RYAN REPORT – video: why a Vancouver Island two T-bar hill is better than Whistler-Blackcomb

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I live on an island in the Pacific. It may not sound like the best place for skiing, but all the rain that turns the west coast of Vancouver Island into a temperate rainforest switches to snow about mid-way up the Island Alps. The mountains here receive some of the deepest snowpacks in North America. Mount Washington Alpine Resort routinely tallies more snow than Whistler-Blackcomb.

With a modern lift network and a moat around its audience Mount Washington is one of the three busiest resorts in B.C. But it is not the island’s only ski hill. Two hours north sits Mount Cain Alpine Park.

What the two T-bar hill lacks in infrastructure it makes up for in character. It’s run completely by volunteers. It’s only open on weekends and the occasional Monday and Friday. The gnarly access road is uphill traffic only in the morning and downhill only in the afternoons. It’s off the grid and cell-signal free. The huge backcountry is right out either boundary and the in bounds is rope to rope with some of the best tree skiing anywhere. And then there are the legendary parties that rock the log cabin, day lodge apres, before spilling out into trailer park after parties.

The magic that is Mount Cain is well captured in the short ski film “It’s Just Us”  by 10 Barrel Brewing. I’ve never witnessed a shiny hockey game – there’s always too much snow on the pond – but I have heard about them. The rest is just as awesome as it looks.

RYAN REPORT is a frequent web post by Ski Canada magazine’s technical editor, Ryan Stuart.

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