Mount Washington Ski Resort

Situated in the beautiful Comox Valley on Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia, Mount Washington Alpine Resort enjoys one of the largest annual snowfalls in North America with over 10 metres in an average winter, making it a reliable resort for powder skiing.

While Mount Washington’s 505 metre (1647ft) vertical drop may be small in comparison to Whistler or Revelstoke, the terrain at Mount Washington should not be underestimated. The Outback (accessed via the Boomerang Chair) is where you’ll find Mount Washington’s double black diamond runs including cliffs, chutes and couloirs.

Mount Washington claims to have some of the best tree skiing in Canada. With the new development of the Goodtime Glades, intermediates can now experience the same exhilaration of gladed skiing. Almost half of the terrain on this mountain is designated as advanced with the remainder as intermediate cruising groomers and learning areas.

Mount Washington ski resort began in the 1970’s with two double chairlifts and no phones. Thirty years later (with $25 million of reinvestment since the year 2000) Mount Washington has built its reputation as a year round destination resort on strategic development, reliable snowfall and providing a world class guest experience. The panoramic alpine to ocean views are distinct to this resort and are a big attraction. To the west lies Strathcona Provincial Park and to the east the Georgia Strait. There are few places where you can say you are skiing on a Pacific Island!

With amazing terrain variety, Mount Washington is an excellent choice for families. During the evenings there are plenty of non-ski activities such as tubing and snow shoeing. Nordic skiers have lift-serviced cross country trails from the Raven Lodge at 1105m. For the park riding enthusiast, the Stomping Ground Terrain Park has had considerable investment in the last few years and has all the features of a world class freestyle zone. It is even open under floodlights for night riding until 10pm Thursday to Saturday.

You can travel to Mount Washington by flying into Comox Valley International Airport, just 40 minutes away or drive from Vancouver in as little as 3 hours 30 minutes. Travel time from Vancouver includes the ferry passage across to Nanaimo.

Mount Washington Ski Area

Mount Washington has 1,600 acres of terrain with something for every level of skier including a special learning zone for beginners, progressive trails and tree skiing for intermediates and above as well as steep powder terrain for experts and a terrain park which stays open late.

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The learning zone around the Green Chair and the Discovery Platter are the first stop for beginners and where the snow school teach their discovery lessons. For intermediates the Hawk 6pack Chair, the Whiskey Jack Chair and the Sunrise Quad provide access to progressive blue runs. The Goodtime Glades is popular with intermediates wanting to try tree skiing.

Advanced and expert skiers will prefer the Eagle Express, which quickly shuttles skiers to the summit. The west side features open bowls and steeper fall line skiing whereas the eastern face has more blue runs linking up to the base of the Sunrise Quad. From the top of the Sunrise you can access more open blue runs lined with denser trees.

The Outback, on the backside of Mount Washington and accessed via the Boomerang Chair, was opened in recent years due to a demand for steep powder terrain. The backside has over 360m of vertical with cliffs, steep chutes and pillow lines. There is additional backcountry terrain in the North Bowl area, accessible by hiking but skiers should exercise backcountry precautions with the appropriate equipment, skills and guidance.

The Stomping Ground terrain park has everything for the park riders and it's even open late! Thursdays to Saturdays have night skiing on the Whiskey Jack Chair lift which accesses Stomping Ground and the Green Chair services the Easy Rider beginner park.

Mount Washington Ski Lifts & Lift Passes

Mount Washington has just eight ski lifts including two high-speed chairlifts. For busy periods the Hawk Six pack chair helps alleviate lift lines for the initial upload. The Mount Washington ski lift system capacity is over 12,200 riders per hour.

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Mount Washington Ski Lifts

The Green Chair and Discovery platter lift service the learning zones on the lower mountain. The Discovery Platter lift also provides access to the Alpine Lodge where the base of the Eagle Express and Whiskey Jack Chair are located. For those wishing to bypass the Hawk Six Pack from the bottom they can ride the Discovery Platter back up to the main base.

The Sunrise Chair sits on the Eastern flank of the mountain and requires an initial upload on either the Eagle or Whiskey Jack in order to traverse out. For those looking for the fastest access to the Outback, a short traverse along Sunset from the top of the Hawk Six Pack will get you to the loading point for the Boomerang Chair.

Mount Washington Ski Lift Passes

Full day passes for adults include night skiing until 10pm and there are discounted rates for teenagers, seniors and children. Night skiing only passes are available at a reduced rate for skiers wanting to start at 7pm. All ski lift tickets are transferable and can be shared among friends or family. Early bird rates apply for lift pass tickets bought pre season.

Mount Washington Beginner Skiing

First time skiers have all that they need at Mount Washington.

