Protecting Our Winters and Greening Our Hills


Climate change is top of mind for many as we head into 2010 on the heels of a disappointing United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15).

This threat to humanity is, perhaps, most apparent to those of us who live in mountain resorts. As glaciers across the globe recede and the world’s climate systems become more unpredictable, many of us have found ourselves thinking: “What if the snow stopped falling?

Growing up in the lush province of British Columbia has reminded me every day how incredible Nature is – and how equally vulnerable she is. We rely on Nature for many things; from providing our drinking water to powering our homes to providing us with a plentiful outdoor playground. But as much as we take from her, we must also remember to repay the favour.

There are many passionate and dedicated people making great strides in their communities and “greening” the way to a more sustainable future. I need not look any further than my own community of Whistler and my own industry, the ski and snowboard world.

Whistler-based Hilltrip is a collective of mountain enthusiasts who describe themselves as a “Social Enterprise specialized in Social Marketing with a focus on Events and Promotions.” Through environment-focused events, they hope to educate people about climate change and how to fight it.

From organizing events for Earth Day, to Whistler’s Enviro-Fest, to benefit concerts, to film festivals Hilltrip has helped raise the profile of environmental awareness since 2004.

Hilltrip also hosts Green Drinks in Whistler at Black’s Pub from 8pm-10pm. It’s a gathering ground for like-minded people to get together and chat about our “environmental destiny.”

Participants receive a free Granville Island beer and appies with donation to AWARE. Then, the jam session begins.

Hilltrip has partnered with many groups along the way. One such group is Protect our Winters, founded by pro snowboarder, Jeremy Jones. The goal of POW is to unite the snow industry on the issue of climate change and to encourage mountain resorts to do their part in combating it. The organization already has an impressive roster of partners, including Burton, Vans, Rossignol, Dakine, Transworld Snowboarding Magazine, Teton Gravity Research, and even Whistler’s Origin Design and Communications.

According to their website, Protect Our Winters has donated more than $125,000 in grants to over 20 grassroots environmental groups since 2008.

Last year was a landmark year for POW. They funded the first human-powered film, “My Own Two Feet” and formed the POW Riders Alliance – which gives riders a chance to offset their travel by donating to protect rain forests.

Watch for their latest film, “Generations,” in 2010. This short film, produced in partnership with The North Face will screen at all major US film festivals throughout the year.

Join Hilltrip on Facebook.

Become a Fan of POW on Facebook and Twitter.

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