Ski the Thompson - Okanagan
Too much heavy wet snow at the coast? There is an easy solution, just motor up the Coquihalla Highway and in approximately four hours you can experience some of the best dry powder in the country! Some 53 kilometers (33miles) north of Kamloops on Highway 5 is the newly renovated Sun Peaks Resort (previously called Tod Mountain). Over $25 million has just been spent on upgrading a mountain that really has much untapped potential. Two high speed quads, the Sunburst Express and the Sundance Express are now in operation and a great start has been made on providing needed on hill accomodation. This mountain features a vertical drop of 882 meters (2,894 feet), 61 named runs and numerous bowls and chutes in over 1,000 acres of skiable terrain. The mountain now has a 2500 foot long snowboard park. New features for 97/98 include a children's terrain garden and extensive, regularly groomed cross country trails. Olympic champion Nancy Greene's involvement with this resort is helping to make Sun Peaks an Interior destination point. Sun Peaks also has some of the most challenging runs in British Columbia. For the brave at heart, try the Challenger run as a test of your skiing skills! And over 449 cm (177 inches) of annual light, dry snow is well worth a visit. For hotel reservations and information call 1-250-578-7710 or toll free 1-800-807-3257, Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Some Sun Peak Statistics are;
Village Base Elevation:- 1,255 meters (4,117 feet), Burfield Chair Top:- 2,080 meters (6,824 feet), Vertical:- 882 meters (2,894 feet), Skiable Terrain:- 1,096 acres, Number of Runs:- 61, Longest Run:- 8 kilometers (5 miles), Lifts & Capacity:- 3 High speed quads (1 with bubble), 1 Triple, 1 T-bar, 1 Platter, 7,115 skiers per hour, Annual Snowfall:- 449 cm (177 inches), Snowmaking:- Not Required, Terrain Mix:- Novice 24%, Intermediate 54%, Expert 22%.
About 100 kilometers (60 miles) east and south on Highway 97 lies the fabulous Okanagan Lake and the downhill trio of Silver Star Mountain at Vernon, Big White Mountain at Kelowna and Penticton's Apex Mountain. If you enjoyed the powder skiing at Sun Peaks, you will continue to be in powder heaven at these Okanagan resorts and usually, without crowded slopes or long lift line-ups.
At the top end of Okanagan Lake you can find the pride and joy of the North Okanagan skiing fraternity. And it's almost in downtown Vernon! Head east from the Village Green Shopping Mall and 22 kilometers (14 miles) later you will arrive at the Silver Star Resort just brimming with new facilities modelled around an 1890 Victorian architecture theme for your total skiing pleasure. The opening of Putnam Creek in 1992 on the north side of Silver Star has forever changed this mountain from a good family hill to a resort with more than sufficient expert skiing challenge! Proficient grooming together with thorough off season ski run smoothing guarantees excellent skiing throughout from their November opening to the last day of skiing in early April. Care for some refreshments after skiing or do you want to ski straight to your room door? No problem at Silver Star, as it is one of Canada's best planned centers for skier convenience. Cross country skiers are in for a treat as well as the mountain has hosted early season training for Canada's cross country team for many years. For more information call 1-250-542-0224 and accomodation at 1-800-663-4431.
Some Silver Star Statistics are;
Village Elevation:- 1,609 meters (5,280 feet), Summit Elevation:- 1,915 meters (6,280 feet), Vertical Drop:- 760 meters (2,500 feet), Skiable Terrain:- 1,200 acres, Number of Runs:- 84, Longest Run:- 8.3 kilometers (5.2 miles), Lifts & Capacity:- 3 High Speed Quads, 2 Doubles, 2 T-bars, 1 Handle Tow, 11,800 skiers per hour, Annual Snowfall:- 500 cm (200 inches), Snowmaking:- Not Required, Terrain Mix:- Novice 15%, Intermediate 55%, Expert 30%.
No ski trip to the sunny Okanagan is complete without visiting the Valley's remaining ski resorts! Big White's name implies a gigantic snow bound resort which is exactly what it is! There are days, mainly prior to spring skiing, when a thick fog surrounds the mountain but local skiers know the secret as you can still enjoy the powder in the many treed glade runs. Accomodation can be found at the expansive village (elevation approximately one mile high) or in abundance in the city of Kelowna which is 55 kilometers (34 miles) west on Highway 33. Four high speed quad lifts take you to over 2,000 acres of groomed runs and in keeping with Big White's reputation, you can enjoy another 500 acres of bowls and glades. Like radical skiing? Try the Cliff on Big White's east side which after one of the frequent powder snowfalls, is as good as steep helicopter skiing! The Australian owner of the resort opened a major expansion for Big White, the Westridge development during the 1996/97 season! A new day lodge and a high speed Dopplemayr quad, the Gem Lake Express, has been built on the mountain's west side thus opening up a wealth of new terrain. For local skiers such as myself, this is a bonus as the 55 minute day trip from Kelowna to the mountain can be shortened by some 15 minutes. Night skiing is also available. For more information call 1-250-765-3101 or toll free 1-800-663-2772, Email email@example.com.
Some Big White Statistics are;
Village Center Elevation:- 1,755 meters (5,760 feet), Summit Elevation:- 2,318 meters (7,606 feet), Vertical:- 777 meters (2,550 feet), Skiable Terrain:- 2,075 acres, Number of Runs:- 100, Longest Run:- 7.2 kilometers (4.5 miles), Lifts & Capacity:- 4 high speed quads, 1 fixed grip quad, 1 triple, 1 double, 3 Poma, T-bar, 17,800 skiers per hour, Two snowboard parks totalling 8 acres, Annual Snowfall:- 565 cm (225 inches), Snowmaking:- Not Required, Terrain Mix:- Novice 18%, Intermediate 56%, Expert 26%.
But what about the third member of the Okanagan Valley's skiing mecca? Apex Mountain is about 40 minutes west by automobile from Penticton which in turn is found at the south end of beautiful Okanagan Lake. Less glamorized than either Silver Star or Big White, Apex nonetheless offers quality downhill and cross country skiing often only dreamed about by some North American resorts! The runs, 56 downhill trails in all, tend to be steep where you can frequently slip through trees at a breathtaking rate of descent! And Apex is not lacking in facility expansion either. About $20 million are currently being spent at the hill base to provide more on hill accomodation, dining and apres ski entertainment. The treat to access along Green Mountain road appears to have been solved and it is business as usual for the 1997 - 1998 ski season. For more information call 1-250-292-8111 or accomodations toll free at 1-800-387-2739.
Some Apex Mountain Statistics are;
Base Elevation:- 1,575 meters (5,197 feet), Summit Elevation:- 2,178 meters (7,187 feet), Vertical:- 605 meters (2,000 feet), Number of Runs:- 56, Longest Run:- 5 kilometers (3 miles), Lifts & Capacity:- 1 high speed quad, 1 triple, 1 T-bar, 1 platter, Skiable Terrain:- 550 acres, Terrain Mix:- Novice 16%, Intermediate 48%, Advanced 18%, Expert 18%.
Your comments are welcome at dhaaheim at telus dot netHttp://www.tourcanada.com -- Revised: December 4, 1997