High speed chairlifts and gondolas hurry us to ridges and mountain tops so we can leisurely push off to explore powder-filled chutes or groomed runs. We take for granted the snowmaking, the lifts and the easy access to so much terrain that was inaccessible 50 years ago.
Before there was Whistler and before there was Big White or Fernie there were entrepreneurs, adventurers and volunteers who trekked the back country on snowshoes and wooden cross country skis in search of the perfect terrain. They stood at the base of mountains and said, "I think there is potential for some kickass trails."
Who cut the trails for Murray Ridge near Ft. St. James? Who thought it was possible to ski on an old mine near Kimberley? And who decided to build a ski town on an old dump? The ski resorts in British Columbia have some pretty cool histories. Check them out here and add them to your list of places to go.
Below is a collection of stories showcasing some history to BC's ski resorts. Challenge yourself to visit a few of BC’s “off the beaten path” ski resorts via our SnowSeekers Challenge. Click here and you can win as well!
The slopes at Whistler were the first to open 50 years ago with perfect trails to bring smiling skiers to the base. Years later when Blackcomb cranked up the lifts they also cranked up the attitude, allowing rowdy boarders and partiers to ski the spidery trails. The competition was legendary. Find out how Whistler Backcomb finally managed to become Canada's biggest alpine resort.
Back in the 1960s when google was goggles spelt wrong, two friends spent countless days searching the mountains beyond Kelowna for the perfect ski hill. Hiking, back-country skiing and eventually flying found the perfect slopes. Planning a 56 kilometre road from Kelowna was tough but as soon as the word got out about the epic snow blanketing never-ending glades, Big White was on the map. Discover how Big White Resort blazed new trails here.
Who would have thought that a cranky horse in 1858 could lead to naming rivers and resorts! The Kicking Horse story is legendary and so is the snow. Find out how the community run Whitetooth Mountain ski hill near Golden B.C. became Kicking Horse Mountain Resort - the powder-hound haven it is today.
The stash of powder in the glades at Kimberley is not the stash the prospectors were looking for a century ago. Back then, it was seams of a mineral called Galena that had them trudging through the snow. They hit pay dirt but it didn’t last long. Find out how close they were to the motherlode and how the mining industry shaped the friendly Kimberley Alpine Resort.
Wouldn't it be cool to stand at the top of a mountain with a role of flagging tape in your hand then head down the slope to mark the runs for a new ski resort? That’s what Bruce Johnson of Williams Lake did in 1987. He’s still skiing at Mount Timothy, 66 kilometres south of Williams Lake today. Did he pick the right lines? Find out what makes the glades of Mount Timothy Resort so special.
Here’s an idea. Suggest to the local logging companies they can have the timber from a thickly forested mountainside for free. All they have to do is log the slope in long lines instead of blocks. You’ll even name the run after them. It worked for the volunteer-run ski resort only ten-minutes from Fort. St. James. Find out other secrets to the success of Murray Ridge.
Troll Ski Resort near Quesnel B.C., has one of the most charming histories of all the resorts in Canada. One man’s dream of building a ski resort - by hand - has brought joy to thousands of people who love the local hill. It’s a story of love, hardship, friendship, sadness and rebirth. "Hello…, Hollywood? The story about Troll Ski Resort is one you need."
Park the car at Sun Peaks Resort and it’s parked for the entire holiday. From day one - as Tod Mountain this resort had a friendly vibe. But when the new owners invited some celebrity ski personalities to help design what is now Sun Peaks Resort in the 1990’s it transformed into an international gathering place for winter and summer vacationers to stroll without any need for a car. Check out the story of the creation of Sun Peaks Resort.
Fernie is a fantastic little ski town in the southeast corner of B.C. It started out in the late 1880’s as a mining town in a valley known for massive amounts of snow. But what is the reason behind the annual 11 metres of snow? Some say it’s the weather pattern. Other say it’s all because of a mad mountain man. Either way, the ski and snowboard resort offers up some sweet terrain to play in. Discover the history of Fernie Alpine Resort here and decide for yourself. Nature? Or the Griz!
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