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Mt. Washington, Vancouver Island

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hi all! We are planning to combine a few days at Mt. Washington with a longer stay in Whistler starting Jan.1/04. Is Mt. Washington, assuming good snow and weather, worth 2-3 days? Is Victoria a "must" see, even in very early January? We enjoy Groomed Blues and Blacks, and our 4 yr. old is a solid Green skier. Thank You.

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post #2 of 25
Thread Starter 
Oh come on friends, somebody please answer.....!!!!!
post #3 of 25
Hi GPaul; never been to Mt. Washington, but have always wanted to. It is THE place to ski on Vancouver Island, and I would think most visitors are islanders, because of the cost and hassle of the ferries from the mainland. The snow is heavier on coastal ranges than you would find further inland, which is different, but no less enjoyable than the poofy interior fluff.

Victoria is a unique, funky city, though it's definately in it's floral glory late spring to early fall. Don't miss the Royal BC Museum.

Have fun!
post #4 of 25
I spent 4 days there last season and it's a lot of fun. It's a small mountain (smaller than, say, Alpine Meadows or A-basin) but has lots of varied terrain. There's probably enough there to keep you happy for 3 days if the snow is good.

I hooked up with some locals who knew the mountain really well and skied a lot of spots I wouldn't have found alone.

If you do get bored, I think there's easy access over to Whistler that can be done in a day. I'm not sure if a ferry leaves from Comax or Nanaimo (sp?) but I know some skiers do Whistler as a day trip from Mt. Washington.

The week I was there gave us 2+ feet of snow (in March, no less) which is apparently pretty rare for the area. I heard they get a lot of rain in March.

The Mt. Washington staff is superb, especially their children's ski school.

[ March 26, 2003, 04:50 PM: Message edited by: KevinH ]
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hola KevinH and many thanks for reply. We skied Lake Tahoe (your enviable mountains) a few years back, and loved Squaw and Heavenly, Alpine Meadows was nice, but did not particularly like Kirkwood (poor grooming and inefficient lifts).

Seems like you did enjoy Mt. Washington, albeit its small size. Then again, we went back to Stowe after 15 yrs. and really enjoyed their 47 trails on 450 +/- acres. So, Mt. Wash. at 50 trails on 1000+ acres should feel much bigger. The numbers implicate Wide and Long runs, what do you think?

We will move on to Whistler for 10 days, mainly because it is only 2 hours from Vancouver. We enjoyed Sun Peaks, but a 5 hr. trip is geting on my nerves the older I get.

Again, Tks for reply, it confirms my deires to explore this place.
post #6 of 25
Yes, there are some nice wide runs. I wouldn't say they're long, as the 1000' vertical would indicate but I've never been one to judge an area by the length of their runs. Even when I'm on a really tall mountain, I rarely make top-to-bottom runs so 5000 vertical feet, for me, skis like 5 different 1000' mountains.

The thing I liked most about Mt. Washington was its variety. For a smallish mountain, it's got some good steeps on the far skier's right, some nice groomers all over, a good terrain park for the kids (my son was 7 when we skied there so it's probably not a GREAT park for older kids), and a few runs which are groomed on one side and bumpy on the other.

It reminds me a lot of one of my favorite small Tahoe areas: Sugar Bowl. Like most western mountains, I thought it skied bigger than its stats indicated.

Anyway, have fun and hope you get a place near the lifts, as it's a tough skate home if you don't! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
Sr. KevinH, wholly concur with your length/value thoughts.

I knew I should have skied Sugar Bowl; next time out to Tahoe will probably land in Frisco, and start and end with Sugar Bowl, especially if they keep adding fast lifts.

Any advice on Lodgings at Mt. Washington, 2 adults and our 5 yr. old? Ski in/out or walk (max 10 minutes...). Or whatever, maybe even down in Comox?

Tks again.
post #8 of 25
No problem. Can't ski for another 2 weeks so I may as well chat about it [img]smile.gif[/img]

I stayed in the village right at the base of the mountain. While that may sound like a great thing, it completely depends on WHERE in the village you are.

Since the village doesn't allow cars on the small roads that wind in and out of the condos, and there isn't a shuttle (I never saw one) you have to walk from your condo to the lifts. Additionally, when I was there, the roads were fully packed with snow. I didn't see a single bit of dirt or pavement the whole time we were there so I'm not sure if the snow on the roads was 6" deep or 6' deep. Most of the time, we "skied" to and from the lifts but the village is placed on small rolling hills so there's no easy ski to or from the lifts; each way requires a good bit of poling or skating. Since I was there with my son who was 8 at the time, and he's not the strongest skater, our trips to the lifts and back were a bit of a hassle.

