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Standing the test of time

Tyrol Ski and Mountain Club celebrates 60th Anniversary



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In 1962 Tyrol president Rolf Frowein landed an opportunity to buy five acres of land next to Nita Lake, where the current Tyrol Lodge sits. The cost was $5,000, far beyond what the club could afford, but through a joint purchase with the social club Sons of Norway, Tyrol was able to claim three of those five acres. A small hut was built initially (which still stands above the caretaker's house) for members to use as a base for ski touring and work on the member's lodge began in 1966, just in time for the opening of the newly named Whistler Mountain.

Today the Tyrol Ski and Mountain Club has 366 members, mainly from the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and Washington State. While the club has evolved over its lifetime, the process of attaining membership has not changed over the last 60 years.

"We have a lot of traditions that still are in place," said Brown.

"If someone wants to become a member they have to be referred by two (other members) and they have to come up on a work weekend and help us fix up the lodge. That way we can get to know them and they can get to know us. We fully expect that members will pitch in and repair the lodge as well."

But the traditions don't just revolve around membership, Tyrol has always been family friendly. Back in the '60s and '70s when Whistler was more of a recreational frontier than a resort town, many lodges such as the Tyrol existed. Over the years as more single family homes and complexes were built, many of the affordable, family-oriented lodges were lost.

"(The lodges) were a mainstay in those days, before all these gigantic hotels, condos, cabins and mansions," said local author Stephen Vogler, whose family lived in the caretaker's building during his teenage years in the '70s.

"To see places like that being used is nice because it keeps some of our history alive in the valley."

The history that Vogler speaks of tells the story of a lodge full of like-minded people, sharing facilities with respect and consideration for each other and letting the children play together in the games room while the adults chat and socialize in the lounge. There are few accommodations in Whistler today that can provide that experience at a competitive price, and even fewer that would go as far as banning TV. The Tyrol Lodge allows no TVs, DVDs or any kind of movie watching facilities at the lodge, following a policy of, "connect with people, not technology!"

By preserving its deeply-rooted European traditions and receiving the undying support of its members this unique piece of Whistler history has certainly stood the test of time.