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Starting on the Discovery Platter lift and the handle tow, the next step up is to the Green Chair. When confidence has built up, the next step is to ride the Hawk Chair where there is a set of green runs (Sunset, Westerly and Reverse Traverse) that will provide skiing mileage without progressing too quickly. Off Reverse Traverse you can decide whether you are ready for the blue run Exhibition.

If you are determined to make the most of your time on the slopes, the entire Green Chair and Discovery areas are open for night skiing, where you are able to book a ski lesson as late as 5pm on Thursdays to Saturdays.

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Mount Washington Intermediate Skiing

Intermediate skiers looking to progress beyond Mount Washington’s green runs can do so safely from the top of the Hawk chair.

Skiing along the green Reverse Traverse you can look down onto the blue ski runs (such as Parkview, Riptide and Exhibition) before committing to descending down them. If you are confident on blue runs the Sunrise Chair offers a selection of enjoyable runs such as Invitation, Fantastic and Rainbow. The Sunrise chair is off to the eastern edge of the resort and subsequently has shorter lift lines.

You don't need to be an advanced skier to get to where the best views are either. The summit at the top of the Eagle Express has a set of blue runs descending off to the eastern side. This is also where the longest ski run of the resort sits, the 1.9km Linton's Loop.

For intermediates looking to try a hand at tree skiing, the recent addition of the Goodtime Glades offers a great introduction to gladed skiing without exposing the skier to steep slopes or tight spaces. Night skiing is also suited for intermediates as the blue run Coaster is fully illuminated for the evening.

Mount Washington Advanced & Expert Skiing

Advanced and expert skiers in Mount Washington will no doubt want to head straight to the Eagle Express where they can descend steeper runs such as West Basin, Powder Face and Chimney.

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To get a healthy dose of vertical its best to keep descending on the fall line until you hit Reverse Traverse which will take you back to the base of the Eagle. The east side of the Eagle has enjoyable black runs such as East Bull, Whiskey Jack Glades and Park Glades.

For the off piste skiers looking for Mount Washington's wild side, look no further than The Outback. Accessed via the Boomerang Chair (the namesake is because it loads skiers in both directions) this former backcountry ski zone now has lift service. Double black descents such as Thunderdome, Billabong and Copper all have sections of thick trees that can either be skied through or around. Chutes, cliffs, pillow lines; the Outback has the signature of a big mountain resort in British Columbia. The McKay and Copper Glades both have permanently closed areas that have been designated as unfit for skiing.

You can also cross over to the 'backside' from the summit or from King George by ducking the boundary rope. The North Bowl is beyond the ski resort's boundary on the backside and offers exposed big mountain skiing. The other side of the rope is unpatrolled backcountry terrain and everyone skiing in this area should be equipped for self-rescue.

Mount Washington Boarding & Freestyle

Mount Washington mountain can be ridden with minimal traversing making it just as suitable for snowboarding as skiing. The boundary backcountry may need traversing in order to return to the resort’s lifts, but these areas are few in number.

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For freestylers the Stomping Ground Terrain Park has all the features of a world class freestyle zone and is regarded as one of the top parks in British Columbia. All types of rails, boxes jibs and other man made features compliment the progressive sets of jumps. The Easy Rider terrain park offers a toned down version for those wanting to safely enter the world of new school freestyle skiing.

An attraction for the park riders is that the Thursday to Saturday night skiing includes the lifts that service the terrain parks. While avid skiers may not get much out of lapping blue runs for an evening, park riders can keep lapping until 10pm with all features at their disposal.

Mount Washington Off-Piste

The summit of Mount Washington sits at 1,588m which is at tree line elevation so there are not many options for high alpine skiing in the resort or anywhere on the front side of the mountain.

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Where backcountry skiers can get their fix is in the North Bowl. By crossing over the ridge on King George you will come face to face with the cliff area of the bowl. The safer option is to traverse in or hike up the ridge from Thunderdome.  The trees below North Bowl start to get quite tight and the open chutes are obvious avalanche paths, so after skiing the North Bowl it's a good idea to head back towards the resort boundary.

There is also the option to duck the rope and traverse out from Copper. While it may be tempting to keep traversing further and further out for fresh tracks, people need to keep in mind that they need to make it back to the base of the Boomerang at 1128m. On certain aspects the base of the chair may not be visible but McKay Lake provides a suitable landmark.

Wandering blindly past boundary ropes is not recommended without a guide as it is easy to get disoriented in the myriad of tight trees.

Mount Washington Mountain Restaurants

Almost all of Mount Washington’s on-mountain restaurants are situated in the Alpine Lodge at the base of the Eagle Express where you’ll find a choice of restaurants and a variety of cuisine including Japanese sushi and seafood as well as traditional North American dishes.

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Fat Teddy's has the traditional North American menu with tasty sides of soups and salads. There is also a selection of sandwiches and Mexican cuisine. Fireweeds Family Restaurant has a similar menu for lunch and switches to a dinner menu complete with steaks, ribs and a pizza and pasta selection. Fireweeds open their doors early for breakfast on weekends and holidays. Alpine Sushi is upstairs in the lodge selling pre made Japanese dishes.

