Written on August 12, 2011 at 8:04 am, by Scott
ROGERS RIDGE: 1973
A story by David Boulding
On the northeastern edge of Buttle Lake and connected to Strathcona Park by a snow bridge to Mt. Adrian, lying north/south, is Rogers Ridge. Over a mile high with a large bowl leading to a small lake and with several terraces of bluffs and trees, Rogers Ridge was Jim’s idea of a ski hill. It was shaped like the top of Whistler with steep sides and rolling hills on top, and had the best 360- degree view on Vancouver Island. His plan was to use the income from the Rogers Ridge Ski Hill to fund the concept of the rural resource village at the Lodge. He also wanted a ski hill that was integrated into a complete outdoor education program and resort development, not just a ski destination.
To explore developing the hill, Jim, for several trips, would rent a heli-copter and fill it with friends, staff, and any luminaries he could find and go skiing on a gorgeous day. It was only ten minutes away from the Lodge. The powder was always deep. The skiing was great, and the price was only 50 bucks. There was a catch! Although no one figured it out until the end of the day, people were encouraged to ski ‘all the way out’ to the highway.
For Dr. John Ross, Irene Ross, Frank Stapley, Charley McFarlane, Tom Feeley, Bruce Baikie, and Bill Goggless, it was a trip they would never forget. The snow was deep; the hill had steep bluffs and huge first growth firs (later logged by TimberWest). The last 2000 feet to the highway overtaxed their abilities. Thirty five years later, John Ross said affectionately, “that Jimmy… a bit of a madman… I loved the guy, but that ski out nearly killed us all!”
Jim had asked everyone he could persuade to ski out to the highway so he could get a good map of the mountain and a sense of how the hill could be developed. He wanted to know where to make the ski trails in the future. The Ross expedition proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that future groups skiing down had to keep veering right and stay out of the creek/gulley that ONLY APPEARED TO LEAD TO THE HIGHWAY. This group of Campbell River adventurers established that the bluffs at about 2000 feet to 1000 feet above the highway were not skiable. It took other trips to find the correct route to the highway.