The Hollyburn Pacific Ski Club, of Vancouver, B.C.
Rudolph J. Verne (1928)
The Canadian Pacific Coast has been described as “The Evergreen Playground of Canada,” and it may sound like a paradox to ask our ski friends in the East to bring their skis with them when they come to visit us on the Coast; so in explanation I shall endeavor to describe briefly the discovery and unique situation of the Hollyburn Ski Camp and to throw some light on our really remarkable winter conditions which the rest of the world knows little or nothing about.
Six years ago in the month of May, the writer, an enthusiastic and old country skier, decided to explore the mountains adjacent to Vancouver in the hope of discovering and suitable Ski Country. It was a difficult and hazardous trip over snowfields, canyon like passes and mountain country, but came to naught, as the rugged nature of the country made pleasure ski in quite impossible.
The next day I persuaded a Norwegian friend of mine to join me in another attempt, so we shouldered our ski and started off. I well remember on our walk down the main street how our “snow skates” aroused great interest and curiosity, as ski in those days were a rarity. People thought we had just come from Alaska and asked us all kinds of amusing questions.
We had intended to go by ferry to North Vancouver, but taking the wrong boat, landed instead at the thriving little municipality, West Vancouver. It was too late to go back so we decided to proceed, and as the mountains looked so much lower than the ones I had previously explored, we left our ski at the wharf, not expecting to find any snow on our trip.
We hit the trail and climbed up some 2,500 feet, and at that level found a wonderful mountain flora around an old mill site, a most delightful resting spot. Continuing our climb, judge our surprise, when after a further forty minutes we discovered a winter fairyland.
We were on an extensive high level plateau, a heavy blanket of snow covering all underbrush to a depth of eight feet, offering the most perfect skiing imaginable, while the stance of Western Cypress with its silver bark added a truly Alpine touch to the winter landscape. In the distance mighty Mount Baker reared his majestic snow-clad head; further south Mount Rainier was plainly visible 189 miles distant, with the crater-like peak of Mt. Garibaldi in the midst of the glacier-filled Garibaldi Park in full view, and close at hand a mountain chain resembling the Canadian Rockies all around 5,000 feet in height. It was a gorgeous outlook, its beauty overwhelming. We had discovered a veritable skier’s paradise, eclipsing anything I’d ever seen or mentioned.
That was six years ago. Today there are thousands of young people in Vancouver who will support this statement, and the popularity that the Hollyburn Ski Camp, the headquarters of the Hollyburn Pacific Ski Club, enjoys is foolproof that we were not wrong in our estimate formed that first wonderful day.
Our ski club is situated within a five-mile radius of the city of Vancouver, on Hollyburn Ridge Mountain. A half-hour ferry service to West Vancouver, a motor bus to the foot of the mountain, from there either hiking, or for the more lazily inclined, a western pony up an easy trail, to our cabin on the plateau, two short hours from the city.
The elevation here is 3,200 feet, and the skiing season exceptionally long. Last year on July 16th we had grand sport on our farewell trip, and this fall we opened the season on November 14th. Nowhere else that I know of is there such a prolonged period of really fine skiing. It may truly be said that winter lingers in the lap of summer on Hollyburn Ridge, and is the only place where winter and summer are but ninety minutes apart.
In May or June you may enjoy a swim at English Bay in the forenoon and go skiing in the afternoon. If you do not get tanned on the beach, you are sure to acquire a healthy coat of brown up at the ski camp, but have a care for the ultraviolet rays, as at 4,000 feet elevation they may put you to bed for a week. You may bring your bathing suit along on your ski trip. No heavy Arctic clothing is needed here and the air is so dry and clear that colds are unknown.
After some thrilling skiing over the most ideal ski ground, you will enjoy your lunch immensely at our comfortable cabin, or beneath the branches of a picturesque cypress or majestic Douglas fir. The snowfall is tremendous, at the height of the season, reaching a measured depth of 24 feet, and the snow perfect for skiing, the ski slide always easy - waxing is seldom necessary here.
The Hollyburn Pacific Ski Club is indeed fortunate in having their headquarters in this wonderful spot. The cross-country skiing is excellent and our club will be heard from in the future, if training and good instruction counts for anything, and we are bringing along a number of young men who will be able hold their own in any company.
Our skiers think nothing of hiking up 3,200 feet with a 40 pound pack on their back and then going out for a several hours’ cross-country trip. Ski jumping is not neglected and we have an excellent jumping hill where distances of better than 150 feet can be made, and on the membership role of the club are several Swedish and Norwegian champions, and our younger members will before long rank up with the best.
Looking ahead, I can see that when the Olympic Games are held in Los Angeles in 1932, that we will be able to well take the place that St. Moritz does this year, as we have everything at Hollyburn that can be offered by any ski centre in the whole world.
To open/download a copy of the Hollyburn Pacific Ski Club brochure, CLICK HERE.