Ski Northern BC this Winter
For a dusting of powder and charm.
With all the skiing I’ve done over the past four seasons, it’s a wonder that I haven’t been to Shames Mountain prior to this February. But since I needed to be in Terrace to get a key re-programmed for my Subaru, it was a good excuse to extend the trip by a day and spend some time on the slopes at Shames. The added bonus was that this trip coincided with one of my wife’s days off, so it was a win-win. Quality time with my wife, and a few hours of skiing on a new Northern BC mountain.
One of the first people we ran into was a mom with her two kids. The younger of the two had on a little pair of skis with a strap connecting the tips (a tool to aid those learning to ski). I asked her why she likes skiing so much. Her response? “I like to fly.” Making this small connection and having a laugh to start the day made for a nice introduction to the ski hill.
Later, as we got off the T-bar at the top of the mountain, I noticed a run called Eye Candy. The fog wasn’t too heavy at that point, and I could see amazingly beautiful, snow-covered mountains all around us. This particular run was aptly named. I’m used to seeing mountains from my home ski hill, but to see them so close here was a real treat.
Another time at the top of the T-bar, my wife and I ran into a friend who was snowboarding with his new bride. One of his favourite things about Shames is the lift-accessible backcountry areas. Just beyond the unloading area for the T-bar were all manner of tracks leading up the slope behind the lift. Just a short hike up, I was told, and the mountains literally open up in front of you. Having such immediate access to the backcountry that doesn’t require you to skin, snowshoe or sled in is a wonderful perk. It definitely makes me want to come back and do some exploring.
As the lifts closed, and we came into the lodge to get out of our ski boots, we got to talking with Doug, a long-time skier who said he liked Shames because it fit his three-fold requirement for a ski hill: powder, speed and airtime. Apparently Shames offers these in abundance.
We met another couple of people who overheard the tail end of our conversation with Doug, and they invited us up to the lounge to share their perspective on the hill. What followed was about an hour of laughter and great stories. My takeaways from that conversation included the importance of community, and how many people come together to share their ideas and put things into practice. For without that sense of ownership and involvement, nothing would get done. Talking with one of the directors of the co-op, I was really impressed by his passion for collaboration and sharing experiences.
Nearby was a little girl who has obviously had a big impact on the lives of the staff and frequent visitors to the ski hill. I know this to be true by the number of people who joined in the singing of Happy Birthday, and by the big cheer as she blew out the candles on her cake. I’m sure if I had asked her why she loves Shames so much, one of her reasons would have been the people. The love and care that people have for one another here was exemplified by the simple presentation of a cake and a song.
And with that, my first day at Shames was over. I left the hill filled with the experiences of the day, from discussions with locals to what I saw through my camera, and I shall definitely be back. Shames boasts a family-friendly atmosphere and great terrain, and I’m glad to finally know a little about this place for the next time friends talk about the fun they had here.
My wife summed it up nicely when she said, “The people were friendly, the mountains were beautiful, and someday I’m looking forward to checking out more of what we didn’t see today.”
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