However, we did discover a back trail that would take us down to a surface lift designed solely to transport people from the lowest chair back up to the main lodge. That made our trips TO the mountain a lot easier. Our return trips were still tough, though.

So my suggestion would be that if you can guarantee a condo within a quick walk to the lifts, take it. If not, Comox would be a more comvenient location.

EDITED: Don't miss a visit to Duncan! It's a few minutes north of Victoria and is the Totem capital of the world in addition to having the world's largest hockey stick on display. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

[ April 01, 2003, 02:23 PM: Message edited by: KevinH ]
post #9 of 25
I can't comment on the resort it self but can give you some tips on Courtnay/Comox itself. There are many options ranging from full service hotels to hostels. My pick when I was there was the River Side Hostel. Very clean (Babe is a clean freak), and homey. The rates were excellent for the services that were provided. They have dorm, semi and private rooms. This is one funky little town were people stop to let you cross the road, and only honk to get your attention to wave. From "hotel" row it is just down the road, over the bridge and on your way to the mountian. Sweet town......will return. Plus the view of the glacier is stunning. You can either catch the ferry in Van to Nanimo, or Powel River to Comox. Cheapy travel tip: The ferry ride is free if you are on a Greyhound bus.
post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Artimus, muchas gracias!

I don't know if you've done the Powell-Comox ferry; it seems like a lot of traversing from Vancouver-Powell (which in fact may be a nice change of pace)? Of course, the Vancouver-Nanaimo route seems pretty straightforward, but how long a drive from Nanaimo-Comox?

Tks for Hostel tip, will look into this.

Best regards.
post #11 of 25
Hello again Gpaul; I can comment on the ferry routes. The circle trip from Vancouver/Nanaimo, then Comox/Powell River/Sechelt/Vancouver is a great trip, and will take you through delightful part of our province. I highly recommend it, but you need to take your time... laid-back is the whole idea behind the East Island and Sunshine Coast. If your goal for this trip is mainly skiing, it may not fit in with your plans. To get from Comox to Vancouver via water, you need to take three ferries and drive about 100km (total) between them. Definately the scenic route. Perhaps save it for a summer holiday. Great skiing is but one attribute to our fair province. Check http://www.bcferries.bc.ca . Also http://www.bigpacific.com . Enjoy!
post #12 of 25
I would say that the drive along the shore is in the 2 hr range and the inland highway about 1.5. I will definitely will agree to the layed back way of the island. It will take a coupla days to kick back a few gears, but then it will all be good.........
post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
JR, artimus, Hola!
Tks for tips. We may in fact go to Victoria as starting or ending point of visit to Mt. Washington, and will certainly go to Duncan. I've been toying with the possibility of moving to and actually LIVING on Vancouver Island, as close to Mt. Washington as possible. It's all about our love of skiing (passion really), and the wonderful things I hear/read about life in BC. My sister has lived in Edmonton for 25+ years, and loves it. Who knows....
post #14 of 25
Edmonton is a LONG way from island life. I totally agree that the island would be a great place to move to, but work is hard to find. For the most part, things were for the most part not that expensive, excluding property in and around C/C. You can blame that on all the air force types that retired there.
post #15 of 25
I take it you mean that your sister, who lives in Edmonton, enjoys VISITING the island. Edmonton is more than 1000km away, flat as a pancake, and 5 1/2 hrs to decent skiing in Jasper (Marmot). I once quit a very promising career to avoid being transfered out of BC to Edmonton!

I don't know what kind of life you're used to. Many city dwellers have tried island life and left. Comox and the central island are pretty, but a long way from urban life. Victoria (largest city on the island) is nice, but it's mainly a tourist and government town, and about 3hrs from Comox. The business centre is Vancouver, and at about $100 ferry round trip and 5 or 6 hours each way (8 in summer) you don't want to make that trip too often. Mt. Washington is but one ski hill. If you are planning on re-locating to skiing specifically, there are better places in BC with access to several ski hills in an easy morning's drive. If you are an American, you will find taxes in Canada much higher than you're used to, for everything. It's true that the island economy, forest industry driven, is somewhat depressed. However it is a beautiful place. Check it out... it may be for you!

At any rate, have a great ski trip.
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
Jr, artimus, thanks again for replies. I received a relocation packet for Nanaimo, and although it seems nice, it may be too big for my taste.

In the Comox valley, is the opening of a new, unique ethnic restaurant needed as much as a hole in the head? We are restaurant operators, thus the business intention.

Assuming this restaurant is successful, can a yearly net of US$75,000 after taxes be a reasonable goal?

