A Brave Ski Mom interview with Amber, a Brave Ski Mom of two daughters from British Columbia
Why Mount Washington?
We live on Vancouver Island, so Mount Washington is fairly close to our home. Not only that, but last year, Mount Washington had some of the most snow in the world — over 800 centimeters (over 315 inches)!
I have 20 years experience teaching skiing, as well as Ski Patrol. I’ve just started as an instructor at Mount Washington and a free ride coach. My daughter skis free ride, so we’re spending a lot of time up there.
What makes Mount Washington good for kids and families?
Mount Washington is near the small towns of Comox and Courtenay. These are towns with a family atmosphere. Mount Washington is not a big destination resort, but rather a real community. There are more condos than hotels and lots of people live here year round.
Mount Washington is not a huge mountain. But is does have a wide variety of terrain. For beginners, the mountain has just installed four covered magic carpets in their Easy Acres area. This makes Easy Acres a really great place for kids to learn to ski and the resort is putting a lot of emphasis on the beginning skiing and riding program.
Once you’re out of Easy Acres, the terrain is graduated clear up to advanced and extreme. There are lots of lifts including a detachable six pack and since Mount Washington isn’t as busy as some resorts, there is no crowding and few lift lines.
What would make Mount Washington even better?
I can’t really think of anything. The resort has cross-country skiing, family snowshoeing and tubing. There is also a cross-country training lodge that was built as part of the 2010 Legacy project. There is night skiing on Thursday through Sunday nights and a fondue/snowshoe on Fridays and Saturdays beginning at 5:00 p.m.
Do you have any “secrets” about to share about Mount Washington?
Mount Washington has awesome powder skiing and excellent tree and glade skiing. I never skied glades and trees until we came here. As for powder, there have been days when the powder is past my knees and up to my waist. Despite being near the ocean, the snow is fairly dry and light. It’s not cement type snow, but we also don’t have a champagne dry climate either.
What advice would you give other families before they come to Mount Washington?
I would remind them that the climate on Vancouver Island is a lot warmer. People coming here tend to overpack and overdress. A very low temperature at Mount Washington is -4 C or maybe -12 C (24 or 10 degrees fahrenheit). It never gets cold here like it does in Alberta.
Also there is so much to do and see on Vancouver Island. People really friendly. We don’t have lift lines. It’s just not as busy as the big resorts.
What makes Mount Washington unique?
People here like to talk about how you can ski in the morning and surf in the afternoon! Or mountain bike, or hike or play golf!
But what is really unique is the amazing view. You can ride up the Eagle chairlift and see mountains and snow all around you. But if you look far north you can see the ocean. This floors me every time I see it. When there are no clouds, you can see across Georgia Strait and the San Juan Islands, all the way to Vancouver.
The weather can change really fast, too. You can have a day when it’s snowing hard followed by a total bluebird powder day. It might snow really hard in the morning and then the ocean breezes will blow the clouds away and it will be beautiful.
Also our season is long. Although the resort is open from December through mid-April, there is so much snow that Mount Washington usually reopens for Father’s Day and the first weekend of July. We call it “snowmer.” Last season it was so snowy, that the resort had to shovel snow off the mountain to open the bike park!
Where do you like to eat at Mount Washington?
Dining out there are two restaurants at the hill, two cafeterias, a slopeside sushi restaurant and two cafes. And many great restaurants in the Comox Valley. Fat Teddy’s is a favorite for slope side dining and is a nightclub after 9pm. And, of course, our “Hawk Dog” stand at the base of the Hawk chair.
What about lodging?
There are many great condo’s and chalets for rent at the hill. Look under accommodations on the website.
Slope side are the Bear and Deer lodges for ski in/ski out accommodation. We have stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. It is great for families with a pool and continental breakfast. I have heard great things about the Best Western Westerly and The Riding Fool Hostel in Cumberland.
What is your favorite memory of Mount Washington?
I would have to say skiing with my husband and daughters last year. It was the first year that we had our youngest daughter skiing. My husband taught her. Being able to see her ski and realize what he had done with her was amazing! It was amazing for all of us to ski together!
My favorite memory from skiing when I was growing up was going on trips with my family and other families. We made so many family memories together. My parents are really happy that we’re passing this onto our daughters.
Do you have any tips to share with other parents?
I think that sometimes people get very caught up in gear and technique. For sure, as an instructor I get caught up in technique. Then we forget why we are skiing and why we want our kids to ski. We need to make the space in our heads to remember that this is family time. We need to recapture the sheer love of skiing. Because really, it’s all about the love — the love of family, the love of skiing, and the love of being outside.
The Brave Ski Mom Adds…
Mount Washington is definitely a resort I want to visit. Coastal British Columbia is so beautiful and I had no idea the skiing and snow were so good. Plus the views! It’s on the list.
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