When JF asked me to name the 5 best areas to rip in BC I thought to myself “self, easy, Fernie on any 5 days of the week”. Turns out that isn’t what he meant so after weeks of deliberation here they are. Keep in mind I like ski hills and ski towns not ski resorts so my list may not included the usual suspects.
Number 1 and most obvious Fernie. Seriously I’ve skied all over the world, continent, region and it is the best. It’s big enough that every day is an adventure, small enough to be friendly, treat locals and tourists the same and is my chosen home. The hill get’s more snow, more often that your chance of actual pow days are better than anywhere in Canada. If you miss the actual snow day chances are your late arrival one or two or more days later will still yield the goods. If you miss the whole cycle long fall line groomers, tree runs and/or bumps await so every skier is content.
Apres is what you want it to be, ice bars, steak and potatoes, sushi, drink, dance, snowshoe, Nordic skiing, fat biking or getting your retail on at one of the fine local ski shops (hint, hint).
Number 2A is Red Mountain near Rossland, BC. This awesome area is relatively new to me as I only discovered it when my kids started travelling for races. I can only describe it as a true skiers mountain. It gets a ton of snow and is far enough off the beaten path that crowds seem to be a non-issue. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad run here? Home to the interestingly named “National Training Center” competitive skiing is still a big part of the Red lifestyle, aptly so given how many national team members in so many disciplines hail from Red. 2017’s “stick it to the man” fundraiser has shown early benefits in the rejuvenation of the base area to improve the guest experience. If you want a fairly accurate if tongue in cheek of all things Red, google “Red SUCKS” for probably the best mountain promotion ever.
Number 2B is Whitewater located near Nelson. Let’s get this out of the way. There is no better food in a day lodge anywhere in the WORLD! I tend to judge ski areas on terrain and snow, we all know that food is an afterthought for most resorts (or seems to be). I will forego most food in order to have a great ski day. I can do that here too but it would be a big mistake. Skiing here harkens back to the community ski hills of days gone by. Everyone’s a local (locals will hate me for that). The stoke level in the lift line (I use the term lightly) on a snow day is palpable and everyone is ready to rip and don’t be surprised when that grom in the Marvin the Martian helmet beats you to the bottom, every run.
Number 2C is Revelstoke Mountain Resort. BIG, no other word describes it. Capitalizing on the combination of the original “town” ski hill and a former cat ski op the skiing here is epic. Modern area planning means a minimum of lifts get you to the goods efficiently. Revy is far enough away from big centers that day skiing crowds that may show up at other resorts on snow days don’t happen here. It also means that pros that may have once flocked to more hyped resorts now call this place home, ripping it up during the day while running businesses and raising families the rest of the time. Big, big dumps happen a lot and the terrain is raw so use your best judgment when considering out of bounds adventure (seriously don’t do it). If braaap braaap is your style Revy has some of the world’s best snowmobiling too.
Number 2D lands us at Big White an hour outside of Kelowna. I became enamored with the mountain when I was still a gear sales rep and Big White was the site of the annual dealer ski test. A departure for me in that this is a legit resort able to accommodate and entertain vast numbers of skiers and their families yet not feel crowded at all. The mountain stands above the local range and strange for me you can pretty much ski every direction from the top of the lifts, no “bowls” here. When the sun is out you can see forever, after a snowfall the trees will form “snow ghosts” that are truly magical on bluebird days. The grooming here is awesome so breaks from deep snow are not unwelcome and make skiing with friends and family of varying skill levels easy. Apres is easy as the base area has something for everyone. I must add as a meatatarian that the grocery store/market has some of the best meat I’ve ever seen so bar-b-q back at the room offers an alternative to dining out.