rain puddle WHistler
Days like this don’t inspire the usual stoke of winter in a mountain town

I’m tired of the rain. I’m tired of writing about the rain. I’m tired of how it’s affecting business and recreation negatively in our beloved Whistler bubble.
There’s a lot of frustration building up in that bubble right now. Snow has been hit and miss since the beginning of the season and every snow storm seems to be followed by pineapple-shaped water droplets. It’s not what Whistlerites signed up for, be you a 20-year local or a five month seasonal resident.
Whistler is a town of first world problems and we’re all guilty of complaining about such trivial matters. How our season isn’t playing out as awesome as it could be, how we lost our wallet and phone at Garf’s last night, how our local mothercorp ski resort is deliberately misleading the public with propaganda so they can sit in their boardrooms and have money fights.
In case you didn’t catch the sarcasm of that last example, I am of course referring to our community’s most prominent (and in some cases, notorious) public forum, the Whistler Winter Facebook Group. But more on that later.
About eight years ago I worked a season at an Australian ski resort, which will remain unnamed. It was a typical Aussie winter of rain with a little bit of snow here and there, but for the most part it was skiing between the rocks and I kept myself entertained by lapping the three jumps in the terrain park or throwing darts at the pub. During the busiest weeks of the season, the Australian skiing public flocked to this resort and threw down thousands of dollars in accommodation, ski lessons and $100 daily lift tickets. There was a clever marketing tool the resort used known as the “Snow Guarantee,” which allowed customers to cancel and refund their holiday if there weren’t sufficient lifts open. Resorts around the world use this system to ensure customer satisfaction.

Whistler Flood rain
Conditions at the south end of the Whistler Golf Course. Photo taken morning of December 10, 2014.

What customers at this Australian resort didn’t know, was that the the resort had a couple of small rope tow lifts – lifts that accessed no additional terrain – that they could turn on to avoid giving refunds when the frequent rainstorms hit.
I was even more appalled at the ski school sales strategies. During the busiest school holiday period, instructors would head up a chairlift with up to 22 kids under their sole responsibility and lead them in one long gong-show snake down the slope, the kids learning nothing. The CEO of the resort threw us employees a party when those big weeks were behind us, and charged us five dollars at the door.
I have never felt that ripped off in Whistler, either as an employee or as a guest
The Whistler Winter Group is an excellent community resource, a quick way of crowd sourcing information from a collective “hive mind.” Despite Whistler being an amazing place with amazing people, there are members of this group who devolve into the typical cynicism and trolling found in most online comment threads.

Whistler flood rain Blackcomb
The image that sparked the uproar on social media

The rain last Friday was a perfect example. Photos surfaced of the base of the Glacier Express chair under a foot of water, with folks angry and vocal as to why Whistler Blackcomb had a four-day old photo on their website landing page, which featured a skier in powder. “This is deliberately misleading people!” they cried. To be fair, plenty of people added a voice of reason, urging the negativity to not blow out of proportion and that the only reason any of us have the privilege to live here is because there is a ski resort that supports the town, the workforce and that very awesome bubble lifestyle.
What some online soap box activists may not know is that all the weather information is available just one click away on the WB website’s “Snow Report” tab. There’s even a graph displaying the fluctuating freezing level now and explicit mention of the elevations where rain is expected. Web cams show the weather in real time.
We all feel a bit hard done by this season, but keep in mind that even big businesses need to weather the rain, which they do by not posting photos of floods on their website landing page.

This column post first appeared in the Whistler Question on February 10, 2015