An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: So, when they say it’s going to snow...

They weren’t kidding were they?! Boy, when it snows around here, it certainly doesn’t jut pay lip service to the notion. It’s all or nothing, which is pretty much the Whistler way I guess.

There’s no records being thrown around just yet, but let me tell you that this month of March has already seen HUGE, bountiful amounts of the fluffy (and not so fluffy) white stuff dumped all over our local mountain ranges.

This past week or so has already received over 1.5 meters and we now have a snow base of around 3.5 meters. It should come as no real surprise really as March has historically seen heavy snowfall and I guess it is still only mid-winter in this resort. While some resorts around this hemisphere are counting down the days until the end of their ski season, we are still looking forward to skiing much more fresh snow over the next good couple of months or so.

So I’m hearing ‘complaints’ of friends and colleagues coming off the mountain for their work shifts (mainly because they have to come off the mountain!) telling anyone and everyone that’ll listen ho they’re getting relentless ‘face-shots’ at every which way they turn.

For the unfamiliar, ‘face-shots’ are the ultimate indication of how much powder has fallen in paces as the snow ‘jumps up’ and his you in the face, usually as your making a turn (or several). The best one was hearing of this ‘problem’ from some individuals who were a little miffed that they didn’t even have to put any turns in to receive this reward waiting for them. For much of this last week, anyone who wanted it, there was knee deep or even waist deep powder to be had and there’s promise of more to come.

Having said all this, as always to everyone’s frustration, the trouble with receiving so much snow at once, is that this can often mean that it’s not always accessible. The problem is that too much heavy snowfall tends to lend itself to potential for avalanches in certain spots and of course, ski patrol and mountain safety have to cover all of these areas, often setting off controlled avalanches to ensure everyone’s safety.

Sometimes with high snowfalls, these can often come during storms and these can come with high winds, which can also result in the higher, more exposed areas of the mountain, typically the higher alpine, being closed off temporarily. So what does all this mean?

Well, actually, aside from being a little busy at times in past days as everyone is congested into some of the lower mountain, the recent days have allowed some awesome days skiing and riding as all those areas previously temporarily closed off, now open, full of untouched divine snow and a lot more terrain for everyone to have a blast on. Tough eh!

On a slightly sour note, but worth of note, there has been once again this year, a few deaths due to avalanches around British Columbia. Obviously any number of deaths is one too many, but unfortunately if someone chooses to make the alpine their playground and take their snowmobiles and themselves backcountry skiing where there are no patrols or controlled areas, the inherent risks are always higher.

That said, if everyone played by the rules, skied with others with all the correct apparatus such as transmitters, receivers and beacons in case of search and rescue, shovels, etc and had sufficient backcountry and avalanche skills and training, then a lot more fatalities could be avoided.

Back to the ridiculous amount of snow though that Ullr has seen fit to bestow upon us; what else does this bring to the resort? Well, the room night bookings are up. It’s come at a very opportune moment as Canada experiences extended spring breaks as the various provinces take their turns at vacationing. Hundreds of families and parents looking to get away and looking for last minute weather blessings. Where else in North America would you go to – Whistler of course!

So aside from some HUGE, smiles from every local and many tourists with very tired legs, there are those who don’t enjoy all the powder with such verve as the rest of us. Of course typically all these days full of freshly ‘dumped’ precipitation equates to some overcast skies, often ‘whiteout’ conditions with poor visibility. Difficult to have one without the other, right! Therefore, those looking for sun filled days, bluebird skies and not so much as a flicker of any fresh snow, well, let’s review the forecast in a week or two.

To end this homage to our local snow gods – If we could please just keep all the fresh snow onto the hills where it belongs and let all the local roads and trails clear of snow now, I for one will be a lot happier. Can you believe it’s officially spring in less than one week?!