Rolling with the Punch
At the outset, the winter of 2004-05 seemed fairly typical. Shortly after Christmas, however, the weather turned unseasonably cold and dry. As a result, for a number of weeks we were skiing into a crevasse leading under Blackcomb Glacier and re-emerging through another crevasse well below. Although this experience on its own quali?es the season as an anomaly, things became increasingly strange as the winter progressed.
In the latter half of January we suffered two weeks of rain all the way into the alpine, dubbed the Tropical Punch by weather forecasters. Unfortunately, with 2010 looming in the distance, this was the portion of the season that received the most publicity—even drawing coverage on CBC TV’s The National at a time when any positive spin was impossible. Quite frankly, it sucked. Thankfully, it lasted only two weeks.
Late January through March was fairly sunny but unusually warm and dry. Not great for the snowpack or the powderhounds but visitors seemed satis?ed—and the mountain biking was great. To put things in perspective, I came off the hill more than once in February a little frustrated with the lack of snow, put on a pair of shorts and took a nap in a lawn chair on the deck.
Looking back on the season, I can’t help but laugh at the resigned optimism that waxed and waned in town as the season wore on. Early in the year many were certain that if we struggled through Christmas, big dumps would arrive in January. When the rains came in January, we forecasted heavy snow for March. When spring arrived in February, we set our sights on a solid April and May. When the ?rst half of March passed without a change in weather, many were resigned to write off the entire season and focus on summer pursuits. Then, ?nally, when even the most sanguine had given up, the ?rst bright spot arrived.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine who had recently returned from a season in Utah asked how my winter was. He chuckled when I said “it ?nished up well.” But I really did leave the season on a high note. After a month of great skiing, the ?nal day of the TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival, the unof? cial end to the Canadian ski season, was one of the best powder days of the year. I left the season excited for next year and with more respect than ever for Whistler-Blackcomb.Tags: 2004 ski season, 2005 ski season, Blackcomb Glacier, British Columbia, Whistler, Whistler-Blackcomb