While Whistler has seen record amounts of snow this season, very little of it has fallen in the valley bottom in the last two months.
As a result the Lost Lake Cross Country Ski Trails officially closed for the season on Friday, March 5, which means those trails are no longer snow-groomed and are open to everyone.
"We just had too thick of a snowpack and some burnt out sections on the east side of the lake," explained Roger Weetman, manager of recreation services for the municipality. "It's been a little bit of a warm season and we were in there snow farming for as long as we could. We used any clean snow we could find, whether it was from the arena or any errant snowpiles out there. Up until a week ago we were doing that with the roads department to keep our product on the ground as long as possible for the community and for the Whistler Nordics."
Weetman says there is snow in the forecast that might keep the season going a little longer, but said staffing was an issue. As well, the number of skiers using the trails usually drops at this time every year as people swap their skis for bikes.
"We did achieve our 10 weeks, which is what we consider an average season," said Weetman. "Last year we had a late start and a later finish, and this year an earlier start and an earlier finish."
The trails are now officially open to the public again, but Weetman cautioned people to be careful as there is a sheet of thick ice covering some trails, as well as thick snow on the western trails that don't receive as much sunlight.
"It's probably a little early to be biking," he said.
But while Lost Lake is closed there is still cross-country skiing available at Whistler Olympic Park and on the Callaghan Country trails, with a packed snowbase starting at around 70 cm. Some trails and the day lodge at Whistler Olympic Park will be closed for the Paralympic cross country and biathlon events, but the legacy trails are open to the public. Parking is also available, but limited.
Callaghan Country, which was also closed for the Games, is now open and reporting a snow base of 350 cm for their alpine trails - enough to keep skiing long into the spring.
For more information visit www.whistlerolympicpark.ca and www.callaghancountry.com.