President’s Message – After nearly two years . . .

January 19, 2022

Dear HPSC Friends,

It has been a long haul to finally get to this point.  We are very happy that this past weekend, after nearly two years, the HPSC Snow School was finally able to again provide lessons to our members. And despite the cold on Saturday at MSLM I understand that most who participated were very happy to be back.  I personally was excited to reconnect with a number of our members at Blue Mountain on Sunday.  As a reminder, lesson registration opens up on the Friday one week prior to the trips. 

While we are all disappointed that we are not able to run buses just yet, we are closely following the public health guidelines and will start bus trips as soon as it is feasible. 

I personally want to thank all of our club volunteers who help make the club run. Please remember that we are a fully volunteer run club and without the time and passion put in by your fellow members we would not be able to function. Much like all of you, we have been frustrated by the ongoing pandemic.  And although we have not been able to function as we would have liked, the amount of work that has been put into planning has far exceeded what would be required during a regular season.

One thing that the pandemic has shown is that many people in the GTA are tired of being stuck inside and have a strong desire to get outside and enjoy the winter.  The snowstorm/blizzard on Monday provided the opportunity for many of our members to do something that has been virtually unheard of in Toronto in a long long time, the ability to do some urban skiing and snowshoeing.  I personally snowshoed down to my local Starbucks on Monday, while a number of other members posted photos of their urban snow sport adventures in the HPSC Facebook group.  And with the exception of a very short warm up, the forecast for the next two weeks in favourable to keeping most of this new snow in the city. Enjoy it! 

Cheers!

Justin Graham

President, High Park Ski Club

President’s Message – Deju Vu All Over Again!

January 5, 2022

Dear HPSC Members

To quote the famous New York Yankee Yogi Berra – “It’s deju vu all over again!” 

Last season we had to make the tough decision to cancel all daytrips and bus trips. This year, we were very optimistic that we would be able run a close to normal season – but then . . . . OMICRON!!!

The biggest difference this season, compared to last, is that the provincial government has not shut down Ontario downhill ski resorts.  This means that we can still provide lessons and run drive-up only trips beginning on January 15th (signup open this coming Saturday).  Cross-country trips are bus dependent and will only run when we start to run buses. 

To make this clear: We have NOT cancelled running buses for the rest of the season.  We will re-evaluate buses on a regular basis and will start bus trips as soon as we can. 

We understand that there has been a bit of information overload regarding the upcoming season – but we are attempting to keep members informed of changes as they happen.  As you can guess, this season has had a lot of changes requiring us to be very flexible.    

I want to wish all of you a very happy New Year!  And hope we can all soon get out on the hills and trails to enjoy the sports that we love!

Please stay safe.

Justin Graham

President, High Park Ski Club

So you are vaccinated . . . now what?

As announced earlier in the summer, the HPSC Board made the decision that to protect the health of other club members and volunteers, in order to participate in most in-person club events this season you will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID.  

The first step will be to attest to your vaccination status on your member profile page, at the same time you acknowledge the Code of Conduct, Waiver, and Rowan’s law declaration after September 1st when membership renewal occurs.  Any falsification of vaccination status will be considered as a breach of the HPSC Code of Conduct and will be subject to disciplinary review

However, without confirmation of vaccination status the Long Trips Committee will not be able to arrange roommates or run close to full buses, that allow us to control the costs of trips. Or allow other portfolios to ensure only those fully vaccinated are participating in events. 

Therefore, as a second step at some point during the fall, we are asking that members provide our membership team with proof of your vaccination status (i.e. 2nd shot vaccination certificate or federal vaccination passport announced last week) by emailing it to vac@hpsc.ca.  Only those on the membership team will have access to these emails and once they confirm your status by reviewing your document, all of your documents and emails will be deletedThe club will not be storing your private vaccination record.

PLEASE HOLD OFF SENDING YOUR DOCUMENTATION UNTIL AFTER SEPTEMBER 1 WHEN RENEWALS OPEN. 

