Alta Lake Ice Break-up ushers in spring 

It's time to hop in the canoe and paddle the peaceful waters of Alta Lake once again.

In the early hours of Sunday, March 28, a windstorm blew in and swept the remaining ice from Alta Lake. The 45-gallon drum that had sat all winter at the south end of the lake went with it, ushering in a new winner of the historic Alta Lake Ice Break-up Raffle run by the Whistler Waldorf School. When the barrel floats past Cypress Point at night, the mid point between sunset and sunrise is used as the official time, in this case 1:17 a.m., which proved surprisingly accurate as the freak middle-of-the-night windstorm kicked up around 1 a.m.

Frank Salter guessed that the barrel would float past Cypress Point at 4:30 p.m. on March 27 which proved to be the closest guess.

"I put a lot of skill, determination and research into my guess," Salter joked, then admitted that it was more a matter of "random chance."

Salter will receive the $250 first prize and have his name inscribed on the coveted Ice Break-Up Trophy which he can proudly display on his mantle for the coming year. The historic trophy will fit right in with Salter's personal ski museum, parts of which are on display at Opa's Restaurant in Marketplace and along the entrance to the Whistler Museum.

Ron Kobelka's guess of 4 p.m. March 27 netted him the second prize of three locally-authored books: A Whistler Bear Story by Sylvia Dolson and Katherine Fawcett, Mountain Machines by Sara Leach, and Only in Whistler: Tales of a Mountain Town by Stephen Vogler.

Third prize, three pounds of Whistler Roasting Company organic coffee, went to George Menchions from Vancouver Island with a guess of 3:38 pm March 27.

The Alta Lake Ice Break-Up Raffle is one of Whistler's oldest traditions dating back to the 1950s when it was begun by the Alta Lake Community Club to raise money for the valley's first Volunteer Fire Department. Florence Petersen, founder of the Whistler Museum and Archives, was the first winner of the contest, which involves guessing when a barrel placed on the southern end of the frozen lake will find free water and float past Cypress Point, site of the Whister Youth Hostel. Started up again in 2002 by local writer and Alta Lake Road resident Stephen Vogler after a 20-year hiatus, the Ice Break raffle is now a fund raiser for the Whistler Waldorf School, raising funds this year for the school's music program.

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