“Had a great ski on Saturday!”
“What do you mean, ‘ski’? There’s not enough snow!”
“Enough for me!”
At least a few-dozen skiers have had that conversation recently.
The Mount Mac Loop was a skier’s dream on Thanksgiving weekend: plenty of snow, frosty trees and, finally, some blue sky for a perfect holiday Monday. And, of course, it was the first time on skis since late April (or May, for those who didn’t give up early in the spring).
Anybody who has read this far probably appreciates the craziness of hunting for the first of the season’s snow. It’s a lot more fun to find it and slide on it than to pretend it’s not there. If we’re lucky, it’ll be here for another six months.
The crazy skiers, who can’t wait for that first time on snow, had to drive 20 minutes up to Mount McIntyre to gain about 1,500 feet in elevation. While it rained downtown, 20 centimetres of new snow accumulated and provided excellent skiing on the Mount McIntyre Loop.
The loop is nearly five kilometres long with easy terrain and some nice views. A short ski, farther up the McIntyre Road, provides a spectacular view of Fish Lake and Mount Granger.
Thanksgiving weekend is early for skiing, but in the 80s, it was fairly common to have snow on the Mount McIntyre Loop for Thanksgiving.
The TEST Ski Program had a beautiful cabin there, built by Jack Fraser in the late 70s. It became a focal point for the ski club, and many people spent Thanksgiving weekend at the Fraser Hut. A wood-fired sauna, built by Grant Abbott, made it even better.
The cabin burned down on New Year’s Eve, 1995.
For several years, the early skiing was no better on the mountain than it was on Selwyn’s Loop, only a three-kilometre walk from the “chalet”.
If the early snow holds on, it will be one of the earliest years ever for skiing on Selwyn’s Loop. Selwyn’s had 10 to 15 centimetres of snow just before Thanksgiving, and one eager trail groomer, Tom Fairman, packed it just in case. The idea of packing snow this early is to help it last through warmer temperatures. Even a one-inch base is a good start for the season.
Those who push the season’s limits should be prepared for rocks and bumps. And do not attempt to ski down any hills that aren’t packed. Early season is not a good time to try cross country for your first time.
If you’re patient or not willing to scratch your skis, it’s looking like skiing will start very soon, anyway.
Mike Gladish is the manager of the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club. Contact him at info@xcskiwhitehorse or 668-4477. Or you can visit the website at www.xcskiwhitehorse.ca.