There’s no sugar-coating it: it’s been a tough winter, weather-wise for Hudson Bay Mountain Resort (HBMR).
After nearly a month of delays due to a lack of snow the resort finally opened on Dec. 18.
Almost like clockwork, however, just as things were starting to look good for the mountain and the snow was falling they were hit with a series of closures due to high winds.
HBMR Marketing and Events Specialist Janet Doyle said the dozen or so times they’ve had to close down the resort due to extreme winds is unusually high but it’s a decision they have to make for the safety of their customers.
“I think we’ve seen now 11 or 12 days lost due to wind and from my understanding it’s something we’re seeing across the province with B.C. hydro having challenges,” she said.
Doyle said it’s always a frustrating decision for the mountain to have to make but that their first and foremost concern is the safety of their customers.
She said it’s especially tough when they know families, often from out of town, could already be on the road heading up to the mountain.
HMBR posts a daily mountain report for up-to-date info on mountain conditions and any run closures, which Doyle said is the best place anyone looking for the latest info on conditions.
To that point, she said this year’s team has been amazing dealing with the number of weather-related curveballs nature has thrown at it.
“We really are in love with skiing and snowboarding and we want to be open and we want to be running the lifts and having everybody out here.”
However even when mother nature was cooperating, Murphy was not.
On Feb. 22 at around 3 p.m. the mountain’s Skyline chairlift encountered an issue and stopped working.
Doyle said the culprit ended up being an issue with the service break and the wiring in one of the smaller pieces of the lift.
The part was shipped off to Terrace where it was evaluated and then subsequently shipped off to Surrey to be fixed.
It wasn’t fixed until the weekend before last but, as Doyle explains, HBMR wanted the part back so badly their maintenance manager drove through a snowstorm to get it.
“[He] started to work on it that night at about 4 o’clock, 5 o’clock at night [and] worked into the dark.”
After a day of testing on Mar. 4, the lift was back in operation starting Mar. 5.
Similarly, the team had to ship off a snowcat to Finning Canada in Houston for mechanical repairs which ended up in the company coming on board with the mountain as a sponsor.
It’s just one example of what Doyle pointed to as an overwhelmingly positive community in the area, adding that the mountain appreciates how understanding and supportive the community has been to the challenges they’ve faced.
“It’s what brought me to this community, you know, being here on Schnai Day [and] seeing how engaged the community is.
“We wouldn’t be able to do this without all of our partners and our loyal season passholders they’ve been just outstanding.”
But with bad always comes good, and Doyle said up on the mountain the whole team is excited for a great end to the season, with a number of community events still scheduled for March and April.
That includes a beer-themed scavenger being put on by the mountain in coordination with Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse as well as a number of discount weekends coming up for various communities.
The mountain also has one more “Never Ever Day” — a promotion where new skiers can can get a lift ticket, lessons and rentals for only $25 (guests must register at skicanada.org/never-ever-days/).
Doyle also unveiled the theme of this year’s annual Schnai Day: superheroes.
“I’m going to get a Wonder Woman costume so I’m going to take it pretty seriously,” she said.
Given all the weather-related issues they’ve had this year, she said the entire team at the mountain wants to make sure the end of the season is as awesome as possible.
“We traditionally do just one event on sunday but we’re getting some awesome events together and I think people are going to be really excited about a whole weekend full of just action-packed fun skiing on the mountain.
“Schnai Day was my first event that I attended [at HBMR] and that’s what sold me on this mountain and this community so I’m really looking forward to making it an incredible experience this year for everyone.”
As part of their community engagement the mountain is also currently working on a survey to ask community members exactly what they want the mountain to focus on.
Doyle said it’s a way for a tight-knit team operating on a small budget to address things in the most utilitarian manner.
“We want to make sure we’re addressing the priorities that the community is coming to us with so we’re getting great feedback and we’re [about] to do a more official process — we have a really good plan going forward.”