Any other Bears want to comment?

post #17 of 25

I know nothing of the the viability of a restaurant on Vancouver Island, but I would like to make a comment about what I think is one of the better emerging business environments in the country. Golden, British Columbia is positioned to move into a booming situation in the near future. It is a sleepy little town with businesses that are well run for a small town, but not really focused on an upscale tourist trade. They get all the business they can handle from the summer tourists, and the winter ski crowd at Kicking Horse is yet to have too large an impact in the local economy. ..A well thought out restaurant/club just might garner considerable activity if strategically planned to fit with the summer/winter demands of the tourist trade in that area.

post #18 of 25
Gpaul; I don't know enough the year-round folk living there to comment, which would make or break you. I figure there are 3 types of customers you would get for such a place, outside the urban community and tourist traps. Tourists, which are confined to summer months, and mostly concentrate on the south Island and Tofino area. Hippies, who are local and appreciate good food, but can be fickle; frankly, if you are American you have a strike against you, due to the Iraq thing. Finally, most locals outside the city are meat & potatoes types; loggers, farmers, fishermen, mill workers. How much you could make I don't know, but I don't know of any restaurant owners in smaller towns that can afford to travel much. FYI, Canadians find the price of restaurant food VERY expensive in the US, almost double what we pay here. Also interesting, is that Canadians will go to a theme-type restaurant once, but only return if the food is good, and of good value. Some large US outfits like the Rainforest Cafe and the Hard Rock Cafe have found this out the hard way. That's bitter reality.
post #19 of 25
Mt.Washington is a great hill! I plan to go during a visit to Mum and Dad (who live in Victoria)...but if you open a cafe...better learn to make Nanaimo Bars!!
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
Tks Feal. Golden... does the word really describe the City? Before I seriously look into the area, how cold does it really get during winter? Sun only 8-4, when sunny?

Kicking Horse is one of the mountains on our early April 2004 ski trip, along with LL, Sunshine, Panorama and Fernie (15 days).

Gracias and keep the info. coming!
post #21 of 25
Thread Starter 
JR, hola again! No we're not gringos, and would not open an american-themed restaurant.

Have you any knowledge of Nanaimo? Would it be an easier "start-up" than Comox Valley? Of course, there is always Victoria, but it seems too big for my taste (we now live in a 1 million+ city); small towns living off big cities is what I'm after.

Best regards.
post #22 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hola Robin! What are Nanaimo Bars?

In your opinion, and compared to other mountains you may deem appropiate, is 4 days enough to fully ski and re-ski Mt. Washington?

post #23 of 25

Golden certainly does not describe the town itself, but does do a good job of describing the setting. The town itself has survived as a railroad and logging center. As you might imagine, everything in town is not exactly 'spit and polished', but it does have a nice 'quaint' feel to it.

The main point here is LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!!!

The town sits on the Columbia river, well below the beautiful ranges that sprawl to the east and west. This sheltered position for it translates to a moderated climate during the winter. Deep winter conditions can be found on the nearby mountains for about 8 months of the year, while Golden sits down at riverside with an accepatble environment. It may not lot like that great hidden paradise of the far north to everyone, but it sure does to me!! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #24 of 25
Hi Gpaul; last time I was in Nanaimo, the economy was quite depressed, as it is many places throughout the island, due to logging slow-down. I was there in the off season however, but it did appear that there was an awful lot of business space permanently for rent. I wouldn't call it a small town (which is relative, I guess), but it has all the services one generally needs. As with all the SE portion of the island, weather is wonderful.

Victoria is certainly not in the million-plus class. I would guess the area has a population of about 400,000 but that could be off a little. The industries are not resource-based, so the economy is more stable and the atmosphere more cosmopolitan. Government (capital of BC), military, tourism, retirement services and the university come to mind as major employers. I am thinking it may what you are looking for, though a long drive from skiing.

I was in Whistler last week. We didn't bring our skis this time, but lots of people did, and still plenty of snow. Most gondola riders were mountain bikers! The Whistler gondola from mid-station down are down-hill bike trails, while skiers go to the top and ski the peak, red and emerald chairs. We mostly relaxed, shopped and rode bikes on the valley trails. Weird to see skiers and boarders while the tulips are blooming! I haven't tried the down-hill biking, but it looks like a blast! Its a must to rent specialty bikes with disc brakes and good suspension.

Have a great summer, my friend!
post #25 of 25
Gpaul, I would ski Mt. Washington for 4 days...but it would be 4 repeats. Nanaimo bars are a local chocolaty confection...yummy and rich.
JR's econo analysis of Victoria is about dead on.
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