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Snow Scene – Ski Hills Preview

by Blog Updates |

It’s that time of year again. That first nip in the air, the quickening pulse, and the knowledge that, any day now, you’ll be making tracks on your first ski run of the season.

Here in British Columbia we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to long runs and powdery glades. From the laid back little towns of the Kootenay Rockies to the family-friendly Okanagan and the glamourous après at Whistler, B.C. is home to at least 13 world class ski resorts. 

Wait, what’s that night-lit run you can see from your office window? If you’re in Vancouver you’re just 30 minutes from the slopes. Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour all offer great skiing (day and night), plus lessons, rentals, and a chance to get some runs in any day of the week. 

The largest of the North Shore mountains, Cypress has the highest vertical rise and offers 54 runs. And is the only one of the three mountain with cross country skiing. New this year for season passholders Cypress is offering a all season skis, boots and binding rental for $99. And you get to take it keep them all season long.

From beginner to advanced B.C has the right hill for every type. Here’s a round up of what each one has to offer.

Whistler Blackcomb

For the third year running, Whistler Blackcomb has been named the Number One Overall Ski Resort in North America by SKI Magazine readers.

They’ve already had a dump of snow and opening day is scheduled for November 24.

Just two hours from Vancouver, this two-mountain destination boasts the largest ski area on the continent, with 200 marked runs, 16 alpine bowls, and three glaciers.

Add jaw-dropping scenery, a village hopping with chic après, and endless off-piste fun (think sleigh-rides, snowmobiling, snow-shoeing and more). The record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola offers access to runs on both mountains and the awe-inspiring scenery in between.

Whistler has always been a great option for skiers of all levels, but this year it’s even more attractive to beginners with two new covered magic carpet lifts and more beginner-friendly terrain. Foodies? You’re in the right place. The village is home to some of BC’s best restaurants, and even hillside snacks skew wholesome, locally-sourced and naturally-raised.

Sun Peaks Resort

With the country’s second largest ski area spread across three mountain faces, there’s room to spare at Sun Peaks. Just four hours from Vancouver and 45 minutes north of Kamloops Airport, this sun-blessed Okanagan resort has 135 runs and 12 lifts centered on a European-style ski-through village. That’s right. Sun Peaks isn’t just ski-in, ski-out — you can actually glide right on through much of the village.Sunpeaks has Canada's second largest ski area.

Sun Peaks is big, but it’s also hospitable. Sun Hosts run personalized tours every day during the season and, on weekends, you might even get to cut turns with Nancy Greene Raine, Sun Peaks’ Director of Skiing and Canada’s Female Athlete of the 20thcentury.

More fun? Everything from dog-sledding and horse-drawn sleigh rides to ice fishing and snow bikes is on hand at Sun Peaks. This season, watch for hockey action on the NHL-size outdoor skating rink due to open in the village this winter.

And if three mountains don’t cut it, you can explore Sun Peaks’ powder-filled backcountry with a guide and instructor, or try heli or cat-skiing.

Big White Ski Resort

Taking the kids? Consider Big White.

With Western Canada’s largest night skiing area, 15 lifts serving 118 runs and more than 7 metres of Okanagan Champagne powder annually, Big White has plenty of grown up skiing chops, but it’s also a top choice for families.Downhill skiing at Big White Ski Resort.

Less than an hour from Kelowna Airport and home to the largest ski-in, ski-out resort village in the country, Big White has expanded its award-winning Kids’ Centre. Features include a shuttle to whisk little snowploughers straight from their condo to the bunny hill, plus complimentary helmets and GPS systems to track their daily vertical. On mountain, the Ogopogo Adventure Trail is built just for kids, while the Kids’ Centre’s After Dark programs provide child-friendly après.

Add a wealth of winter sports from Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling to dogsledding, horse-drawn sleigh rides, tubing, skating on the country’s highest rink and even a 60-metre high ice climbing tower, and you’ve got enough to keep everyone busy all season long. 

SilverStar Mountain Resort

Just 22 kilometres from Vernon and less than an hour from Kelowna airport, SilverStar’s cute western-themed, ski-in, ski-out village makes a great base for exploring B.C.’s third largest ski area. With 131 runs across four mountain faces, including some newly opened glades and double black diamond steeps, downhillers and boarders are spoilt for choice. Nordic skiers flock to SilverStar as well to explore the 105 kilometres of trails at the resort and at neighbouring Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre.Cross-county skiing at Silver Star Mountain Resort.

In fact, there’s so much to do here that SilverStar has expanded its My1Pass — Canada’s first all-inclusive season’s pass and lift ticket. For one price, powder hounds can ski and snowboard, cross-country, snowshoe, tube, ice-skate and, new this year, try fat biking (that’s biking in the snow on oversized tires) all on one ticket.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort

If you haven’t made tracks to Revelstoke yet, this might be the year. Pacific Coastal Airlines plans to offer twice weekly flights from Vancouver to Revelstoke this winter, making Canada’s newest ski destination more accessible than ever.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort, opened in 2007 in B.C.’s Kootenay Rockies region, boasts, at 1,712 metres, the longest lift-serviced vertical on the continent.

And that makes for some really long runs. After a day of exploring Revelstoke’s treed glades and powder-filled bowls, or boarding in the newly expanded terrain park, you can cruise back to the village on the Last Spike — it runs a whopping 15.2 kilometres down to the village base.

