O Canada! Mt. Washington's July 1 opening caps off an unbelievable season

O Canada! Mt. Washington's July 1 opening caps off an unbelievable season

A season of firsts saves it's best for last

STERLING TODD KEYS

Mount Washington Canada Day 2011
The patriots were out in full force for Mt. Washington's Canada Day weekend. Skiing in July? O Canada is right.
STERLING TODD KEYS/SnowSeekers

MT. WASHINGTON, BC — If you would have asked me any other year, mid-May would have marked the absolute end of the ski season and I would have already had my skis and boots prepped and ready for off-season storage. The days would be spent torturing myself by watching ski videos and keeping tabs on the start of the ski season in the southern hemisphere.  

2011 hasn’t been an ordinary year for anyone lucky enough to be on Vancouver Island, though. On a personal front, I’ve had many firsts this season: skiing over 50 times in a season, having to dig my car out of the parking lot, experiencing day after day of 50 centimeters of fresh snow. By ridiculous chance, the season I chose to become a ski bum was also the season that record snowfalls hit the Island mountains. 

These record snowfalls (coupled with a mild spring) helped Mount Washington fire its lifts back up on Father’s Day for “Snowmer,” an event that I chronicled in an earlier article. At that time I thought I ended my series of firsts for the season and counted myself among the luckier skiers in Canada. Finally, after experiencing one of the best snow seasons of my life, I was preparing my skis for the end of the season a month after I normally would. 

Hiking boots ... or ski boots?

Mount Washington Canada Day 2011
Pretty surreal stuff.
STERLING TODD KEYS/SnowSeekers

As if taunting me, the day after I finished this post-season ritual, Mount Washington announced their plans to open for the Canada Day weekend. 

And so, this past weekend I made the same familiar trek up the mountain, skis in tow on the roof of my car. The green scenery all around once again suggested that I should be busting out the hiking boots rather than the ski boots, but as per usual, we were greeted by a base of white gold the moment we pulled into the Mount Washington resort parking lot.  

The scene was almost a replica from Snowmer two weekends ago. The amount of snow had remained the same and the atmosphere of skiers and boarders was as ecstatic as ever. In fact, one of the largest changes had nothing to do with the landscape and more to do with what people were wearing. Gone were the Hawaiian skirts and shirts, now replaced with Canadian flag capes and Team Canada jerseys. Random bouts of “O Canada” could be heard from skiers as you rode the chairs up the mountain. The few sights that betrayed the fact that it was indeed summer were far and few in between: patches around cliff faces, the occasional dry area in the middle of a closed run, and hordes of people running in to get that extra wax job on their skis and boards to avoid being stopped in their tracks upon hitting some “quicksand” snow.

A unforgettable season

Having expanded their hours until 7 PM for the entire long weekend, the only thing on my mind was getting in as many runs as possible before the time limit expired. Whereas during the season, fresh tracks were the main cause of this type of excitement, this late in the season the experience was all about getting fast groomer runs in. Finally, after riding the chair lift over and over again and engaging in many five second conversation with the lifties, my legs and thighs called it quits after their 36th loop. Retiring to the outdoor patio at the base lodge and remembering how a few months ago the entire area I was now sitting in was completely covered in snow, it finally hit that, at long last, my season was finally finished. 

In July. 

And so, for the second time this season, I am going to prepare my skis to be put into storage for a few months.  We shall see how long they stay there before I need to break them out again…

Until next season fellow snow seekers. It’s been an absolute blast. 

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