The soul of skiing is alive and well at Murray Ridge

 

The soul of skiing is alive and well at Murray Ridge

By DOC POW

Fort St James, BC – The soul of skiing is more than alive and well in pretty much the geographical centre of British Columbia, at a destination you need to put on your radar – Murray Ridge Ski Hill and Terrain Park.

It’s said it takes a village to raise a child. The same theory absolutely applies for ski hills, as without a “village” (aka community support), you really don’t have a venue.

Ski Murray Ridge, Stay Fort St. James. Learn more here.

Founded by the community in the 70s, over these past 40 odd years, that village support has only strengthened. Wait till you get a load of how big this place is. Murray Ridge has the highest vertical of any of the ski hills in the north and the runs are named after powder pioneers, the families who supported its launch and who are still very much a part of Murray’s present history.

For me, Murray Ridge is a place that takes you back to the essence of what skiing and snowboarding destinations are supposed to be, community first and a place to connect. A ski school that is run entirely by volunteers fueled by other local support, including labour donations that put people in the bush through the summer, thinning trees and clearing brush in an effort to make your ski experience something to write home about.

Skiing at Murray Ridge
Photographer
Doc Pow

Murray Ridge Ski Area is now in its 40th year of operation

On our recent #SkiNorthBC adventure, we ripped the ridge, soaking in striking views, sliding through forests chocked full of POW and Old Man’s Beard (moss) indicating some stellar air quality. You are in the District of Bulkley-Nechako, home to winter outdoor awesome.

Explore the Ridge with people like ski school instructor, Izzy Willick, whose husband’s logging company donated the labour and the equipment to get the job done back in 1976, opening the doors on a ski hill that puts Fort St James onto any serious snow seeker's map.

“The 'Community First' approach is how it still happens around here today. If we didn’t have a soul, we wouldn’t be functioning, we know we're not a Whistler, but if we didn’t have the community supporting us, we wouldn’t be here,” explains Willick.

The strategy here at Murray isn’t about how much money they can make off their patrons’ backs, it’s about feeding the stoke of the sport and ensuring as many people as possible can come shred some gnar.

As a board we have saw the benefit of continuing to keep prices affordable for families,” said Murray Ridge's general manager, Jana Gainor. “We want to see as many people as possible come up and uncover this little gem we have here.”

Tbar at Murray Ridge
Photographer
Doc Pow

One Tbar will score you a run of over 1,700 vertical feet

Fort St. James or the area of Fort St. James has been home to people for many millennia. First by the Dakelh First Nations people and when explorer, Simon Fraser showed up around 1803 and built the first fort, by settlers and explorers who moved into the area. The fort was re-built in the 1890s and is available for tours through the Fort St James National Historic Site.

Fort Saint James National Historic Site
Photographer
Nancy Shields

Explore History at the Fort St James National Historic Site

The Community First approach is not just found on Murray’s slopes, but is weaved throughout the destination. There are only a handful of snow destinations across Western Canada that offer downhill and Nordic skiing right from the same location and Murray Ridge is one of them. Once finished on the downhill, we went over and explored 15 kms of track set skiing through one of the world’s largest Boreal forests. You can also jump on your sled and uncover 200kms of snowmobile trails managed by the Fort St James snowmobile club. Both the sledding and the Nordic skiing trails are operated by, you guessed it, a very engaged community base.

Skiing at Murray Ridge nordic center
Photographer
Nancy Shields

Enjoy night or day Nordic skiing just steps away from the ski hill

Fort St. James may be a place you might not have considered in the past as a destination, but if you are looking to experience the soul of skiing, you’ve just uncovered your next EPIC adventure.

When You Go

In this Facebook live we show you why you’ll want to “Ride the Ridge”

Get a sense of the community, head over to the Murray Ridge Facebook page and set your compass for a destination that cares.

As mentioned it takes a community, found here.

Know where you are headed. Learn more about the area.

For all your Travel Northern BC details, the folks from Northern BC Tourism can help make the planning process smooth. 

Learn more about what B.C. has in store for you this winter by searching #SkiNorthBC or visit our  #SkiNorthBC expedition page , where more stories and videos will be coming out all season long.

Destination
Murray Ridge Ski Area
Community
Fort St. James
Region
Northern British Columbia
Province
British Columbia