Shredding it up backcountry style at Shames
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TERRACE, B.C. - Big, deep and kind take on a new meaning here. Cool vibes draw you into Shames Mountain Ski Area, where the parking lot attendant greets you with big smiles and blaring classic rock tunes.
Welcome to this world that brings out your inner child to explore from the lifts some of the best easily accessed backcountry touring anywhere.
Going over the edge
Leaving the ski area boundary, we head upwards through a blown-in boot pack, the snow swirling around a thumping wind. This is what the locals know to be the norm - deep, blower pow, for your delight.
Taking a look at the ski touring map, you can easily picture yourself enjoying a lifetime of options further afar. Or, you could be easily entertained with yo-yo laps for hours, right from the top of the lift. Sure, this place has a good offering of cruisers, in-bound glades, moguls, groomed runs, in addition some steeps and a terrain park. But hands down, the draw is one of North America's best lift-accessed backcountry ski touring.
Where snow is measured in feet
I drop into a slot between two perfectly spaced big trees, trackless, light. It was like being inside a snow globe, the snow powders over top of our helmets, as we pop out onto the cat track to repeat.
"Weather happens big time here", says Christian Theberge, general manager of Shames Mountain.
"We offer great value for our local community, a place where they can start their skiing and riding tradition, a nice variety of runs, and super friendly atmosphere", he says.
"But it is the incredible amount of snow and side-country skiing that sets us apart, compared to other places in Canada. Hands down some of the best backcountry terrain, and our lifts make it easy to enjoy 1,500 feet of vertical runs ... in a paradise all day long."
Home of a champion
You can't miss the big smile and laughs, of Caleb Brousseau, who grew up in nearby Terrace, learned how to ski and ride on these family-friendly slopes. His laps were learned on the antique chairlift and t-bar, day in and day out, from sunrise, to sunset. No wonder this kid was hooked on this sport.
Caleb, went on to win a bronze medal at the Sochi 2014 Olympics. Winning the medal inspired many others to get into the sport. But hanging out with this guy, sporting a contagious smile and a super friendly personality, you can tell he loves his community. When he's not playing fetch in the parking lot, laughing, and getting ready for a day of ripping, you'll find him in the trees, ripping and slashing powder, and impossible to catch.
"After all that training and commitment to my sport, it is so cool to be here. Shames is my hometown hill, it offers some of the deepest snow, I have ever seen, and it has hands down some of the best side country offering anywhere", says Brousseau.
Powder with easy access
Shames Mountain is a 30-minute drive from Terrace. It is operated as the first community co-operative ski area in Canada. It's easy to find parking close to the chairlift, and then head out for a day of dropping into gladed, untouched powder stashes right from the unload station of the lift.
One big family here
On weekends, compared to other more well-known ski areas, you can leave crowded slopes behind in favour of high fives and new friends in the big trees and deep snow. The two-storey lodge has a welcome feel, more like a local house party, than a place where you grab a chili lunch and use the bathroom.
You'll meet one of the locals, die-hard, powder lovers who will gladly share local knowledge and snow conditions. You dont have to rush or fight over your powder here. You seem to connect with people here and go enjoy some freshies together.
You might think this is a ski area at end of the road. It could just end, but the community keeps it going with this cool co-operative ski hill, built with hours and hours of volunteer time and mother natures incredible snow. It all adds up to one magical place to visit or stay much longer.
If you go
Check out the conditions at Shames Mountain here http://mymountaincoop.ca
Call Shames at (250) 635-3773
Visit the official Terrace website to learn more about the region.
Fly into Terrace with daily non-stop daily service: http://www.yxt.ca
For all your Travel Northern BC details, the folks from Northern BC Tourism can help make the planning process smooth. http://www.travelnbc.com
Learn more about what BC has in store for you this winter, search #ExploreBC