The Alta Lake Ice Break-Up contest came to a glorious close this year at 4:20 p.m. on Friday, April 25 th . Whistlerites Chris O’Donohue and Dave Forbes guessed the time that the barrel on Alta Lake would float past the Whistler Hostel to the precise minute. Asked why he went with 4:20, Chris O’Donohue said, “It’s just a lucky time of day I guess.”
O’Donohue has been in Whistler for a year-and-a-half, and both he and Dave Forbes work at the Fairmont Chateau. “We saw the kids outside the grocery store (selling tickets) and wanted to help them out,” he said.
The Alta Lake Ice Break-Up contest is a fund raiser for the Alta Lake School, Whistler’s Waldorf school, with this year’s proceeds going to street hockey equipment. The raffle was started in the late 1950s to raise money for the Alta Lake Volunteer Fire Department. After a hiatus of a couple of decades, the Alta Lake School resurrected the tradition in 2002.
Florence Petersen, a long-time resident of Alta Lake Road, and the first winner of the barrel contest nearly 50 years ago, was only an hour and 20 minutes off with her guess.
Hassan Sherkat, who also lives along the lake, was one minute closer with a guess of 3:01 p.m. Residents of Alta Lake Road are consistently close with their guesses, but it’s no easy task to pinpoint when the barrel will float past the hostel.
“Guessing when that ice will break is like giving birth,” said Dave Galt, a father of two and resident of Alta Lake Road who guessed noon on April 25 th . Bea Searle, another Alta Lake resident, guessed April 24 th , when much of the ice floated north, though the barrel hung on to a small patch at the south end. “If the barrel was placed out front of my house,” she said, “I would have been really close.”
Second place was a tie between Chris Sanders, a parent at the school, and Gavin Riley, a kindergarten student, who both guessed 4 p.m. on April 25th. Sanders will receive a copy of Top of the Pass: Whistler and the Sea-to-Sky Country , and Riley a children’s book. Kim Ladoucer guessed 3:33 p.m., April 25 th to capture third prize, two pounds of organic coffee roasted on the west side of Alta Lake at the Whistler Roasting Company.
Along with the $250 first prize, O’Donohue and Forbes will get their names engraved on the new Ice Break-Up trophy created by Alta Lake School dads, Rob Rainer and Dennis Van Dongen.