Intrawest’s half-billion-dollar investment will make a dream come true for this venerable Canadian resort. In 1935, members of the Blue Mountain Ski Club would hike to the peak of Blue Mountain and plunge down rudimentary trails mined with stumps, boulders and ravines. Ten years later, its humble beginnings were greatly enhanced by Jozo Weider, a young Czech immigrant hired by the Toronto Ski Club. Weider put a sign outside the Blue Mountain lodge that read: “Four Instructors: Lessons All Day. He also built a new lodge that could accommodate 38 guests; delivered and cleared a decent trail system; and got the Red Devil—a nine-passenger sleigh pulled by a ropetow—to operate dependably.
But Weider’s vision was far grander than his initial accomplishments. His ultimate goal was to build a complete ski village. He started the process by procuring a 999-year lease on Blue Mountain from the Toronto and Blue Mountain ski clubs. Thus, he transformed the area from a private ski facility to a public one. Unfortunately, Weider didn’t live to see his vision fully realized, but his family carried the torch, developing Blue Mountain into the sixth most-visited ski resort in Canada—even without a real ski village.
The skiing at Blue carries its own weight, but the resort has one other priceless asset: its location. It sits in the middle of one of the most gorgeous landscapes in North America, overlooking pristine forests and the Georgian Bay. The top of the ski area rests on a two-mile-wide section of the 45-mile Niagara Escarpment. “We like to say that Blue is as wide as Whistler is tall, is a common saying at Blue. Each of its 42 trails is a rivulet—an isolated trail, spilling 720 feet to the valley floor.
Blue’s trail system is broken into five distinct pods, each with its own high-speed six-pack augmented by eight additional lifts spread across the mountain. The South Base features the bulk of the novice terrain and houses the resort’s childcare centre. One notch north is the Village Base, scored with intermediate terrain and anchored by the Grand Georgian and Weider Lodges. The Grand Georgian recalls the grandeur of old Canadian railroad hotels, while the Weider Lodge resembles a rugged alpine lodge. A must-see in this quarter is Memory Lane, a trail hosting a garden of copper and marble daisies, each honoring a significant person in Blue’s history. Farther north is the Inn Base with the tradition-rich Blue Mountain Inn and Jozo’s Bar (the original saloon) at the bottom. Adventurers in this area can suck up the bumps on Mogul Alley or hit the features at Badlands Terrain Park. The hardcores will move farther north to the North Base—the original section of Blue—which contains nine expert runs.
Whether or not the bay delivers, Blue’s 364 skiable acres boast groomed corduroy thanks to Blue’s industry-leading snowmaking system. With a 12,000 gallon per minute (GPM) snowmaking capacity, the expert snowmaking team at Blue can have the hill ready for skiing and riding within a few days with cold temperatures.
One of the best aspects of Blue is that—as in Weider’s days—the ski school is at the heart of the operation. Nowadays, the fleet of instructors has grown from four to nearly 300. Still, the mission remains the same: “to make every skier—whether here for a day or a week—feel like part of our family, says VP, Resort Services, Chris Lewis. To that end, the Blue school includes a menu of choices, including adventure camp for kids, race clinics, women-specific programs and packages for families. The best thing about Blue is that even with all the great skiing and new developments, the resort has stayed true to its roots. It’s just a few more steps closer to fulfilling Weider’s dream.