For those concerned about privacy, on the vaccination certificate, we only need to see the following information: Name; Date of 2nd vaccination; Agent (COVID-19); Dose – 2 of 2.  All of the rest of the information can be blacked out. 

If you feel uncomfortable in emailing your documentation, we will also be arranging for numerous in-person events (i.e. after each week’s SkiFit; other nights during the week at locations around the city) when you can show the membership team your proof, and they will note your status.  If you cannot meet in person and are concerned about emailing your documents, we can arrange for a personal Zoom call where you can show your document.  We will NOT be recording or taking screen shots.

Please note that to register for charter or long trips at our signup nights in September and October you will need to have at least attested on your member profile that you are fully vaccinated. As with all members you will also need to provide your vaccination document at some point prior during the fall. If you are not fully vaccinated by trip signup night, you will not be able to register for trips until you are (if spots are still available).  If you have not had your second shot yet and want to sign up for charter or long trips, please arrange for your second shot so as soon as possible. At that point you can update your member profile page and send in/arrange to show us your vaccination proof document.

As mentioned earlier, you do not have to send in your vaccination proof right away.  If you feel more comfortable doing so when the Federal vaccination passport becomes available that is fine.  We just need to review your document prior to your first in-person event (please allow at least 5 days for our team to review and confirm your status – we are all volunteers so it might take time to get to).  If you are signing up for a long or charter trip it should be before full payment.

For charter trips, you will likely be required to provide the newly announced federal vaccination passport to our tour company partners. As well, last week the Federal government also announced that proof of vaccination will be required for travel, including domestically, by plane, train, etc. And it makes sense to assume that long distance bus trips should also be included. 

If you CANNOT be vaccinated due to a medical condition, and can provide a doctors note to our membership team simply stating this (without any medical diagnosis information) you will be able to have limited participation in club events this year, (i.e. drive up for a day trip and participate in lessons).  However, as announced earlier you will not be able to register for any long or charter trips, or to go on the bus for daytrips.

We acknowledge that members have the free choice to not be vaccinated; however, we as the directors of the club have the duty to protect the health and safety of our club members and volunteers to the best of our ability.  Until the pandemic is declared over in Canada, the best option for protection and moving to a more ‘normal’ environment is vaccination.  If you are dissatisfied with this policy, we are truly sorry.  We can, upon request, if you choose, to defer your membership for another year or refund your membership fee (however, your club seniority would be maintained), and we will welcome you back once pandemic measure are lifted.     

Justin Graham

President, High Park Ski Club

Welcoming New Instructors to the team!  David Healey 

Check out who they are and what their favourite things to do are. Keep your eyes out as we introduce you over the next several weeks. Today we welcome David Healey…

I became an instructor because I love refining my technique, sharing my skiing discoveries, and bringing that delight to others.  I love the club because of the atmosphere.  It’s so good skiing with an unpretentious group, and I really appreciated the punctuality and experience in running group trips.

My most memorable ski memory was the first time moving up from beginner boots to advanced boots and feeling the tightness of control – it felt like it was the payoff of all the early lessons and practice.   Also the relief when taking them off after the first session.

Welcoming New Instructors to the team! Sharon Flynn

Check out who they are and what their favourite things to do are. Keep your eyes out as we introduce you over the next several weeks. Today we welcome Sharon Flynn.

I joined HPSC in 2013. I wanted to ski way more often than the rest of my family wanted to.  I took the free lessons to improve my skiing and found out that my technique needed quite a bit of work. I was self taught and who knew that going as fast as I could down the hill with minimal turning was not all there was to skiing.

The instructors were very patient and gave me drills that I could work on and I also met other skiers to ski with. I really enjoyed the weekly races at Mt St. Louis and also the buses made the longer drive to Blue Mountain much more enjoyable.  I was inspired to work towards my Level I and then my Level II by the HPSC instructors and now I am one!

I also enjoyed the bus trips to Quebec and the states and finally worked up the courage to fly to Banff on a HPSC organized trip. I do not think I would have ever made it to Lake Louise without High Park and now every year I go on at least one charter trip with the club.

