Let the Backcountry Ski Season begin!

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Each year when I arrive up at O’Hara to get things unwrapped for the winter season I am always excited. I look forward to our new staff arriving; actually old staff as many come to us from our past summer season, meeting both our returning and new guests and of course skiing familiar places and hopefully finding that hidden gem of a ski line that I have overlooked all these years. This year was no different on those fronts. However this year we arrived to unseasonably warm weather. In all my years at O’Hara I had never experienced such warm weather persisting for such a long time. The snowpack at the lodge was soaked, it was sinking lower with each day and I was figuring that it would take a dump of snow and a miracle to salvage it all. My hope was that at least the weather would be cooler above the lodge thus preserving the snow and making for some ok backcountry skiing. That was probably overly optimistic considering the reports coming in from other ski operations across BC! With more pressing concerns we started opening the lodge; hauling in supplies, getting our generators fired up after being winterized since October, warming up buildings and getting water flowing. The warm weather was a blessing for the start up as we had no problems getting buildings warmed and as a result no freezing pipes. With the dusting complete, fresh sheets on the beds and our Chef Jess baking up a storm we had the lodge ready for our first guests by weeks end.

Ski Day for the Staff

Ski Day for the Staff

Family and Friends

Each year we start the season off with a group who have booked the whole lodge out for over 30 years. The group seems more like family and friends as we share stories about kids growing up, travels and lives right hand turns. Over the years some of the faces in the group have changed, new members added and a few long timers still joining in, however what stays the same is the enthusiasm, congeniality and excitement to be back at O’Hara. Expectations are a huge part of our business and we strive to meet peoples expectations when it comes to the customer service that we provide. One thing that we can’t control is the weather and based on reports people were hearing about ski conditions across BC our group of guests arrived with low expectations with respect to skiing. Lets just say that folks left on Sunday afternoon having had some of the best skiing we have experienced up here at O’Hara. Our hope of finding less crust higher up prevailed for us on Friday and an influx of beautiful light fluffy powder Friday night conspired to create some stellar conditions on Saturday. We had calf deep powder all day which put smiles a mile wide on peoples faces. In fact a hard charging crew held out till 4 pm when both the Sauna and Apres Ski goodies ( maybe a Pisco Sour too) finally called them home. As with Vegas “What happens at O’Hara stays at O’Hara” so we won’t get into all the shenanigans that the group got up to but lets just say we  feel that the first weekends guests started our season on a positive note and we are looking forward to the next two months and sharing O’Hara with both those people experiencing O’Hara for the first or 30th time.

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Making sure it is safe to ski

Making sure it is safe to ski

Grooming the Road

For years  the lodge has taken on the task of grooming and track setting the O’Hara road during our operational season. As many who have been following our Journal know last year we added a used Bombardier Snowcat to our fleet with the intention of decreasing our trips on the road by allowing us to transport our supplies with less Ski-doo runs while at the same time providing a far superior product for people skiing up the road. After a preliminary season last year and the couple of weeks we have been here this season I can honestly say that we have accomplished that in spades. We are now able to combine our food runs, recycling and grooming all in one. In the past this would have taken us upwards of 10 Ski-doo trips to accomplish. The comfort of riding in a heated enclosed cab also helps. We try and groom at least once a week however with changing snow conditions we have been track setting twice a week these past two weeks. You can always check out our home page where we will post the latest grooming. Also you can head to Skier Bob’s site and check the most recent conditions as we will update him on a regular basis as well.

Laying Fresh corduory at dusk

Laying Fresh corduroy at dusk

So as we transitioned from wet slushy to icy rock hard to perfect powder we look forward to having a great winter season of amazing ski touring. If you fancy a cross country ski into O’Hara and can come on a Saturday or Sunday then join us between noon and 2 pm for Soup, Salad and Dessert in our historic main lodge ( $22 per person, cash only up here in the woods!). If you are coming up throughout the week or just wish to ski into the area the Lake O’Hara Trails Club opens up their Day Shelter, Le Relais, as a warming hut  where you can get inside and light a fire and enjoy your lunch. If you are thinking that you would like to enjoy Lake O’Hara for longer and wish to experience both the backcountry touring and our warm hospitality we would love to have you come and stay and we will show you around. Call us about availability as there are a few openings still available this winter.

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