Rain Forest Powder In Another Time

Powder should not exist in a Rain Forest and time travel is impossible. My how one’s perception can change with a visit to Mount Cain on Vancouver Island where the impossible is true and time stands still.

We all know that T-bars are out of favour, especially for boarders, and resorts have gotten rid of them? Wrong. To begin with Mount Cain is not a resort, it’s a ski hill and yes, there are only T-bars and they are nice and slow and ensure the powder doesn’t get skied out!

Out houses, do resorts have out houses in the base area? No. But ski hills did years ago and places like Fernie still have out-houses in the Alpine and Mt Cain has many. Skier visits are 7000 and that’s for the year, right? Wrong. 7000 visits is for the season which averages about 170 skiers per day on Saturday and Sunday, the only days the ski-hill is open other than holidays. Aussies serving lifts, NO. The lifties are all volunteers as are all of the other work positions. The ski-hill is operated as a not-for-profit society for the surrounding communities and families in the North Island.

My friend Adam who is a employee at Whistler called Mount Cain the “anti-resort” and yes it does not meet any definition of resort, which is a good thing for some. My urban friends took their kids to Mount Cain and they vomited at the smell of an out-house and felt threatened by the local trailer park. I grew up in Eastern Canada with grandparents who only had an outhouse and ski-hills which had trailers and home made lifts. Today’s kids are growing up with Whistler as a standard: valet parking and sushi everywhere. I questions the expectations and values our children are developing at our swanky resorts.

Mount Cain’s tag line is “The Best Powder On The Island” and it is. It could be tagged the only powder on the island. With only 170 day skiers the powder lasts and when is snows mid-week nobody is there to track it out. And when the snow does get tracked, simply traverse to another bowl and hike out. Don’t expect the deep and dry of the Rockies however is is decent by a Rain Forest standard.

In my opinion Mount Cain is not for everyone however those who do get to go there are in for a very special treat. It’s a skiers mountain with great terrain and a decent snow pack. For a look at the roots of our favourite pastime and great skiing I highly recommend the trip “up-island” as the locals would say!

photos by S. Fowler

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