High Park Ski Club will make you love winter!

Come Celebrate – Overnight Trips to Quebec in March!

Are you looking forward to great ski days this year?  March brings sunshine and longer days and is the best time to ski in Quebec! 

There is space left on our mid week trip to Mont Ste Anne and weekend trip to Mont Tremblant in March.  Our buses have been specially fitted with COVID protection including Plexiglas shields and HEPA filters.  Enjoy guided skiing with HPSC instructors and other members who ski at your level (Step 4 and above) or take the ‘no lifts’ option and enjoy a relaxing winter vacation in either of these two lovely destinations.

We know from last year’s experience that there is light at the end of the tunnel and better days are ahead.  However, if either of these trips must be cancelled by HPSC, members will receive a full 100% refund of the trip cost. Sign up now to reserve your spot on these great trips.  What a great way to celebrate the end of this challenging winter!

For more information, click on the links below:

Mont Ste Anne – Sunday March 20 to Thursday March 24, 2022 – Ski in/out, kitchenette at Chateau Mont Ste Anne with 4 days lifts, single rooms available. Click here to register.

Mont Tremblant – Friday March 25 to Sunday March 26, 2022 – Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites – choice of suite or hotel room, single rooms available. Click here to register.

The season ending Tremblant trip is always popular among new members as it is an opportunity to meet new friends and make plans together for the next season. 

Attention advanced snowboarders! We’ll have the fastest s/b instructors, like Keith on the Tremblant trip, and would love to run a group who is comfortable riding black runs. We need a minimum of 4 advanced riders to sign up to have a dedicated s/b instructor. (Cap of 6). Join and invite your friends for an amazing ride! 

Attention Snowshoe and social members! There are beautiful snowshoeing and hiking trails with magnificent views. Choose the ‘no lifts’ option when signing up. Imagine sunbathing at the best apres ski setting in Canada.

Come celebrate the end of this very challenging winter!!

What to expect during a Drive Up daytrip

Our HPSC instructors are excited to finally be able to run lessons for our members! As you prepare for  your day, here are some things to be aware of that may impact your experience.

Facilities:

Your car is your “home base”. You’ll be at your car to put your boots on, eat lunch, and warm up.

Indoor dining is unavailable. Some resorts (e.g. Blue) have some outdoor dining set up. Bring a lunch if you don’t have plans.

Washrooms are available. Indoor warming up spaces are not.

Tickets:

Members must book their lift tickets themselves separate from the drive-up registration. To ski at the private clubs, as long as you’ve sign up for the event, the club will make sure your name’s on the guest list.

The Mount St Louis check-in process may be time consuming. Give yourself an extra 20+ minutes to go through the lineups before your lesson start time.

Lift lines and chairlifts:

At the public resorts, chairlifts are generally being filled to the maximum, loading singles to fill them up.

Be forewarned that some members of the general public do not consistently wear their masks in lift lines or on chairs, and physical distancing doesn’t always happen in lift lines – and that some members have observed the resorts are not always enforcing mask-wearing.

Lessons:

HPSC Members are to wear masks in lesson groups. Instructors will run a COVID screener at the lesson start.

We will aim to keep some space between participants, but we’re also in a constantly changing environment. If you feel it’s getting crowded, pull back and give yourself space.

While we’re on the hill, if you have any safety concerns, please let the instructor know and they will accommodate as best as they can.

While we can manage our own participants, we’re still skiing with the general public who follow varying levels of safety.

General etiquette:

If you are sick, please stay home!

Please keep your mask on in the lift line, chairlift, and in lessons.

Check the resort for specific information on their policies and practices.

We’re asking everyone to be patient and kind.

Have a great day trip! We are looking forward to skiing and riding with you.

Conditions update: January 18, 2022

After that snow dump, my report is short: conditions everywhere should be very excellent! Especially for classic. Even for places closer to the city (Mono, Mansfield, Albion, which is opening Jan. 18). Temps are supposed to rise a bit Wednesday and then drop again. A few more days of grooming should consolidate the bases and make for excellent skiing for both classic and skate on the weekend.

