By Feet Banks.
As a ski resort, the nail in the coffin for Forbidden Plateau came at the hands of the 1998/99 La Niña storm cycle, the one whose now-legendary snow dumps broke records across coastal BC. At Forbidden Plateau, they also broke the lodge, literally collapsing the building and crushing the resort’s future.
The area’s history is also the stuff of legends, but local snowboarder, Pat Kitto, sets the record straight. “It was never an Indian battleground,” Pat explains. “The Comox tribe used to send the women and children up here when they would battle with the neighbouring Cowichan tribe, to keep them safe, but one time they came back up and the whole area was covered in blood-red flowers and all the families had disappeared into thin air. It was a forbidden place after that. Some people think it’s a ghost mountain haunted by evil spirits, but we’re cool with them.”
Kitto and his buddies grew up riding at Forbidden and when ski operations ceased, they moved in. “OGs like Olaf, Trigger, Tooves, Joey, Bubbs,” says Kitto. “Some of the main dudes grew up on the road at the bottom of that mountain and some of us have bought property there to keep close to the goods. The whole crew loves the natural terrain and with the ski hill abandoned, we had our own private mountain.”
The ski runs are indeed still there, lying empty under one last decrepit chairlift, and the road and parking lot still get plowed.
Forbidden Plateau also sees weekend action from tobogganers and granola-munching ski tourers, but every spring since the winter of 1999, Kitto and his crew have bred new life into the creaky old hill with JumpCamp, one of the most prestigious snowboard camps on the Island.
“It’s for shredders of all ages and abilities who want to step it up a notch,” says Pat, ringleader of JumpCamp and a firm believer in sharing the stoke. Pat and his crew snowmobile-shuttle Jump-Campers all over the mountain, ensuring everyone gets a turn at the hand-built jumps and features, natural chutes and secret pow stashes. JumpCamp is about that natural riding experience that lured Kitto to Forbidden in the first place. “Over the years we’ve watched campers grow from little groms to coaches, to pro shredders, to completely washed-up.”
The pride is obvious. JumpCamp, like the people who run it, is about having fun riding natural terrain with anyone who understands the awesomeness of having a private, abandoned, and possibly haunted, powder paradise to rip around in.