Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mount Washington Avalance Training

Avalanche Awareness Day Timely

Image: A Mount Washington Patroller examines some terrain off the backside of the mountain.
Photo Credit: Mount Washington Alpine Resort

In light of recent events in the BC backcountry and closer to home at Strathcona Provincial Park, the timing of Avalanche Awareness Day on Mount Washington couldn't be better.

The one day event takes place this Sunday, January 20th from 11am to 2pm and features demos designed to educate and promote snow safety for those interested in mountain travel.

“We've been running our Avalanche Awareness Days for a number of years now in partnership with the Canadian Avalanche Association,” explains resort spokesperson Brent Curtain. “And in light of what we've seen lately in the headlines, we hope to see increased interest from skiers and boarders looking to learn more about how to do these activities safely.”

Mount Washington's Avalanche Awareness Day will offer a variety of demos designed to introduce attendees to everything from technical backcountry gear to digging and analyzing snow pits. A beacon race will add an element of fun to the event and give bragging rights to the fastest person using a transceiver.

“If there's one key point we need to get across to any new backcountry user on Vancouver Island- it's the fact that avalanches do happen here,” says Mount Washington Patrol Director Jesse Percival. “We perform daily assessments of snow stability and hazard and when it's required we will perform control techniques that include ski cutting and explosive deployment.”

That happens within the resort but Percival warns about the potential dangers facing backcountry users.

“Once you head into the backcountry there are no safeguards in place. Good judgment, training and knowledge are essential for those considering backcountry travel. Plus you should never head out alone.”

On Mount Washington, steeper terrain in the popular Outback and West Basin areas are part of the regular curriculum of avalanche control work. Mount Washington's Pro Patrol employ trained Avalanche Forecasters and Technicians to perform control work on the mountain. These Avy Techs are frequently used by Comox Valley Search and Rescue to assist in backcountry rescue.

Mount Washington Avalanche Forecaster Bill Phipps volunteered his time in the recent rescue last week in Strathcona Provincial Park. “Having trained forecasters and technicians are essential in operating a mountain like Mount Washington,” says Percival. “They assess and control the avalanche hazard within the resort and frequently support rescue efforts in the surrounding area.”

In the backcountry and beyond the patrolled boundaries of the Resort, the slopes are not controlled and this is where the greater risks exist for skiers and boarders. “You need the proper training and tools to perform self-rescue when venturing into uncontrolled terrain,” adds Percival.

In addition to the demos, a silent auction will run on Sunday and offer guests a chance to bid on various items used for enjoying your time on snow. Grab some extra cash and bid on some items as all proceeds will go to the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA). The CAA uses the money to continue providing snow safety educational programs and maintenance of various avalanche bulletins for all regions of the province through the Canadian Avalanche Centre.

To sign up for the demos or to bid on the silent auction items, visit the tents on the flats in front of Mtn Tek on Sunday. All clinics will be held in the Beacon Basin on the Whiskey Jack flats, which is a short walk from the Alpine Lodge. For more information on the Avy Awareness Day, visit the events calendar online at

Mount Washington is located 30 minutes above The Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. WestJet, Central Mountain Air, and Pacific Coastal Airlines service the Comox Valley Airport (YQQ). To find out about accommodation and package information, call Mount Washington Alpine Resort at 1-888-231-1499 toll free or locally at 250-338-1386. Surf to for additional information including live webcams.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The London Chef - A Unique Victoria Experience

                                     The London Chef at work.

We recently had the pleasure of a tour of London Chef, a Victoria business operated by Micayla and Dan Hayes for the last two years.  Primarily a catering business serving Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands,  Micayla manages the business and Dan is the chef.  The store front at 953 Fort Street houses a Café & Pantry next to a show piece Cooking Class Room, equipped for the diverse cooking classes they offer.  Their 600 year old, Douglas Fir table seats 18 for class dinners and private functions. 

Both Micayla and Dan are extroverts who obviously love what they do.  Dan is a passionate and entertaining chef.  Based on our mini-class, Dan’s must be a blast!  He even passed out trivia prizes. Micayla operates a successful business in a tight local market.  They and their staff did an excellent job of making us welcome.

Dan prepared a delicious seafood dinner, starting with Southern Provencal fish soup with croutons and freshly made roasted red pepper rouille.  The soup was followed by Risotto Nero with squid.  This unique dish uses squid ink to turn the rice black and add a distinctive Mediterranean flavour.  Dan turned the presentation into a cooking lesson with lots of great tips and funny personal anecdotes.  He showed us how to easily peel garlic and explained why risotto rice should be stirred in just one direction to develop the starch, how to fillet a squid, and why saffron is sooo expensive.  We now know that many culinary herbs grow wild on Vancouver Island.  It truly was an entertaining evening.  In addition to catering and the café, they offer cooking classes for kids (age 4 to 10), kid's birthday parties, adult cooking classes, private dining events, corporate events, and private cocktail parties.  Check their website at for details. For more pictures, please go to our Facebook Page.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sidney by the Sea is just 25 minutes north of Victoria  BC.  It is a beautiful community with much to do and see.  There are some great places to eat and many attractions in Sidney and in the surrounding community.  You are only minutes away from Butchart Gardens and Butterfly World and a whole lot more.  The waterfront is spectacular and on clear days you can see Mount Baker in Washington State.  Must sees are the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, the Sidney Bakery, the bookstores (and there are many), the fishing pier, glass beach, the wharf/dock, the marina, and the great walks along the waterfront.  Enjoy.  For more pictures visit our Facebook site. Above photos are the wharf and the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Below are photos from beautiful Quadra Island which is a 15 minute ferry ride from Campbell River. The Island is beautiful and should not be missed on you travels around Vancouver Island. If you plan to stay, book your accommodations ahead of time. There are tremendous views of Campbell River and the mountains behind Campbell River across Discovery channel. Enjoy. For more photos, please visit our Facebook Page.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Beautiful Day For the Birds

Today we enjoyed the sun and the birds at Esquimlt Lagoon.  This is a great way to spend a warm sunny winter afternoon.  Enjoy