Finding the spirit of Murray Ridge on the slopes

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The longest T-Bar in North America. Check. A volunteer-run snowboard and ski school. Check. And one of the coziest lodges anywhere. Check. Welcome to the best-kept secret in B. C.’s north – Murray Ridge Ski Resort & Terrain Park – that easily ticks off all the boxes for your next skiing or riding adventure. 

Watch Finding the spirit of Murray Ridge on the slopes on YouTube.

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

But first, here's a little history lesson about how this resort was founded. Back in the ‘70s, an avid outdoor adventurer and explorer named Richard Haslinger was prospecting the Fort St. James area for minerals. He realized his hometown had a sports store, but no ski hill to support it. With a skiing background in Europe, Haslinger knew how important it was for the younger generation to have local and quick access to outdoor winter mountain sports.

Murray Ridge SkiNorthBC
Photo: Jeremy Allen

Fort St. James is a town founded on logging and mining, but was missing was a ski resort, and Haslinger could see the perfect lone mountain visible from the town to carve one out. Haslinger understood that to keep people in the community it needed a hub for outdoor recreation. So, he got busy rallying the town to work on the idea of building a resort where locals and people from the surrounding area could come and play in the heaps of snow this area enjoys every winter.  

Murray Ridge SnowSeekers
Photo: Jeremy Allen

As word spread about the resort, local companies and individuals started donating their time towards the construction of what is known today as Murray Ridge Ski Resort. No one asked for money in return. It was a remarkable community effort that makes Fort St. James so unique. You could say the resort is the heart and soul of the community.

We spoke with Richard Haslinger’s son, Richard, who told us a bit more about the construction of the resort, explaining that a sporting goods store, logging contractors and sawmill operators all banded together to build the resort. “(It) all came together on a volunteer basis,” he said. 

Murray Ridge
Photo: Jeremy Allen

The senior Hasslinger passed away in 2019, and in his honour a shrine was placed in the lodge, a reminder of his legacy. “To this day, the town treasures that community feature of the town, and the ski club keeps ticking,” said Haslinger’s son. Of course, the senior Haslinger has a sweet black ski run named after him.

Murray Ridge
Photo: Jeremy Allen

From the town of Fort St. James, you can see the protruding ridge that rises from the valley and stands alone. We were lucky enough to have Dan, Gary and Jeff take us out for a full day’s shred to experience the "soulful turns" that Murray Ridge is known for.

We got off the beaten path to find fresh stashes of snow that we painted all day long. My day was made even more epic because I had the benefit of some locals who couldn’t wait to show off their hill to me, not a bit worried about sharing their snow.

Murray Ridge
Photo: Jeremy Allen

You could say the spirit of skiing here at Murray Ridge stems from one man’s vision for the next generation to have a place to enjoy the natural beauty and epic skiing in this area. But the real charm of Murray Ridge is that you feel like you’ve gone back to the roots of skiing – a sport that brings people together and letting them forget about the stresses of daily life. After all, this resort was built by people who didn’t worry about getting paid for their efforts, passing on to the next generation a chance to get outdoors and blast through the powder on perfect days.

Murray Ridge
Photo: Jeremy Allen

My time riding the ridge and hanging out at one of the most welcoming lodges I’ve ever been in left me feeling right at home here. I was surrounded by people who don’t take for granted the spectacular hill they have in their backyard and how a community built it together to make it happen.

When You Go

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

It takes a community; find out more 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 go smoothly. 

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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.

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