Vernon is surrounded by a trifecta of skiing options
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By ANDREW PENNER
Vernon, B.C. – After making a dozen fast turns or so on the blue groomer off SilverStar's cloud-smothered summit, I dart into the trees and stop on a knoll to catch my breath. Beside me a dozen “snow ghosts” (trees completely encased in snow) framed a pristine run, gleaming with virgin powder. It's my lucky day. But, to be honest, my luck started with 23 centimeters of fresh stuff overnight. And the simple fact that I was pointing 'em down at SilverStar Mountain Resort near Vernon.
Not surprisingly, I didn't wait on the knoll too long. After all, powder poachers don't rest on their laurels. Plus, the pull of the descent was too strong. So, after choosing a lovely little lane straight down the fall line, I pounced into “powabunga” and played. Because, well, that was my mission during a short-and-sweet visit to Vernon.
Snow ghosts, inversion clouds and plenty of terrain provides some pretty awesome adventures at SilverStar.
While it was tough to beat my epic day at SilverStar – which, at 3,282 acres, is the third largest ski resort in British Columbia – I had another skiing experience in Vernon that, in its own way, was every bit as awesome. Who knew cross-country skiing could be so much fun? Not me.
Until, that is, I spent some time at the Sovereign Lake Nordic Club, which is home to the largest network of cross-country ski trails in Canada. Combined with the connected trails at SilverStar, there are over 105 kilometers of expertly-groomed trails at this Nordic-skiing mecca.
Sovereign Lake features 105kms of World class, daily groomed trails that offer amazing scenery through dense pine forests.
And, perhaps the best part, Sovereign Lake is situated just a couple of kilometers down the road from SilverStar. Perfect if part of your clan needs the thrill of alpine and others prefer the slower speeds of cross-country, this is the perfect scenario. You can all head up the mountain together, revel in your “game,” and still meet up for lunch or an après-ski treat!
A heli trip with Kingfisher means you're exploring the Monashees where the cold pow is untouched by the masses.
To complete the skiing trifecta in the Vernon area, you need to head a little southwest of town to the Predator Ridge Resort, which is the new home of Kingfisher Heli Skiing. For powder poachers seeking the ultimate private, small-group (three skiers and two guides per heli) experience, Kingfisher is the trump card. Boasting an eye-popping 300,000-acre tenure of marvelous Monashee powder, steep chutes and some of the best glade skiing on the planet, Kingfisher is truly in a class of its own.
“Our new partnership with Predator Ridge is a game changer,” says Brock Freathy, assistant manager of Ski Operations at Kingfisher. “Unlike most heli-skiing outfits, we're within minutes of Kelowna’s International Airport. Our guests can land at YLW and be skiing waist-deep powder in the Monashees in a matter of a couple hours.
“For our guests who travel here from around the world, it can amount to two extra days of skiing or two less days of travel, depending on how you want to look at it. And we pay attention to the little details that can make a trip memorable including luxury accommodation, your favourite beverage, local wines, healthy and locally-sourced snacks, the list goes on. And then there’s our terrain...”
Without a doubt, Vernon's ideal setting in the heart of the Okanagan – but in close proximity to the snow-smothered slopes – is also a huge selling point. The historic downtown, which is home to top-notch restaurants and shopping, is the perfect homebase for a ski holiday.
SilverStar offers a number of great eateries for a spot of lunch, including the 1609 Restaurant.
As far as restaurants go, you will not make a wrong turn trying out the Phoenix Steakhouse and Bar. Complete with a rooftop patio (in summer), this is one of the best dining experiences in the Thompson Okanagan. While the steak is sinfully succulent, the halibut is truly heavenly! Regardless of your entrée choices, after a day of skiing with your friends, the Phoenix Steakhouse and Bar is definitely the place to hang your hat.
When You Go
Vernon gets very attractive when you bundle these amenities into your weekend itinerary. Choose somewhere new, get out and uncover what makes this city worth the visit.
Andrew Penner is a freelance writer and photographer based in Calgary. You can follow him on Instagram @andrewpennerphotography.