BC’s Community Ski Areas: T-bars, Two-Man Lifts, and Local Ski Culture

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There’s a simplicity to ski areas that operate T-bars, tow ropes, and two-person lifts—all hearkening back to skiing’s early days. In British Columbia, you don’t need a time machine to experience an old-school skiing vibe. Here, there are plenty of community ski areas in operation, all promising great options for the family and laid-back skiers. It’s affordable, too; tickets at these community hills are as low as $28.50 for a full day of skiing.

Check out these community ski resorts across British Columbia for a trip down memory lane.

In Northern British Columbia

Tabor Mountain Ski Resort in Northern BC.

Tabor Mountain Ski Resort in Northern BC. Photo: Andrew Strain

In Northern BC, you’re guaranteed massive mountain terrain, minus the crowds. Just outside Prince George sits Tabor Mountain Ski Resort and Purden Ski Village—two options to get the snow under your feet close to Northern BC’s largest city. Murray Ridge Ski Area, outside Fort St. James, is the perfect place to get in some turns on a hill run by volunteers. It’s also reputed to have North America’s longest T-bar, at 510 metres (1,675 feet) long and home to the Mount Everest Challenge, where participants sign up to ski a minimum of 18 runs (or 30,000 vertical feet) in one day.

Heading west skiers get their kicks at Hudson Bay Mountain in Smithers. This  mountain has two T-bars and one lift where skiers can access 36 runs including the “Trail to Town”—a ski run that takes people from the mountain right back to the town of Smithers. Keep heading west to Terrace and you’ll find Shames Mountain, a place that is literally owned by the people. Run by My Mountain Co-Op, Canada’s first non-profit community ski co-operative, Shames was taken over by a group of dedicated skiers and community members to prevent its closure. An insightful move, as this slice of skiing paradise is backed by more than 2,833 hectares (7,000 acres) of backcountry terrain, and receives an average annual snowfall of 12 metres (39 feet).

Chasing friends down Shames Mountain near Terrace.

Chasing friends down Shames Mountain near Terrace. Photo: @calsnape via Instagram

If you head northeast, Powder King Mountain Resort and Bear Mountain are two more ski areas in Northern BC ready for visitors who prefer a more low-key ski experience.

Along the Powder Highway 

Soaking in Fairmont Hot Springs along BC's Powder Highway.

Soaking in Fairmont Hot Springs along BC’s Powder Highway. Photo: Kari Medig

Along BC’s Powder Highway sits three smaller community resorts.  Just a 30-minute drive south of Nelson is Salmo Ski Hill. This tiny five-run operation is managed solely by volunteers and the friendly staff keep lifts turning with night skiing and a half pipe. North towards Revelstoke is the Summit Lake Ski and Snowboard Area. This hill packs a punch with alpine and cross-country skiing, a terrain park, tubing, and snowshoe trails. Bonus: it’s a family-friendly option that won’t break the bank. Towards the east is Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, where slopes are situated near one of the largest hot springs in Canada. Soak and ski? Yes please.

On the Coast

Mount Cain is a hidden gem on Vancouver Island for skiers.

Mount Cain is a hidden gem on Vancouver Island for skiers. Photo: @westcoastlife via Instagram

Near Vancouver, there are two community ski areas: Sasquatch Mountain Resort offers night skiing and tubing, and on Friday nights, families of four can ski for $20; and Manning Park Resort, three hours east of Vancouver, promises alpine and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, a tube park, and ice skating. Both resorts offer affordable options to get the kids outside during the winter months.

Vancouver Island may not scream enormous mountains and heavy snowfall, but don’t be fooled: the two T-bars and one handle-tow at Mount Cain provides skiers access to 21 runs and a bounty of backcountry terrain that is blessed with an average annual snowfall of 11 metres (38 feet).

In BC’s Interior

For adventure and plenty of fresh air head to Baldy Mountain Resort. This little mountain near Osoyoos—known for fantastic glade skiing, and dry, light powder—re-opened to skiers in December 2016 after a series of closures between 2012 and 2015. Seniors score big here, thanks to $89 season passes. Welcome back, Baldy.

Skiing through the trees at Baldy Mountain Resort near Osoyoos.

Skiing through the trees at Baldy Mountain Resort. Photo: @apreswheeler via Instagram.

In BC’s Interior you’ll also find Phoenix Mountain near Grand Forks, Harper Mountain just outside Kamloops, along with Mt. Timothy Ski Area and Troll Resort in BC’s Cariboo region. For a list of all BC ski resorts and community ski hills, check out the BC ski map to plan your next trip.

Featured Image: Shames Mountain Resort