A powderful family getaway to SilverStar
Giant, fluffy flakes twirl down from a darkening sky as we glide toward Wild Horseman’s Cabin for a warming cup of hot chocolate, much to my kids’ delight.
“This is winter,” Bennett declares, nestled under a blanket between his big sister Avery and me, on an après-ski sleigh ride.
I’ve come to SilverStar Mountain Resort from Kelowna, just over an hour’s drive away, with my husband Blake and two school-age kids for a winter attitude adjustment. We’re tired of bare grass and valley gloom; we want to embrace the snowy wonderland that exists 1,200 metres up in the Monashee Mountains.
We plan to drop skis-first into the season by schussing the resort’s four mountain faces, and then sleigh riding, fat biking and hot tubbing, all while the white stuff falls on the slopes and between the colourful Victorian-style houses and buildings that make up the village of this former mining town-turned-ski mecca.
SilverStar’s village is situated mid-mountain so it’s hard to get a sense of the resort’s vast terrain – over 3,200 acres of steeps, groomers and perfectly-spaced glades, plus a learning area called The Zone – unless you ski it. Plus, it’s often socked in and snowing (SilverStar averages 700 cm, or 23 feet, of light Okanagan powder every season), which can happily obscure visibility.
The compact base area makes it easy to get into gear, collect our lift passes, and click in for some warm-up laps on the moving carpet for Bennett’s benefit – our reluctant skier needs to practice his “pizzas” (slang for snowplow) before we drop him off for an afternoon lesson with SilverStar Adaptive Snow Sports. Bennett has autism, and the organization offers instruction to kids and adults who can’t participate in regular lessons due to a mental or physical disability.
We’ve all developed quite a thirst by the time Edgar and Frank, two burly Percheron horses, pull up to take us on the sleigh ride. Afterward, those pretty snowflakes continue falling as we check in to Silver Creek Lodge, our ski-in/ski-out accommodation, and they keep accumulating while we soak our weary limbs in one of two rooftop hot tubs. The snow follows us down to dinner at The Bulldog Café, and it finally stops past midnight, leaving a 13-centimetre-deep mantle of downy white covering everything.
Early the next morning Blake and I tackle some of SilverStar’s 15 km of fat bike trails on a couple of Fatboy bikes. It feels like trying to cycle in sand as my tires sink into the soft snow. My blood is pumping in no time. It’s fun and, I have to admit, feels a bit rock star to have skiers pointing at us and saying, “Wow! Are those fat bikes?!” But we agree powder mornings are best suited for sliding, not pedalling.
They say there are no friends on a powder day, but clearly that adage doesn’t apply at SilverStar. We discover so many untouched snow caches all over the mountain as we drop into Putnam Creek on the backside, down steeps including Holy Smokes and Paradise Glades – it’s as if the locals have purposely saved some virgin snow for us.
We end the day back in Silver Woods, slaloming past spruce trees and sending sprays of sugary snow into the frosty air. I wish I could say we had a chance to go sledding at Tube Town or skating at Brewer’s Pond, but when the snow’s that good you ski till the last chair.
If you go
Check out the specials and ski packages at SilverStar
Fly to Kelowna direct from many Canadian cities including Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, then hop on the shuttle (or rent a car) and ski the same day.
SilverStar’s My1Pass gives you access to the downhill runs, plus Tube Town and the multi-use fat bike, snowshoe and cross-country ski trails.
If you’re visiting for more than five days check out the Ultimate Rental Package. It lets you exchange skis for a snowboard or even a fat bike as many times as you want.