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15 June 2017

Climate Change Forces Closure of Whistler Glacier Summer Camp

Every summer for the past 28 years, Whistler Blackcomb’s glacier has been transformed by the arrival of the ‘Camp of Champions’, an extensive snowsports camp which operates throughout June and July. However, those planning on visiting the terrain park this year will be sorely disappointed as the camp has been forced to close due to insufficient levels of snow. Organisers attribute the lacking snowpack to the ongoing effects of climate change.

Img: Camp of Champions/Nik Herenga
The organisers were first alerted to the issues faced by the glacier in an email from a Whistler Blackcomb official on May 31st, which read as follows:

“It may look like there is plenty of snow to use on the glacier but in reality this season’s snow pack is not very dense and is full of air. When this snow gets moved and the air escapes it makes for much less snow than meets the eye. Keeping snow on the glacier will prevent melt, therefore regulating jump size is very important.”

This was not exactly the email that Camp of Champions’ Owner/Founder Ken Achenbach was hoping to receive as he began to make preparations for the 2017 camp and terrain park. In a notice posted to the camp’s official website, he apologised to disappointed fans and families for letting them down as he broke the news with the following statement:

“Once I received this email, I knew that we weren’t going to have enough snow to build the park we’ve been promising everyone all winter.

“As we can’t build the park I promised you, a park that would make your investment of time and money feel like it was well spent, I refuse to let you fly and drive from all over the world to ride a park that wouldn’t even be worth driving from Vancouver for.”

He also offered some explanation as to why it was not considered feasible to reopen the park this year:

“This year’s snow pack is less dense than usual because we enjoyed such a long cold winter. We didn’t get the wet cement spring snow that builds the snow pack we count on. During the snow drought years of 2014 and 2015 we started with more snow than we have now and barely made it through two weeks. For 2017, there isn’t enough snow to build intermediate or expert sized jumps. A huge portion of our campers are intermediate / expert level riders, and a park without those features will leave them unsatisfied. It wouldn’t have lasted to the end of the camp season either.

“Simply put, it’s the effects of global warming. I wanted to give you an exceptional experience, and now I can’t. I haven’t slept in a week. After 28 years my dream is over.”

All-in-all this is pretty disappointing news for winter sports enthusiasts, as opportunities to engage in their beloved sports are not as common throughout the summer months, and Camp of Champions excelled in the provision of such a setting.

So as not to further hinder those who had booked themselves a place at the 2017 Camp of Champions, Mr Achenbach has chosen to take what he describes as “the only honourable option”, declaring the bankruptcy of CoC so as to ensure that everybody receives a full refund.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.