Readers from last year will remember our coverage of The Costly Callaghan, in which we detailed the ridiculously-high rates charged by Whistler Sports Legacies (WSL) to backcountry skiers using their trails to access Callaghan Provincial Park. This move was especially disappointing when the FMCBC had already consulted WSL on building ski-touring access trails. After the backcountry access trails and signage were put into place with volunteer sweat & a grant from MEC, backcountry users were slapped with unnecessarily high rates the following Fall. This year we have some good news, courtesy of FMCBC’s Scott Nelson. Though Callaghan Country is no longer playing nice, at least you can pack a carload and go ski touring for a reasonable parking fee:
Whistler Olympic Park is reducing fees for backcountry users for winter 2012/2013. Day tickets for backcountry users have been eliminated and replaced with a $10 per car parking fee. Backcountry skiers will still be permitted to use the XC trails to access backcountry destinations. Like last year, overnight parking will be available, but not in the main parking lots.
Callaghan Country has also discontinued their discounted trail ticket, but is insisting that backcountry users purchase a full price XC ticket ($22) to use any of their groomed trails. Access to Telemagique Ridge (at 3km on Callaghan FSR) and Callaghan Lake (at 8.5km on Callaghan FSR) is affected. Callaghan Country operates Friday – Tuesday through the winter.
A joint VOC/BCMC trail building trip in October 2012 made improvements on the lower portions of the Hanging Lake and Beverley Creek winter access trails. The trails were cleared to a width of 3-4m and several bridges were built over small streams. These improvements will make the trails easier to ski, especially in early and late season when snow cover is thinner.
My take on Callaghan Country here is that they’re just not going to get backcountry users paying full price to cross their terrain. Overall, both Callaghan Country and WSL appear to be forgetting that the entire area is Crown Land, and that backcountry (ski) usage not only predates their tenure, but adds significantly to its value, in the creation of backcountry trails, the spin-off benefits of cafeteria purchases at WSL and overnight stays with Callaghan Country. In this respect, it’s too bad that Callaghan Country did not work something out with WSL to share in the parking revenue, but given the past squabbles between these entities (mainly because of WSL refusing to acknowledge Callaghan Country’s own history of tenure use) it’s not surprising. Charging $22 for access is going to leave a bad taste in backcountry user’s mouths — I doubt that many will pay it — as well as negatively impacting the spending cash such users would otherwise throw down for a luxurious overnight or two in the Callaghan Country lodge itself.