Members have also been having lots of fun skiing and snowshoeing in the city after 30cm of snow fell. Get out and play in the snow!

Conditions update: January 12, 2022

While we can’t run buses, we know that members will be getting out on the trails themselves if they are able. Someone requested that I do a conditions update so members know where the best conditions are in a particular week. This is the first installment! I will be covering the resorts we generally visit around Barrie and Collingwood, and a couple closer to the city. This is not an exhaustive list.

Scenic Caves has the best conditions with a 30cm base. Highlands reports an 8cm base with track in, a little thin on the Back Red and Hawberry, but I expect the main trails are in great shape. Hardwood and Horseshoe have about 15cm base depths and good conditions, although they still need more snow to build up those bases. They were just able to put in a decent track this week. Wasaga is apparently open with track set and reporting good conditions, although looks like a thinner base (10cm). Closer to the city, Albion is still closed and Mono has skiable coverage, but no track. Probably decent for skating. Mansfield is open but the trails are ungroomed. You are welcome to ski on the trails if you want.

More snow overall not likely to come until next week, so conditions not likely to improve until then. Will be very cold Friday/Saturday. Be careful of those fingers and toes if you venture out Saturday am in particular.

Check back early next week for the next installment!

Before you ski, check out the conditions on the resort websites:

Hardwood

Horseshoe (tip: Horseshoe is notorious for not reporting accurately. If you want to go, check Hardwood. If Hardwood is reporting sketchy conditions, you know that Horseshoe will be worse)

Scenic Caves

Highlands

Wasaga, Arrowhead and other provincial parks

Albion Hills

Mono Nordic

Mansfield

Long Trips Committee Update – January 5th, 2022

Mount Tremblant, February 2021 Photo by JK Graham

Due to the new restrictions that are now in force in Quebec regarding individuals from different households staying together, indoor dining and other restrictions, it is with regret that we must cancel the February mid-week trip to Mont Tremblant and the Family Day trip to Orford in the Eastern Townships.  

The Long Trips committee is monitoring the situation and are optimistic that the tide will turn and restrictions will be lifted in time for our Quebec trips in March. 

If you signed up and have paid for either of the two February trips, you will receive a full trip refund from the club.  Please be patient as the refund process takes time and can only be done by a very limited number of volunteers. 

As a gesture of good faith, if you remain a member in good standing, you will be eligible for one Front of the Line (FOTL) spot if the same destination is offered by HPSC in 2023.  This FOTL will be valid until October 1, 2023 and will apply to any overnight bus trips that the club was forced to cancel. 

Charter trips are arranged by HPSC but contracted through TICO protected tour operators.  These trips can only be cancelled by the tour operator and not by HPSC.   This would only happen in the case of a “force majeure” such as a resort closure.  At that point, credits would then be offered to members booked on that trip in line with destination policies.

Kim Wiebe

Director, Long Trips

New Director of Communications

Communication Director Nemanja Davidovic, informed the board that due to increased work responsibilities he needed to resign as Director of Communications.  Long time member Suzanne de Grandpre was appointed by the board at our December meeting as the new Director of Communications to complete Nemanja’s term. 

I would personally like to thank Nemanja for all his work on the board and his assistance and help in transitioning Suzanne into the role.  And I look forward to working with Suzanne. 

To read more about Suzanne, see below:

“Having grown up in Alberta, I started skiing in Banff and Whistler during university. After a hiatus of a number of years, I moved to Toronto and wished to get back into skiing. I didn’t even know people skied in Ontario until I joined High Park Ski Club, of which I have been a continuous member since 1998. My time in the club has consisted of everything from day trips to overnight trips to Quebec and the US and, of course, the charter trips which I eagerly anticipate every year! I have made many friends and gained many fond skiing memories over the years. The excellent instruction I received from our amazing instructors has taken my skiing to new levels. It has also been a most gratifying experience giving back to the club as a volunteer, director, co-trip leader and bus captain. I am looking forward to continue serving the club as Communications Director.”