Tag Archives: summer skiing

Summer Skiing On (and Off) the Mountain

In the late 1970s, there were two very different ways to ski in Whistler during the summertime: on the snow of the Whistler Glacier with the Toni Sailer Summer Ski Camps (TSSSC) and into the water off of the Lost Lake ski jump. Both got their start as a way for skiers to train through the summer months, though they also attracted recreational skiers looking to learn something new.

The first TSSSC was held in 19966, headed by Austrian alpine ski racer Toni Sailer. At the time, Whistler’s Glacier Bowl was one of the only year-round snowfields in Canada that was easily accessible by lifts, meaning camp participants didn’t have to rely on helicopters or hiking at the beginning and end of each day with their ski gear on their backs.

Toni Sailer, six-time Olympic gold medalist, comes to Whistler from Austria every year to run the ski camp. Whistler Question Collection.

The programming was largely driven by the need for competitive alpine racers to stay in shape and improve their techniques between competition seasons, but the camps were popular with both competitive and recreational skiers. Over the years they expanded to include camps for kids and instruction in novice and intermediate racing, recreational skiing, and, in 1973, freestyle skiing under the tutelage of Wayne Wong, George Askevold, and Floyd Wilkie.

Three well-known hot dog skiers show off their style in 1973 at the Tony Sailer Summer Ski Camp. Left to right: George Oskwold, Wayne Wong and Floyd Wilkie. Murphy Collection.

By 1977, however, freestyle skiers in Whistler had grown frustrated at the lack of summer aerial opportunities offered by the Whistler Mountain camps and began planning for their ski jump in the valley. This ski jump was given no development permit nor any official permission from the newly created Resort Municipality of Whistler or the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and therefore an inconspicuous, out-of-the-way site was required. The group selected a spot on the shores of Lost Lake.

The ski jump also had no funding. The timber was scrounged from a number of sources and the plastic grass ski out from the Olive Chair was taken from the dump and given a new life as the ski jump’s surface. Construction progressed quickly once the materials were gathered, taking over a couple of weeks.

The ski jump emerges from the forest onto Lost Lake. Whistler Question Collection.

When finished, the ramp projected out 6 m over the lake and willing skiers could launch themselves into the air up to 12 m above the water. According to Dave Lalik, one of the original workers on the ramp, “Injuries were commonplace but [an] acceptable risk in the sport and environment of the day.”

Spectators were common, often watching from the water. In 1981, the ski jump began hosting competitions and the first Summer Air Camp at Lost Lake was held in 1982, drawing freestyle skiing to Whistler to train with the national team coach Peter Judge. Far from remaining an inconspicuous site, the Lost Lake Ski Jump could be seen in television broadcasts ad film crews arrived to record events.

A skier flies over Lost Lake. Photo courtesy of Dave Lalik.

Neither Whistler Mountain nor Lost Lake offer opportunities for summer skiing today. Summer ski camps ended on Whistler Mountain in the late 1990s due to the receding glacier and low summer snow levels and, as Lost Lake became less and less lost and more developed, the ski jump was taken down and the site was incorporated as part of Lost Lake Park.

This Week In Photos: June 28

1978

Power lines dip treacherously after Sunday’s strong winds knocked large pieces of deadwood onto the line.

The district track meet in Squamish got lucky with its weather.

Someone was practicing their glass breaking at the liquor store last week. RCMP are investigating.

A new BBQ ready to be installed at Alta Lake Wayside Park.

Sarah, Wendy and Sid try to decide what to do with that nosy photographer during a party Friday.

1980

Arnold Palmer chats with the crowd towards the close of the official ceremony at the Whistler Golf Course.

A chopper spins and dips above Whistler benchlands as the lowest lift of the three chair north face lift system is installed from top down.

Casey Simpson, Eric Bredt, Devin Turner, Rachel Roberts, Corinne Valleau & Stephanie Simpson head out for their sprint with Terry Alway & Alex Marshall officiating.

Phase II Parcel 16 takes shape with Whistler Chairlift N-14 rising through the trees on the left.

Heavy Duty flat deck pulls out the last of two trailers that served as council chambers before Town Centre road construction forced the move.

1981

With a landscaped area, seed for lawn and new curbing in, Sunshine Place takes on a new look. Paving will add a finishing touch and should be completed by the end of July.

Myrtle Philip looks on as Greg Beauregard receives the first ever Myrtle Philip Award. Mother Pat smiles proudly.

Not to be outdone by the Myrtle Philip staff who were in last week’s paper, the staff from Signal Hill Elementary School in Pemberton pose for The Question.

