Stay Safe out There

Greetings members of WWHSTA,

The Board of WWHSTA wishes you and your loved ones a happy holiday. 2020 continues to be a year full of surprises. The Board of WWHSTA has been in awe of the support this brand-new organization has received. We’ve been accepting members for just three weeks and we are already at more than fifty paying members and almost 200 followers on Facebook. Thank you for joining us on this adventure. We are excited about growing the sport of ski touring in the highlands!

Of course, yesterday’s announcement from the Ontario government regarding restrictions due to the public health emergency in our province is sobering and important. There are a few key issues the leadership of WWHSTA would like to address. First, this public health emergency is real and that it is the job of every Ontarian to do what they can to stay safe and healthy. The guidelines published by the province yesterday ask Ontarians to stay home, unless for essential purposes. We want to remind our members that the province-wide shutdown is not what we were hoping for to start our ski season, but it is the work of our time to do our part to protect ourselves, our communities and our health care system. Keep in mind this is a temporary shut-down until January 23rd. We are still building our snowpack up here and there will still be lots of great skiing to be had after January 23rd.

Secondly, once we are out of lockdown and it is safe to leave home for non-essential reasons, we ask simply that everyone be careful. Don’t push it out there. Our system of health and safety supports are stretched thin at the moment. Please follow all public health guidelines; for example never gather in groups of more than ten people and always practice social distancing. Washroom and refuse facilities are not as available as they usually are, so please pack out what you pack in. As always, recreate responsibly:

  • Know before you go
  • Practice physical distancing
  • Plan ahead
  • Play it safe
  • Explore locally
  • Leave no Trace
  • Build an inclusive outdoors

Finally, please help to continue to spread the word about WWHSTA. Invite your friends to like us on Facebook. Memberships and “likes” help to give us leverage when we talk to government and land owners about our sport. They are critical to our success. If you haven’t yet, order yourself and encourage your friends to order, packages of amazing films from Algonquin Outfitters is sharing the proceeds from their presentation of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour (virtual edition) with WWHSTA and the Huntsville Mountain Bike Association. Talk about a win-win! Awesome adventure films for you and $$$ for WWHSTA and HMBA!

Let’s get through this province-wide shutdown and get some good skiing in once it is advisable to do so.

Stay safe out there.

Jeff Mann (WWHSTA President)
Jeff “LeChef” Edwards (Vice-President, Director Operations)
Annie Scherz (Director Membership)
Gord Baker (Secretary)
Scott Turnbull (Treasurer)

Welcome to the West Wind Highlands

Welcome to the West Wind Highlands.  There is a sliver of central Ontario where magic happens every winter. It might be freezing, sunny and breezy in Toronto or North Bay, but in the hills to the west of Algonquin Park, snow squalls are forming.  Cold, dry winter winds sponge up moisture over the warm, open waters of Lake Huron.  When that moisture-laden air hits the uplifting slope of the West Wind Highlands, snow falls with abundance.  The hills themselves are too steep for effective logging, hard to build roads into and difficult to navigate for many. This has left them quietly free of people and, once they receive their winter coat of snow, perfect for skiing.

WWHSTA was founded in the year of hindsight, 2020, by a group of people who’ve been quietly enjoying this powder buffet for decades.  It could seem a strange thing, to want to share this bounty with others.  However, sharing is exactly what these highlands need.  To ski in the quiet woods on a gorgeous, still winter day with a handful of good people is a wonderful feeling.  Human-powered travel over snow has virtually no impact on the land; one literally floats over it.  Ski touring requires that skiers take what nature gives them: there is no grooming or preparation of trails, so the conditions are not always the same.  They simply are what they are.  The skier has to adapt and choose the appropriate trail, slope or challenge to suit the day, and there are no bad days!  When people come to appreciate the gifts of such an experience they want to help ensure it’s available for others, particularly future generations.

By joining or supporting West Wind Highlands Ski Touring Association you are helping to give a voice to those who love wintertime human-powered exploration.  At WWHSTA, we strive to make excellent skiing options available, in a way that respects and protects the environment.  We educate skiers, helping them grow their knowledge and skills.  We protect our members with insurance.  We grow connections between people and organizations, allowing both to grow stronger and more engaged.  We explore and open up new areas to enjoy our sport, with responsible partnerships and land-use agreements.