COURTENAY, B.C. – Chairlift operations resumed Monday on Vancouver Island’s Mount Washington after a weekend snowstorm left dozens stranded.
Sheila Rivers of Mount Washington Alpine Resort said about 20 boy scouts and a dozen other people spent Saturday night at its lodge when more than a metre of snow fell in less than 48 hours.
While fresh snow is typically welcomed by skiers and snowboarders, Rivers said the sudden storm resulted in avalanches, making conditions unsafe.
“We had naturally occurring avalanches … which makes human-triggered avalanches very likely,” Rivers said.
She said crews were out Sunday ensuring safety measures were in place.
Those stranded Saturday night enjoyed the restaurant and bar with a clear view of the storm, while the boy scouts had a late-night nacho party and movies the next day.
“A lot of people were just chatting and I think enjoying the time they were having up here. It was an interesting night to just spend at the lodge watching the snowstorm,” Rivers said.
The resort is used to seeing lots of snow on the mountain, but Rivers said Saturday’s storm was among three events in the last 20 years that stand out.
“We are well known for our heavy snowfall, but certainly the fact that it was so condensed, just so much snow in such a short period of time, that’s what makes it so unique,” she said, adding that the one-metre base measured last week is now nearing three metres.
Rivers said crews were aiming to open a third lift, but its higher elevation alpine lift was expected to remain closed for at least Monday due to safety concerns.