau is in this area and was a ski hill. The hill closed and the buildings burned. Could someone make a go of it now?

Mount Cain sits at the edge of Schoen Lake park and in the heart of some decent hieght mountains in the centre of the island. The area has a huge potential for a skiing area much bigger than it is, the problem is that we are getting to far from the skiing public.

In the end, I would love to see at least one ski hill developed close to Port Alberni and one near Mount Landale on the Chemainus. There is the interest on the island to sustain them as ski hills.
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