Contestants for the Miss Pemberton Contest look on as BC Minister of Highways, Alex Fraser, explains the provincial grant for Pemberton Airport.

Madeline Domries and her pal Curly Jones wait with great expectations for their fourth prize at Dog Days in the Village Square.

Dressed up at the Alta Lake Community Club Roaring Twenties Pot Luck Dinner, left to right: Max Maxwell, Kelly Maxwell, Diane Smith and Ken Domries.

Susan McCance will run Whistler’s new daycare program.

1982

A chopper heads out with a bucket of water to help squelch the recent forest fire in Cheakamus.

Jan Naylor displays some of the strawberries now ready for picking at the Naylor Berry Farm 3 km north of Pemberton.

Stubborn as a mule! In spite of the efforts of the ‘D’Arcy Prospectors’ this donkey refused to cross the BCR tracks during the Pemberton Parade in celebration of Canada week.

New stop signs often get ignored so the municipality placed reminders in front of this sign on the intersection of Rainbow, Matterhorn and Camino Drive.

Not even the rain stopped these kids from a practice paddle on Alta Lake for the Whistler Country Guides Kids Races. Bad weather postponed the races to Saturday, July 3 at 9:30 at Wayside Park.

1983

Long-time Whistler residents Paul Mathews and Margot Sutcliffe shared a smile on their wedding day Saturday, June 25 at Whistler. Over 150 guests joined the celebration at the Sundial Restaurant.

This house has found its new home on the streets of Whistler.

Round and round and round they danced in celebration of summer. Whistler’s first Midsummer Fest, June 25-26, caught the imagination of hundreds, whether they were Scandinavian or not.

Toni Sailer, six-time Olympic gold medalist, comes to Whistler from Austria every year to run the ski camp.

Dave Murray and Floyd Wilkie have a pre-session consultation at the base of the t-bar.

The Tapley’s Pub softball team poses for a group photo.

Ken Harrop of Singapore Airlines showed his staff and took to the air Saturday during the obstacle race – part one of the three-part Battle of the Travel Stars. Thirty-seven travel agents took part in the two-day fun-filled FAM tour of Whistler.

1984

Scandinavian dancers and musicians filled the village over the weekend for traditional Midsummer festivities. Saturday and Sunday afternoon dancers in garb of the old country whirled about Village Square to folk tunes.

Pemberton Mayor Shirley Henry officially opened the Pemberton Museum Saturday with help from West Vancouver-Howe Sound MLA John Reynolds and his wife Yvonne. Museum curator Margaret Fougberg says most of the collection, which features artifacts dating from the 1860s until the 1950s, was donated by townspeople. The museum building itself has a long history. It was built around 1895 and has been moved twice. It’s permanent location is on Prospect Street in Pemberton.

Whistler Mountains’ miniature golf course at the gondola opened last week and immediately attracted a steady following. The 18-hole course costs $2 a round for adults, $1 for children and is open all day.

Grade seven students went on a computer tour Friday, visiting municipal computers, Twin Peaks Property Management computers and the phototypesetting systems used by the Whistler Question. Pauline Wiebe, Question typesetter, shows students how the machine works.

Speaker Series – Celebrating 50 years of Summer Skiing

It’s been a long, nostalgic winter of celebrating Whistler’s Golden Anniversary. But just as Whistler is known for deep snowpacks that sustain the snow-sliding revelry well past winter, we have an abundance of stories this year to push our regular Speaker Series programming well into spring.

Considering the circumstances, it is only fitting that we prolong our season-long retrospective on our resort’s proud ski history with an event paying tribute to that seasonal oddity peculiar to Whistler, summer skiing. The evening of Friday May 6th we will be hosting a Speaker Series focused on fifty years of summer skiing camps on Whistler’s glaciers.

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Summer glacier skiing in Whistler is as old as the resort itself, having begun during the inaugural season of 1966. Beginning with the original Toni Sailer camps and later Dave Murray camps on Whistler, then moving to Blackcomb’s Horstman Glacier in the 1980s, with Camp of Champions, Momentum Camps, to name just a few, summer skiing in Whistler has been a novel way to compliment and extend the regular ski season, promote the resort with a veritable who’s who of celebrity athletes and guest coaches, and create fifty years of memorable and unique experiences.

Former camper and ski history enthusiast Alex Douglas has organized a weekend long “Whistler Summer Camp Reunion” series of events, with this Speaker Series included. There will also be a reunion dinner hosted at Creekbread on the Saturday, and, of course, group ski outings during the day. One need not be a former camper to attend the Speaker Series event.

