British Columbia

'I taught my son to ski on this hill:' 3 outdoor enthusiasts buy and revamp struggling B.C. ski resort

When three friends heard the local and well-loved Mount Timothy ski hill in the Cariboo was closing last year, they jumped at the chance to buy it.

Walter Bramsleven and two others have taken over Mount Timothy ski resort

A shot of the ski hill last year. The runs have since been gladed down with mechanical brush cutter and widened. (Submitted by Walter Bramsleven)

Running a ski resort was never in Walter Bramsleven's retirement plans. 

But when the 55-year-old heard the local and well-loved Mount Timothy ski hill was closing last year, he jumped at the chance, along with Larry Henderson and Kevin McCray, to buy the resort in B.C.'s Cariboo and revamp it. 

"I taught my son to ski on this hill," Bramsleven said.

"To see the facility not operate anymore, it kind of hit home and it hit us in the heart."

The ski hill, near Williams Lake, previously operated as a non-profit run by a volunteer society, but had faced financial difficulties for several years. 

Revenues plummeted in the last ski season because of a weather-delayed opening and too much snowfall blocking the road up to the hill. 

A lightning strike to a chairlift, causing months of technical problems, and the theft of expensive equipment didn't make matters any better. 

"We're all outdoor enthusiasts so we thought, 'Well, this would be something where we can work and play at the same time,'" Bramsleven told Shelley Joyce, host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops

"If you can do that in your life, you're fortunate and can't help but be successful." 

Mount Timothy ski resort has been renovated and refurbished over the last year and is almost ready to open. (Submitted by Walter Bramsleven)

All three were a bit out of their element as far as past careers go, Bramsleven said, but have a strong interest in skiing, snowmobiling and other winter sports. 

Bramsleven, who spent his career building timber frame and log homes, is now the general manager of Mount Timothy Recreation Resort. 

Henderson and McCray are the main principals backing the investment. 

The three took over the resort in March and, since then, have been working relentlessly to get the hill ready for the ski season. 

Much of the infrastructure, like the deck and the roof and the waterlines, was repaired or replaced over the summer. 

The ski runs have been scrubbed down to remove years of overgrowth and improve the lines, Bramsleven said, and new snowshoeing trails have been built for people who want to be on the hill — but not necessarily sliding down at high speed. 

"Right now, we're probably just sitting short of a million dollars so it's a significant investment," Bramsleven said. 

"That was part of our plan and we realized what we were up against."

Bramsleven said he hopes the resort will be open for skiing the week leading up to Christmas, but it all depends on the weather and snowfall. 

"It's in Mother Nature's hands," he said. 

With files from Daybreak Kamloops