EDITORIAL: Stirring the coals of Tow #4

      1 Comment on EDITORIAL: Stirring the coals of Tow #4

By Chris Marchand

There was a moment in Dryden Mayor Greg Wilson’s speech at the Dryden Business Excellence Awards that snapped me to full attentive engagement from my usual posture of aloof detachment.

Bonny Skene told me later on that she too had experienced the same thing upon hearing the subject matter turn to the Dryden Ski Club.

Wilson brought up a conversation that is so mired in frustration that it is rarely had anymore — that of Dryden Ski Club’s struggles to re-certify its #4 rope-tow for operation.

Many years, not to mention tens of thousands of dollars spent by the club on this problem, seems to have only scratched the surface of the bureaucratic obstacles seemingly erected for the purpose of eradicating the use of rope tows in Canada.

While it’s admittedly an archaic lift design by modern standards, you’d be hard pressed to find a more efficient system for a small hill like ours.

I stopped reporting on the ‘Senior Saga’ after a few years because it felt as though I was placing an undue amount of pressure on a group of volunteers who already had enough problems without me making their lives dificult.

Also, as a club member, I became acutely aware of my inability to dedicate even a fraction of the time given by some of the club families to the organization, some of whom make it a way of life. There were indeed times in my life when sliding down mountains played a guiding role — something I owe in part to that #4 tow.

So many years have passed since the bullwheel has turned on Senior and in the eyes of rare birds like Chris Hupfauer and Nick Ford there’s the loneliness of more than one lost generation of young athletes who may never see the point in making a life of adventure out of skills honed right here — like many others who heeded the call before them.

The operational status of the #4 lift is the difference between an environment that can challenge and inspire, or merely providing a babysitting service — the perfect excuse to just buy the kid a pass instead of joining them for a day on the hill.

At first I thought Wilson’s inclusion of the issue in a speech for the business community was a bit of a non-sequitor. Yet, consider how emblematic the issue is for Dryden’s ever-shrinking ability to provide the same experiences and options to our youth that lifelong residents have enjoyed through our lives.

We see this happening with our restaurants, our movie theatres and other quality of life amenities that we now must seek elsewhere.

We might not be able to keep everything as our community changes, but is this one of those opportunities where we can rage against the dying of the light? Or is there anybody left who remembers how great it used to be?
Seriously though, with Dryden Ski Club season passes ranging from $99 (under 18, 60+) to $149 for the rest (until Dec. 1) you should probably just buy a pass anyway.

1 comment on “EDITORIAL: Stirring the coals of Tow #4

  1. Jacquie Saville

    I remember skiing at the hill at the very beginning, in 1956. We skied in from the main road, about a mile, crossing the creek. We had one rope tow, a small shed with a wood heater. So small you couldn’t stand up. Got on the tow at the bottom of the hill and could get off half way by dropping the rope and quickly moving to the left. At the top we let go as the rope rose away to the top pulley. Ski jackets had a dark rub mark under the right arm. Mittens were likewise blackened. We would arrive at the hill around ten a.m. And ski back out about four. Our toes were often frost bitten. Not long after the hill was built, Per Berg-Johannsen and a couple of others built a ski jump and the hill to the right. Initially, Per and Roy Wilson spent many hours searching for an appropriate hill near Dryden. With the help of a group of other enthusiasts and the Dryden Paper Company, the hill became a realty.
    The hill was packed after a snowfall by all skiers tramping sideways up and then down the hill.

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