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The crew from the 1969 Toni Sailer Summer Camp, including (front row at left) Alan White and Nancy Greene, and Toni Sailer himself (back row, 2nd from right).

The Speaker Series will open with a screening of footage and a short film dating back to the original Toni Sailer Summer Camps of the 1960s and 70s. After the film will be a panel discussion featuring Canadian ski racing legend and former summer camp coach Nancy Greene-Raine, Alan White, founding manager of Toni Sailer camps and one of the true ski pioneers of Whistler, and former coach from the Dave Murray Summer Camp era, Mark Taylor.

Needless to say, this is a wonderful panel of speakers and we are extremely excited to host them and hear their stories.

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A group shot of all the coaches at the Dave Murray Summer Ski Camp, circa late 1980s, including Mark Taylor (back row 4th from the left). The crew was a veritable “who’s who” of Canadian ski racing. Stephanie Sloan Photo.

Doors will open at 6pm, with the presentations beginning at 7pm. Tickets are $10, $5 for museum members. To purchase tickets, stop by the Whistler Museum or call us at 604-932- 2019. To ensure a seat, make sure to purchase in advance as this event will sell out.

As always, we will be serving complimentary coffee provided by the Whistler Roasting Company, assorted tea, and a cash bar serving beer and wine.

Challenging Mother Nature: Glacier Skiing & Riding

With daily temperatures reaching 20°C, lakes warming up, and the faint hint of sun tans beginning to appear, this can only mean one thing… summer is coming. Despite Whistler Blackcomb boasting the longest ski season in North America, June 7th 2015 marks the end of an extended ski season in Whistler for many. However, this is not the case for those die-hard skiers and boarders that defy the stereotypical image of a summer spent laying out on the beach with a cold drink in hand. For those wanting to get their ski/ride fix while simultaneously working on their tan (or goggle tan, to be more exact), you’re in luck as glacier skiing atop Blackcomb Mountain opens this year on June 20th.

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One of two T-bars servicing the Horstman Glacier

While taking a look through our archive, I came across a 1980s video on summer glacier skiing on Whistler peak. It would seem that “ski bums” have been finding ways to escape the bustle of the mountain base and extend their ski season into June and July since the inception of Whistler Mountain in 1965, even before the merging of Whistler and Blackcomb in 1997/98. If you thought the trek from the base to Blackcomb’s peak was extensive, involving a ride up two chairlifts, followed by a bus ride to the base of the 7th Heaven Express, this is rather a simple means of transportation compared to what those dedicated snow bunnies did to reach some summertime snow in the 1980s.

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A photo of Toni Sailor’s Summer Ski Camp, 1969.
Back row from left to right: Dan Irwin, Yves Benvene, Roddy Hebron, Andy Shall, Dag Aabye, Wayne Booth, Toni Sailor, Al Menzies.
Front row from left to right: Alan White, Nancy Greene, Karen Dotta, Colin Haffrey, Roy Ferris.

As the video reveals, the trek from Whistler base to its glacier used to involve a 45 minute ride up the chairlift, followed by a 20 minute hike at 6000 feet across the face of Whistler mountain. Unlike today, in which Horstman Glacier is open to anyone looking to get some T-shirt clad skiing and riding in, glacier skiing during this time of year was only available to those registered in a ski camp. With less time-consuming transportation routes to Blackcomb’s peak now in operation and the ever-growing popularity of Whistler Blackcomb, glacier skiing has gone from being exclusive to those that are very serious about the sport to being accessible by all. That being said, due to the vertical of the glacier, its terrain park features, and world-class race training facilities, it tends to draw a crowd of more advanced/expert skiers and riders.

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Whistler’s summer ski camps offer world class race training facilities, drawing some of the best ski racers in North America

Regular operating hours for the Horstman Glacier are from 12:00 pm to 3:00pm daily, but for those that are eager to get a start on their summertime training, participating in one of Whistler’s many ski camps has its bonuses. These include earlier upload times and select private ski areas. Some of the more long-standing camps include the Camp of Champions, Treeline Summer Camps (formerly the Dave Murray Summer Ski and Snowboard Camp), and Momentum Ski Camp.

While I remain strictly a winter skier, I find the dedication of those willing to challenge mother nature and look for a different way to spend their summer months to be inspiring. As a relatively new Whistler local, I am delighted to become a part of a community that simply loves skiing and snowboarding.

Post by Alexandra Gilliss