feature 301 

Tyrol Lodge part of European tradition Unlike the Rainbow or Hillcrest Lodges, which were built to attract summer visitors, the Tyrol Lodge was built specifically for winter activities. Austrian ex-patriot Stefan Ples, one of Whistler’s first alpine pioneers, founded the Tyrol Ski Club and built the original lodge in 1959 — fully six years before the first lifts began operation on Whistler Mountain. Ples used to set out at dawn with skins on his skis, climb a mountain, pause to unpack and eat his lunch at the top, and then ski back to the valley. He spent countless days with Garibaldi Lifts Ltd.’s first president, Franz Wilhelmsen, climbing Whistler Mountain and searching for the best lines for lifts and runs. Even after the lifts were installed he still preferred climbing up hill over taking a lift. The club has always maintained its European roots and with them the philosophy that some degree of self sufficiency is necessary, both to enjoy the mountains and to get to the lodge. For 40 years the club sponsored the Tyrol GS ski race, which began on Mount Seymour but moved to Whistler Mountain in the 1960s. Last spring the final Tyrol GS — the longest continuously run ski race in B.C. — was held on Whistler. Most of the original club members having done enough for skiing, the race was retired.

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