Revelstoke is still the only resort in the world to offer lift-serviced, backcountry, cat- and heli-skiing (and even tandem paragliding) from one village base. 

Apex Mountain Resort

Here’s an insiders’ tip: Apex Mountain Resort, a full-service ski destination just 30 minutes from Penticton, has the same great snow and varied terrain as its Okanagan neighbours, but it’s still under the radar, drawing savvy locals to its 75 trails and wealth of powder-filled bowls and glades. Also offered are tubing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and cross country skiing at nearby Nickel Plate Nordic Centre. Overnight?

There’s plenty of on-mountain accommodation in the ski-in, ski-out village. All the better to enjoy such charmingly low-key après as skating under the stars on a night-lit ice-skating loop.

RED Mountain Resort

This historic resort near Rossland anchors the southern tip of BC’s legendary Powder Highway — a string of eight lift-serviced resorts, two dozen cat- and heli-ski operators, and a host of Nordic areas and backcountry lodges in southeast BC’s Rockies, Purcells and Monashees.

Powder hounds flock here to explore the 1,164 hectares of terrain across three mountains, 360 degree peak descents, some of the best gladed tree runs found anywhere, and the most affordable cat-skiing around. For just $10 you can hop on one of six daily snowcat trips and enjoy fresh tracks and gladed slopes on Mt. Kirkup. Cross country, snowshoeing, and some fun après round out the offerings.

Whitewater Ski Resort

A short drive from the quirky, artsy town of Nelson, this Powder Highway destination is a local’s favourite, with 12 metres of annual snow falling on 81 uncrowded runs. It’s a top backcountry destination too – with five operators in the area offering snowcat access to unforgettable untracked terrain. Nelson is where it’s at for restaurants and cute B&B’s, but the hill’s own eatery, the Fresh Tracks Café, has inspired four bestselling cookbooks.

 Fernie Alpine Resort

Powder hounds favour Fernie, an historic Kootenay Rockies mountain town where 11 meters of white stuff annually makes for one of the snowiest ski areas in B.C. Known for its steeps, deeps, and bowls, Fernie is also much loved for its friendly ambience and easy-going hipster vibe. For guaranteed fresh tracks join a pre-opening trip with a ski-touring guide and carve turns in the early morning before the lifts are even open. Another option is this season’s new offering: a combined resort and cat-skiing day trip. You can even star in your own ski video here: a drone films you as you ski and a film editor will create a professional video starring you. 

Kimberley Alpine Resort

Surrounded by the peaks of the Selkirk and Rocky mountains, this Powder Highway destination is known for its family-friendly features, including a new skating rink and kids’ centre, as well as its great snow, minimal lift lines and 80 uncrowded runs at all levels. Kimberley is also home to North America’s longest night-skiing run, a 2.5 kilometre cruiser. If you’ve always wanted to try backcountry skiing, the resort, teamed with Boulder Hut Adventures, makes it easy: a helicopter will pick you up at Trickle Creek Lodge for a day of carving fresh tracks.

Manning Park Resort

Located in the provincial park, 3 hours from Vancouver along the Hope-Princeton Highway, Manning Park Resort gets a lot of snow. How much?Cross-country skiing at Manning Park.

For the 201o Olympics snow was trucked from Manning Park to some official venues. Manning Park offers 34 runs, the highest being 437 meters, and 60 km of groomed cross-country trails. Also on hand is a tube park, snowshoeing, tobogganing and ice skating. There is no night skiing, but on hill accommodations and winter camping is available. 

Panorama Mountain Resort

Spring-fed hot pools, rustic mountain huts, and a relaxed vibe are just part of the draw at this family-friendly Powder Highway resort. Ten lifts whisk skiers and boarders up to 120 runs, including the spectacular, newly-opened Taynton Bowl. Nordic trails and fat tire biking add to the fun, as does cat and heli-skiing available right from the village. There are plenty of restaurants in Panorama Mountain Village, but for an unforgettable dining experience, fly by whirly bird to a heli-fondue at the Summit Hut, 2,365 meters above sea level.

 Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

There are lots of snowy ski areas in B.C., but only Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, tucked between the Purcells and the Rockies near Golden, claims the title of Champagne Powder Capital of Canada. With 7.5 metres of fluffy white stuff annually, it has a good claim. Kicking Horse also boasts one of North America’s highest verticals, more than 1,133 hectares of skiable terrain, and some legendary chute skiing. A must do at Kicking Horse is to dine at Eagle’s Eye Restaurant; at 2,346 metres above sea level it’s the highest restaurant in North America.

Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Ski and surf on the same day? Sure. At Mount Washington Alpine Resort, 40 minutes from the Comox Valley International Airport, you can grab fresh tracks in the morning before catching a wave at Tofino’s Chesterman Beach. Of course you don’t have to do it in a day; ski and surf packages offer a weekend or more of snow and surf options. Even without the surfing, Mount Washington, with its family-oriented village, offers sweeping ocean views and plenty of powder on 60 runs and two terrain parks. Five lifts mean short lines, while four magic carpets make this a great choice for newbies. 

Profiles compiled by Sue Kernaghan on behalf of Destination BC

Source: Vancouver Sun