The Raven Lodge has food for the Nordic skiers with a traditional mountain lodge menu for lunch (burgers, wraps chilli etc) with a special fondue dinner for snow shoe tours. Starting at 5pm on Fridays and Saturdays the fondue includes the Swiss cheese, meat and seafood as well as chocolate fondue dessert.

Sushi Mon at the base of the Hawk chair offers sushi made to order as well as hot bowls of Ramen noodle soup.

Mount Washington Village

The Mount Washington Alpine Village (1,110m) has over 600 units with over 4000 beds to accommodate visitors year round. The residential area of the village stretches from the base of the Hawk Chair up to the Alpine Lodge, where majority of public car parking is available.

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The Alpine Lodge has all the amenities for day skiers including dining, shopping, rentals, ticket sales and snow school.

Mountain Tek is the in-house store for ski tuning and high performance rentals and sales. For self catering visitors the General Store stocks grocery items and is Mount Washington's only cold beer and wine store.

The Raven Lodge at the end of Nordic Road has its own parking facilities letting you drive right up to the lodge. All Nordic rentals and snowshoe tours operate out of the Raven Lodge directly.

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Mount Washington Bars & Restaurants

Apres ski in Mount Washington Alpine Resort revolves around Fat Teddy’s Bar & Grill, but there are more bars and restaurants in the Courtenay and Comox Valley area nearby.

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Mount Washington Apres-Ski Bars

About the only available venue for après ski in the resort is Fat Teddy's Bar & Grill, serving all manner of drinks and a North American style menu. Fat Teddy's also serves as the resort's venue for live music and other scheduled events.

If you are staying in Comox Valley there are plenty of pubs and bars where you can continue your après ski experience. The Blackfin Pub backs onto the marina with waterfront views. The Avenue Bistro is a fine dining venue with a lounge to enjoy its variety of beers, wines and cocktails.

Mount Washington Restaurants

There's plenty of choice for all palates in the Mount Washington and in the Courtenay and Comox Valley area nearby.

Fat Teddy's Bar and Grill is Mount Washington's most popular venue and features a North American menu with tasty sides of soups and salads. There is also a selection of sandwiches and Mexican cuisine.

Fireweeds Family Restaurant has a similar menu for lunch and switches to a dinner menu complete with steaks, ribs and a pizza and pasta selection. Fireweeds open their doors early for breakfast on weekends and holidays.

The Raven Lodge has food for the Nordic skiers with a traditional mountain lodge menu for lunch (burgers, wraps chilli etc) with a special fondue dinner for snow shoe tours. Starting at 5pm on Fridays and Saturdays the fondue includes the Swiss cheese, meat and seafood as well as chocolate fondue dessert.

Over in Courtenay and Comox Valley, 15 minutes away by car, there's a much larger selection of restaurants and bars. For fine dining check out the Avenue Bistro with its attractive lounge or the Silverado Steak House at the Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community.

If you are in downtown Courtenay the Atlas Cafe offers amazing breakfasts as well as lunch and dinner specials. For Asian cuisine don't miss the Great Escape with its modern Indian menu or the Dragon Garden Restaurant for Chinese.

Other Activities

There are a number of after hours activities in Mt Washington, the biggest being more skiing! Night skiing operates Thursday to Saturdays from 3pm to 10pm with flood lit runs on the Green, Discovery and Whiskey Jack lifts. Park riders will love that both the Easy Rider and Stomping Ground terrain parks are also fully open for night use.

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The Ozone Snow Tubing Park is a great alternative for families and children looking for a fun and easy evening of entertainment. Its open daily from 1pm until 9pm and from 11am until 10pm on weekends and holidays.

The Raven Lodge is a training site for international cross country and biathlon teams and Nordic skiers will enjoy the world class trails and facilities. The Nordic trails are open until 8pm during Night Skiing evenings (Thurs-Sat) and until 4pm other days. The Raven Lodge is also the base for snowshoe tours. The Snowshoe and Fondue Dinner package is available on Friday and Saturdays only, departing at 5pm.

For the shoppers there are few stores on the mountain. Altitude Sports and Gifts have all clothing and accessory needs covered as well as a great selection of memorabilia. They also have Canada Post outlet for those needing to send mail or packages. Mtn Tek has all the latest ski and snowboard equipment for sale and demo rental as well as ski tuning facilities. The Raven Lodge has a retail section specializing in all cross country skiing equipment.

Mt Washington has a reputation as a summer destination resort as well. Hiking and camping is a popular in the nearby Strathcona Provincial Park. Some chairlifts are also open for those looking to explore the summit without the serious hike. Mt Washington also has a world class mountain bike park which is open during the summer months.

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