Mountain shows resiliency in a tough season

Harry BearAs the 2014-15 winter season draws to a close, SPIN sat down with Sun Peaks Resort Corporation’s mountain operations manager, Jamie Tattersfield, to chat about the highs and lows of an unusual winter across B.C.

“Heading into the season, we had high hopes. We were firmly established as the second largest ski resort in Canada thanks to our boundary changes,” Tattersfield said. “Every department was working well and all the pieces were in place for a great season.

“Things started out pretty normal. We started our snowmaking early, and the little expansion we’d done on Chute worked well. We were able to offer a really good experience for the pre-season (alpine and cross-country) training.”

Race teams from across Canada travelled to Sun Peaks in early November to take advantage of the early season snow conditions.

“We were really encouraged by the early season conditions, but once the season started, Mother Nature just didn’t provide did she?”

“We got through Christmas, there was a big dump at the start of January, and then for some reason the weather gods went quiet. I think we went without any precipitation for about a month.

With the snow dropping off, Tattersfield said the number of local skiers on the hill began to drop away as well.

“Local skiers can pick and choose what days to ski, and they opted to wait and see. That’s when the traffic started to drop off.”

Tattersfield said the decision to extend the season by an extra week — a decision made quite early in the season —proved to be beneficial for late season skiers.

“The spring product up top in the final week of the season was great. The grooming department just nailed it.”

Despite the poor snow conditions in western Canada this season, Tattersfield said the season had been far from a disaster.

“It has really shown the resiliency of this region in a poor snow year. We were certainly able to provide a very credible product.”

Tattersfield said the season had also taught them some valuable lessons.

“In summer, we’ll be re-grading a number of runs so that they can hold snow better in the early season. One of the things about a low snow season like this is we’re able to identify whether runs are holding their snow well or not.”

Another positive this season — altering the ski boundary around Gil’s has resulted in a massive drop in search and rescue efforts.

“Last season, we had about eight people who required assistance out of bounds. This season, we haven’t had one. That’s a win.”

Tattersfield thanked all the mountain operations crews for their hard work this season.

“Operationally, the crews worked together really well. We’ve had a great season, and now we look forward to the next one.”

Keep up to date with Sun Peaks Resort here.