West-coasters have had a pretty easy winter in the lowlands — but can you imagine if we’d had the same conditions during the 2010 Winter Olympics? Whistler is doing fine for snowpack but in Vancouver, the North Shore’s Seymour and Cypress mountains have long since closed their operations, due to a lack of snow… and Grouse is barely scraping by, with just one of 26 runs operational — on a very thin base of 15 to 60cm. To the south, Mount Baker has suspended operations while waiting for more snow.
Even in 2010, Cypress was getting hit by rain and warm temperatures and they needed to truck in snow from the closest source, which happened to be Manning Park. Once again, Manning Resort has been on the white side of winter for much of the ski season and are hopeful to stay opened through spring break for all snow-related activities.
Manning Resort’s mountain coordinator, Robyn Barker said on Sunday, “We’ve been hanging in there remarkably well, despite lower than usual snow levels all over British Columbia. We are positioned in a great place, close to Hope and the Lower Mainland, but just a bit more inland than the coastal mountains, so we get drier snow.
“We’ve had ski-worthy snow all season long. After our 35cm of powder last Monday, we’ve had a few flurries of snow, making our base an 111cm average of our top base and bottom base as of today.
“We are hoping to run the orange and blue chair this week — conditions and skier numbers permitting,” said Barker. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed to carry on as long as we can but even if the alpine area is experiencing lower than usual snow levels, the Nordic and snowshoeing is still excellent.”
The resort held its annual Spring Fest on Saturday and Sunday, with the Streak-the-Streak downhill race on Saturday and the Slush Cup and Dummy Downhill on Sunday.
Chilliwack resident Kara Serruys was the fastest female, with a time of 53.09 seconds. In the men’s race, ski-patrol volunteers Edward Nelles and Brett Baron were tied for first, at 50.18 seconds.
For the Slush Cup, water and orange marking paint were added to a hollow spot that skiers tried to ski through… or wipe-out in. Points were awarded for “Style, Smile, Splash and Costume,” said Barker, who has worked at the resort for the past four years.
Ed Nelles won first-place, followed by fellow ski-patroller Freya Wasteneys and Chilliwack’s Adam Laurie. Jerocko Harder was the best of the staff entries.
For the Dummy Downhill, contestants built dummies that had to ski or snowboard down the hill on their own.
“(Crowd favourite) UniKitty was made by Eric, Hannah and John Kinnie from Burnaby,” said Barker. “It was mostly styrofoam, but it had some blocks of ice for weight in its legs — and it actually slid the best of the bunch.
“Our rental shop staff made one in homage to our boss and general manager, Mike Barker, which was pretty amazing, too. It won for most original.”
The real-life Mike has an abundant white moustache and the rental staff added a “few” inches to the dummy’s moustache, so it would blow freely in the wind.
“The Best Crash was won by our day lodge staff,” added Robyn. “It blew apart and French fries went everywhere!”
Down at the Nordic centre, coordinator Jo Hughes was upbeat about conditions there. “Once established, it doesn’t take much snow to keep the Nordic trails going and we have had some great cross country skiing this winter.
“We have one more race for the season — a dual start time trial from Strawberry Flats back to the lodge — named the ‘Top to Bottom Fest’ as it is mainly losing elevation. It’s a fun freestyle competition complete with prizes.”
That event runs this Saturday, March 28, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“Snowshoeing is another enjoyable winter adventure that is easily accessible to everyone – even if they don’t ski,” added Hughes. “With snowshoeing you can choose a path to take advantage of the snow and really customize your outing.”
For rentals and info, see the staff at the Nordic lodge. For current conditions, check winter.manningpark.com/conditions and www.theweathernetwork.com/forecasts/ski-and-snow/canada/british-columbia/manning-park-resort , or call toll free 1-800-330-3321.