Mount Cain

To Find Balance: Among the Old Growth at Mount Cain

One of my first memories is of Mount Cain Alpine Park. I was a wobbly 3-year-old walking around the lot in an ’80s vintage onesie. My tired mom followed me as I dusted powder off the cars and broke tiny icicles from tire wells. I didn’t care much about snowboarding when Cain was my home mountain, but it was undoubtedly where I fell in love with the mountains. That love led me to becoming a competitive snowboarder, which, in turn, brought me around the world. Flash forward nearly 30 years from my onesie-wearing days and I’ve made a yearly trek to Cain a mandatory part of my winters. Last season I did so with a crew of visitors with the goal of showing them Vancouver Island, BC’s best powder. We were met with the welcoming throwback vibes of this tiny community-run hill, as well as the increasingly complicated environmental circumstances it finds itself in.

Located at the northern end of expansive Vancouver Island with no major communities in sight, Cain is essentially in the middle of nowhere. The resort was founded by a handful of dedicated locals, led by forester Julius Kapitany, in search of the perfect area for a ski hill. By the 1970s a ski club was formed and a loaner rope tow was installed in the West Bowl. By 1980 the first T-bar arrived along with the nonprofit Mount Cain Alpine Society. Not a lot has changed since then. The hill is run by the eccentric and wonderful people that make up its tight-knit community. It’s only open on weekends and holidays. Cain is a labor of love in every way, one that’s kept alive year after year by a cast of colorful characters…

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