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BC Ski Stories – Winter 2024

January 19, 2024
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Mount Revelstoke Mountain Resort | Kootenay Rockies Tourism/Mitch Winton

It’s Snowing at BC Ski Resorts!

After an unseasonably warm start to winter, BC’s ski resorts are experiencing much-needed snowfall, sending ripples of excitement through the skiing and snowboarding community. Now is the time to flock to the mountains.

CMH Guides, Bugaboos | Kendra Hicks

Celebrating inclusive skiing in BC

In BC, we firmly believe that anyone should have the opportunity to ski. Whether an 80-year-old ski champion still shredding the slopes, Indigenous women learning backcountry survival skills, or visually impaired people exploring the backcountry, BC is proving that skiing can be one of the most inclusive sports around:

  • Canadian senator Nancy Greene Raine is a former ski racer, Olympic champion, coach, and mountain resort visionary—and this winter, you can meet her at the mountain resort of her hometown, Sun Peaks. Throughout the season, Nancy will greet skiers at the top of the Sunburst Express, and shred powder with whomever is willing. Check for signage at the top and bottom of the chairlift to see if Nancy is skiing; she’s usually there on Sundays, Mondays, and Wednesdays at 1 p.m. See Nancy’s inspiring story in this online video.
  • Whistler Heliskiing, in collaboration with Indigenous Women Outdoors and the Canadian Ski Guide Association, held its first Backcountry Skills Course this December with eight Indigenous students and four ski guides. The course – which was held over four days at Whistler Heli Skiing, in resort at Whistler Blackcomb, and in Garibaldi Provincial Park – taught backcountry safety skills to empower the group to travel independently on their traditional lands. 
  • Founded in 2020 by Tyson Rettie, a ski guide and avalanche professional from Invermere who lost his vision due to a rare mitochondrial disease, Braille Mountain Initiative is committed to helping visually impaired people journey into BC’s backcountry. In spring 2024, the non-profit will lead a group of visually impaired skiers to Sorcerer Lodge, a helicopter-accessed site in the Selkirk Mountains near Golden. During the trip, participants will learn essential skills to recreate safely, including Avalanche Skills Training Level 1. 
  • CMH Heliskiing has made history with an all-female heliskiing guide team at the Bugaboos, a range located in the Purcell Mountains in southeastern BC. One of the team members is Helen Sovdat, who has worked for the company for over three decades and was the third woman in North America to earn full certification as an ACMG/IFMGA Mountain Guide. Sovdat has spent years exploring new and challenging terrain, leading expeditions within Canada and abroad, and heading up Alpine Club of Canada General Mountaineering camps. 

AlpX Yurt at AlpX Expeditions, Pemberton Mountains | Spencer Watson

The coolest ski accommodations in BC

Sure, you can stay in a traditional lodge—but if you want to up the accommodation ante, splurge on one of these out-of-the-box options for your next BC ski holiday:

  • Eager for a memorable heli-skiing adventure? Venture deep into the heart of Bella Coola aboard Bella Coola Heli SportsMV Cascadia, a 138-foot catamaran with eight guest cabins and a private helicopter. In partnership with eco-tourism operator Maple Leaf Adventures, this unprecedented experience leads guests into 3.55 million acres of pristine terrain exclusive to Bella Coola Heli Sports—one of the largest ski areas in the world. Whether skiing on an isolated island, diving into the Pacific Ocean for a cold-water swim, or relaxing in a hot tub on the boat’s top deck, guests will find each day brings a new adventure, and each night an enchanting anchorage. The experience is offered between early March and early April. 
  • Situated in the Pemberton Mountains, AlpX Yurt—an offering by AlpX Expeditions, a division of Blackcomb Helicopters in Whistler—is the Sea to Sky’s newest backcountry accommodation. Accessed via a quick helicopter flight from Pemberton Airport, the yurt welcomes guests with six cozy bunks, a comfortable living area, and a patio surrounded by snowcapped trees and dramatic peaks. After a day of skiing the high-alpine terrain, return to home base and prepare a hearty meal on your cookstove; there’s plenty of space to dry your gear for the next morning. Note: The yurt’s backcountry locale is best suited for intermediate to expert skiers and boarders. 
  • Opened in 2023, Hummingbird Lodge and Campground at Whitewater Ski Resort in Nelson invites adventurers of all ages and skill levels to indulge in winter pursuits, ranging from cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to backcountry education. The site is well equipped with 10 RV sites, a two-bedroom private suite, a classroom, and a café and general store. Guests can use the lodge and campground as home base to experience Whitewater’s myriad winter activities, or attend an onsite first aid or backcountry clinic

Revitalization of Edelweiss Village in Golden is underway! Home to the pioneering Swiss Mountain Guides of the Rocky Mountains, the village—including six Swiss-style chalets—is undergoing renovation to preserve its historic roots. The village was formerly up for sale, and at risk of demolition; however, the new owners are collaborating with the Swiss Edelweiss Village Foundation to ensure the area’s significant history is not forgotten. The chalets will be available for rent starting spring 2024—just in time for spring skiing at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

Panorama Mountain Resort | Destination BC/Kari Medig

Want to ski sustainably? Set your sights on BC 

Ski accommodations in BC are doing their part to protect the environment, providing a cozy respite for travellers who want to minimize their footprint:

  • Retallack Lodge, located deep in the Selkirk Mountains, offers some of the best cat-accessed powder skiing and snowboarding in the world. Here, visitors can play on 40 square kilometres (10,000 acres) sprawled across three mountain peaks, with snowcat access drop-off points between 7,000 and 8,500 feet. Best of all, the off-grid lodge prioritizes protection of the alpine wilderness. Completely self-sufficient with all power supplied by its hydroelectric plant, Retallack is the first cat- or heli-skiing operation to be awarded four green keys from the Hotel Association of Canada’s Green Key Eco-Rating program. The lodge is located an hour’s drive north of Nelson
  • Panorama Mountain Resort near Invermere is the first resort in Canada to earn the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada’s Whitebark Pine Friendly Ski Area designation. The designation recognizes Panorama’s 30-plus years of effort to support recovery of the threatened whitebark pine tree species, which plays a critical role in maintaining the mountain ecosystem. The tree’s nutritious seeds help to sustain grizzly bears and a variety of birds, while its roots support healthy watersheds by stabilizing alpine slopes and regulating snowpack runoff. Since 2012, the whitebark pine has been listed as endangered under the Government of Canada’s Species at Risk Act.
  • Sun Peaks Resort LLP has been certified to ISO 14001 (Certification #113313),an environmental management system developed by the International Organization for Standardization. As a leader in protecting the environment, Sun Peaks Resort, near Kamloops, was the first ski resort in North America to be certified under ISO 14001 in April 2004, and is one of the few in North America to hold this certification. In 2019, Sun Peaks Resort LLP ran a pilot project and partnered with Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality Utilities to collect and treat all organic waste from their food outlets and treat it using biosolids from the community to create soil and/or fertilizer. The pilot was a success and discussions continue to expand the program for all independent restaurants and food outlets within the community at large.