Tag Archives: Alta Lake Sports Club

Cross Country Skiing with the ALSC

Today (Saturday, February 25 2017) Callaghan Valley Cross Country will host the Sigge’s P’ayakentsut, a loppet event for all ages and levels of cross country skiing.  With the support of other local cross country ski clubs, the P’ayakentsut offers competitors the choice of a 50, 30 or 15 km course, as well as a 10 km sit-ski course for para-athletes and a 5 km race for kids.  A legacy of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Callaghan Valley Cross Country ensures the continued use of the Whistler Olympic Park for nordic skiing and competition.  Organized cross country skiing, however, has a history in Whistler that far predates the Olympics.

Though not competitive, cross country skiing was a popular winter sport at Rainbow Lodge.

Though not competitive, cross country skiing was a popular winter sport at Rainbow Lodge.

The Alta Lake Sports Club was founded in 1975 to “organize and encourage participation in outdoor sports at all levels of ability in the Whistler area and beyond,” (“Whistler News” Winter 1979/1980) with a focus on cross country skiing.  In their first year, the ALSC organized three races in the valley, attracting up to 125 competitors from clubs within the valley and Vancouver.

The early success of the club inspired the planning of a more permanent 10 km course meant to attract more events.  The proposed course would begin at the Myrtle Philip Elementary School (originally located in the current site of the Delta Village Suites) and then pass over Fitzsimmons Creek and around Lost Lake.   The summer and fall of 1976 were busy ones for members of the club who got together to form work parties to cut through underbrush and hack through slash in logged off areas.  Perhaps the most difficult step was the construction of a bridge over Fitzsimmons Creek which was completed with help of community members such as Lawrence Valleau who provided a free front end loader, Terry Arsenault who donated a day of work operating said front end loader, and the many residents and contractors who donated timber for bridge decking.  By the end of November 1976, despite working in pouring rains and muds likened to quicksand, the new course was complete and the club looked forward to another promising season.

The Alta Lake Sports Club hosted various races through the 1970s and '80s.

The Alta Lake Sports Club hosted various races through the 1970s and ’80s.

Unfortunately for the club, the winter of 1976/1977 was a particularly mild winter with far more rain than expected.  Though there were periods when the new course was in good shape and was used extensively by locals, one after another the events planned by the ALSC were cancelled or moved to Manning Park.  The club had been meant to host the Fischer Cup in January, the BC 50 km Marathon in early February drawing participants from BC, Canada and the United States, and an orienteering race nearer to the end of the month.

A disappointing season at home could not stop the members of the ALSC though.  Over 75 competitors began the 50 km Marathon at Manning Park – only ten finished, three of whom were members of the ALSC.

Despite a wet and mild season, the club continued to encourage the sport of cross country skiing in Whistler.  In 1977 the club purchased an alpine double track skidoo and a track cutter to cut proper tracks and ensure the course could be kept open regularly.  By 1980 the club was again hosting multiple races each season, including the BC Winter Games trials for Zone 5, Molson’s Cup Citizen’s Tour Race, Labatt’s Race, and the Alta Lake Tournament.  They also put forward a proposal in 1980 to build multiple ski trails at Lost Lake, traces of which can be seen in the trails today.

The trails around Lost Lake as proposed by the Alta Lake Sports Club in 1980.

The trails around Lost Lake as proposed by the Alta Lake Sports Club in 1980.

The club was active in promoting more sports than only cross country skiing.  They proposed trails to encourage hiking, walking and running around Lost Lake and organized running events in the summer.  Though no longer active, the Alta Lake Sports Club proved that Whistler could be a destination for sports other than downhill racing and encouraged the growth of sports that continue to flourish in our community today.

Plans for Lost Lake: Then and Now

By guest blogger, Diana Caputo

In 1980 Alta Lake Sports Club compiled a proposal to build cross-country ski trails in the Lost Lake area. At that time cross-country skiing was on the rise and was already a major sporting activity, with many competitor resorts progressing with new terrain for the sport.

The goal of the initial idea was to offer cross-country ski trails suitable for a variety of purposes; the Floodlight run was designed for evening skiing, and runs to support competitions were in the works. It was important to provide grooming and separate hiking trails in winter but also attract hikers, walkers and runners in summer.

The network of trails proposed were split into three areas:

  • School Ground to Lost Lake
  • Northwest of Lost Lake
  • High plateau north of Lost Lake
alsc map003

Proposal for the Construction of Crosscountry ski trails in the Lost Lake Municipal Park, 1980.

The proposal went ahead, although not to the exact specifications. So what has been changed and what is it like today?

Comparing the two maps we can see traces of the original proposed trails in the current landscape; however, today Lost Lake offers much more than originally envisioned. Even the cross-country ski trails boast a wide range of skill-levels. Although the former idea of the Floodlight run is not as originally intended, there are currently four kilometres of lit trail constructed for night skiing. Besides that, there are many snowshoe and Nordic hiking trails provided in winter; although, on the down side, winter walkers are not permitted nowadays.

As soon as the snow hits, it is quite busy on the Lost Lake trails. Unfortunately, the snow conditions over the last two years have been less than ideal, which has caused delays for opening day. Because of this recent pattern of reluctant snowfall, the Municipality of Whistler is considering installing snowmakers to avoid delays in the coming years.

In summer the Lost Lake Park provides much more than planned back in 1980. Lost Lake attracts hikers, runners, dog-walkers, and bikers, with its great multi-use trail network. Lost Lake even offers a disc golf course, sandy beaches, docks, and BBQ areas. Not a bad place to spend your summer days.

[Click to view summer map]

Lost Lake Park also offers cross-country ski, snowshoe, and bike rentals, as well as lessons, and guided tours of the area. I can’t stress enough how enjoyable and impressive the park is in both summer and winter. We’re fortunate to have such a place here in Whistler.