Whistler’s beloved Camp of Champions closes after 28 years

On Wednesday night, in a press release posted to its website, Whistler Blackcomb’s beloved Camp of Champions — one of the most recognized summer ski and snowboarding camps in North America — announced that it would be closing down.

The announcement was made via an open letter from Ken Achenbach, the owner and founder of Camp of Champions.

“My dream was running COC until I was 100 … I wanted camp to be like Mt. Baker. A multi-generational experience that is second to none,” stated Achenbach. “On May 31st, we received an email from Whistler Blackcomb stating, ‘It may look like there is plenty of snow to use on the glacier but in reality this season’s snow pack is not very dense and is full of air.'”

In his open letter, Achenbach wrote that he had never heard such grim news from the team at Whistler Blackcomb, even in recent years when snowfall was paltry on Blackcomb Glacier.

“Once I received this email, I knew that we weren’t going to have enough snow to build the park we’ve been promising everyone all winter,” Achenbach wrote. “Whistler Blackcomb never said, ‘There is less snow than meets the eye’ before, even in the worst of the drought years.”

Camp of Champions has been a destination for skiers and snowboarders who want to improve their abilities during the summer for more than two decades. Photo: Courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb

Achenbach placed the blame for having to shut down squarely on changing climates, and noted that global warming has greatly reduced the amount of ice on Blackcomb Glacier. He claimed that in 2015 alone, the glacier lost 35 vertical feet of ice.

“Simply put, it’s the effects of global warming,” Achenbach wrote when referencing why he was shutting down the camp. “I wanted to give you an exceptional experience, and now I can’t. I haven’t slept in a week. After 28 years my dream is over.”

“This is so far from what I ever wanted for camp but global warming has decimated the glacier and our ability to run a summer camp,” Achenbach continued. “Closing now and dropping this terrible inconvenience on you breaks my heart. I dread thinking about the plane tickets, the booked holidays, the headaches and heartache I’ve created for you and worst of all, wrecking your kid’s dream summer.”

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The course set up at last year’s Camp of Champions. Photo: Courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb

Achenbach closed, the letter on an emotional note, by telling his customers he was, “sorry for letting you and your family down.”

The announcement was met with a sharing of condolences from SNOWBOARDER and TRANSWORLD SNOWBOARDING, who thanked Achenbach for all his camp has done to progress snowboarding and support the summertime stoke in North America.

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