WinterFest in Fort St. James Will Win You Over

Editor's note: With the unpredictability of COVID-19, some 2020-'21 events are up in the air. Be sure to watch the local organizers' websites for the latest updates. 

#SkiNorthBC welcomes winter travellers into communities across B.C.’s north to make the most of your experiences. Tag us with #SkiNorthBC to see what’s in store for you. Your adventures may be featured on our social media feeds. 

Doc Pow and Marty Clemens for #SkiNorthBC

It’s not every day someone heads to the middle of B.C. to experience Fort St. James and a ski hill with soul, aka, @MurrayRidge. But WinterFest is happening through February and that made us want to check it out, so SnowSeekers dispatched Smithers-based photographer Marty Clemens to learn what this festival is all about.

“A whole lot of soul,” is what I found when I first went to Murray Ridge and the community of the Fort. Every year they celebrate winter with a fun-for-all festival that includes curling and skijoring, which the Wall Street Journal describes as the “wildest winter sport you’ve never heard of.”

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

Watch The soul of skiing is alive and well at Murray Ridge in Fort St James #SkiNorthBC on YouTube.

Clemens found that same energetic vibe on his recent visit and easily scored some stellar photos here that will get you stoked. WinterFest happens through Feb, including Retro Days up at Murray Ridge on Feb. 22. 

Clemens, who’s lived in the Kootenays for a long time, has checked out just about every ski destination in B.C., from the coast to the interior. “For me when I compare Murray Ridge to some of these other locations, the big thing that comes through is the appreciation that the locals have of this mountain. It’s hard to sum up, but the local vibe is strong here.” The other thing that impressed Clemens was all of the terrain options, even though there is only one T-bar.

Photo: Marty Clemens

Sure, Murray Ridge may have one T-bar, but as you can see here the skiable options will keep you snow seeking all day.

A Community in Motion

Clemens went into the festival not knowing what he’d discover. “I was really impressed around the WinterFest experience, a strong community feel. You could definitely get a sense that people were out and enjoying the festivities.”

Photo: Marty Clemens

Let your imagination run wild in the costume department before curling. 

Curling in costume anyone? WinterFest runs all through February in Fort St. James.

Even though this is a community of fewer than 2,000 people, it’s clear that everyone comes together to make this event happen, which has events happening just about every day of the month.

Photo: Marty Clemens

Skijoring is a rad sport, where skiers get pulled by dogs, and sometimes horses. 

Have you tried skijoring yet?

Photo: Marty Clemens

Vistas for miles out on the lake.

The lake here is massive, giving you an idea of just how big the terrain is around here.

Cheers to Fort St. James

Murray Ridge keeps it local with Barkerville Brewery on tap, where you’ll find people enjoying a beverage outside on the patio. “They have a decent little deck on the side of the day lodge that looks directly up to the park and the T-bar,” says Clemens. It is the perfect spot for a pint in the sun.

Photo: Marty Clemens

There's nothing better than a sunny day on the patio at Murray Ridge. 

Explore the region’s history not just on skis, but by hanging out on the patio enjoying a local brew.

“I really like the view – you can see the lake country in the background – and because you can see from the top a 360-view showing you the vastness of the area,” says Clemens.

When You Go

Learn about the soul of skiing that is alive and well @MurrayRidgeclick here.

Connect with FestivalSeekers for the schedule of WinterFest festivities.

Have a read this recent Murray Ridge story? It will give you an idea what you’re in for on your next #SkiNorthBC adventure.

Like this story? Make sure to Tweet it.

Marty Clemens is an accomplished photographer who is making it happen for himself and his family up in #SkiNorthBC territory. When are you going to get the chance to experience the North? Let us know what you find and use the tag #SkiNorthBC or #MurrayRidge to be featured on SnowSeekers.

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