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British Columbia Superb Facilities And Favorable Exchange Rates Send American Skiers Across The Border

Sun., Nov. 19, 1995

The ski resorts in southern British Columbia have always attracted customers from Washington and Oregon because of their proximity, hospitality and diverse terrain.

Skiers living in the Spokane/Coeur d’Alene area are only a few hours from many resorts near the international border. Each mountain offers something for everyone, regardless of skiing experience and ability level.

Snowboarders are welcomed at all the mountains, and most of the ski areas have a designated snowpark and/or half-pipe for boarders.

The resorts usually do not offer a price reduction for weekdays, as do many of the U.S. ski areas in the Inland Northwest, but there are discounts for half-day lift tickets. Unless otherwise noted, children 6 and under ski free.

Most ski areas can provide private or group lessons for all ages and skier/snowboarder abilities. Free guided mountain tours are offered at many resorts.

Here is a brief description of 12 ski resorts in southern British Columbia. The prices are listed in approximate U.S. dollars and include the Canadian Goods and Services Tax.

Whistler Resort

The mountain north of Vancouver is a long day’s drive from our region, but it offers more than 100 marked runs and unlimited skiing in seven alpine bowls and one glacier. Thirteen lifts provide access to the 3,657 skiable acres.

Snow Country magazine has named Whistler the best ski resort in North America for four consecutive years.

There is a large selection of onmountain lodging at this worldrenowned complex. A multitude of guest services are available, ranging from snowshoeing to flightseeing.

Information: Geographic location: 75 miles north of Vancouver. Tentative opening date: Nov. 22.

Lift tickets: The full-day lift rate is $40 for adults (19 and over), $32 for seniors (65 and over), $32 for youths (13-18), and $18 for children (7-12). Whistler does not offer night skiing.

A dual-mountain pass is offered for $41 to skiers wishing to explore both Whister and neighboring Blackcomb Mountain on the same day.

Ski instruction: The resort offers a Ski Scamps Program for children 2-16. The program is an introduction to skiing, coupled with a day of supervision. Whistler’s Ski Esprit Program is designed for skiers who are visiting the two-resort complex for the first time and plan to spend a few days. The program is a combination of instruction and guide to both beginner and intermediate terrain on both mountains. The resort also offers a special snowboarder program.

Nordic skiing: There are 28 kilometers of nordic trails in the Whistler-Blackcomb complex. Part of the trail system has been designed to allow skiers to get to and from the facilities without using their vehicles. A trail fee is charged.

Snow line: (604) 932-4191.

Mountain office: (604) 932-3210.

Blackcomb Mountain

Blackcomb Mountain, adjacent to Whistler, gets about 30 feet of snow each winter to cover its 3,341 skiable acres, which include more than 100 designated runs and lots of open snow fields. Thirteen lift systems (7 are high-speed lifts) quickly spread skiers over the mountain, which also has two glaciers and five open bowls for skiing. The ski mountain has the highest vertical rise (5,280 feet) in North America.

Skiers and boarders can head up to the “Great Beyond” area, which comprises two glaciers and several back bowls, for some uncrowded skiing and boarding enjoyment. A permanent terrain park for snowboarders includes two half-pipes, rails, jumps and obstacles. The board and equipment selection at the rental and retail shops have been increased.

There is a large selection of on-mountain lodging at this first-class resort. Skiers can choose from a host of guest services.

Information: Geographic location: 75 miles north of Vancouver, adjacent to Whistler. Tentative opening date: Nov. 22.

Lift tickets: The full-day lift rate is $40 for adults (19 and over), $29 for seniors (65 and older), $31 for youths (13-18), and $17 for children (7-12). Night skiing is offered on Wednesday and Saturday nights on the Magic Chair. Night rates were not available at press time.

A dual-mountain pass is offered for $41 to skiers wishing to explore both Blackcomb and Whistler mountains on the same day.

Day care: The resort offers limited day care for children ages 18 months to 3 years.

Ski instruction: Kids Kamp for children ages 18 months to 16 years is available. Parents receive pagers while their child is in Kids Kamp, so they can be contacted on the slopes, if necessary.

Blackcomb’s Ski Esprit Program is designed for skiers who are visiting the complex for the first time and plan to spend a few days. The program is a combination of instruction and guide to both beginner and intermediate terrain on both mountains.

Nordic skiing: There are 28 kilometers of nordic trails in the Whistler-Blackcomb resort complex. Part of the trail system has been designed to allow skiers to get to and from the villages’ facilities without using their vehicles. A trail fee is charged.

Snow line: (604) 932-4211.

Mountain office: (604) 932-3141.

Whistler Resort Association (for information about lodging and other activities): (800) WHISTLER

Silver Star Mountain

This is the second-largest ski area in British Columbia. The resort complex has the architectural style of the old Canadian west and is built around the traditions of the 1890s gaslight era.

The mountain offers a 2,500-foot vertical rise and more than 1,000 skiable acres. High-speed quad chairlifts provide access to both sides of the mountain. The Putnam Creek area on the north side of the mountain is called the Valley of Adventure because it is predominantly composed of intermediate and advanced runs. The south slope is called Vance Creek and offers beginner and intermediate terrain.

There are two ski bridges over the roads leading into and out of the colorful western village complex.

Information: Geographic location: 14 miles northeast of Vernon. Tentative opening date: Nov. 17.

Lift tickets: The full-day lift rate is $32 for adults (18-64), $22 for seniors (ages 65-69), $28 for youths (13-17), and $17 for children (6-12).

Night skiing is available Tuesday through Saturday. Night ski tickets are $14 for adults, seniors and youths, and $8 for children.

Ski instruction: Several ski and snowboard packages are offered by the ski school.

Nordic skiing: Fifty kilometers of nordic trails are located in the adjacent Silver Star Provincial Park. A 25 kilometer trail network is located on resort property, of which seven kilometers are lighted for evening skiing. Trail fees are $7 a day for adults and $4 for children.

Snow line: (604) 542-1745.

Mountain office: (604) 542-0224.

Central reservations: (800) 663-4431.

Tourism information: Okanagan-Similkameen Tourism Association, (604) 860-5999; or Vernon Tourism, (604) 542-1415.

Apex Resort

The ski resort is noted for its light, dry powder and great grooming. Apex is said to be located in a sunshine belt in the lower part of the Okanagan Valley, so skiers can expect lots of blue-sky days.

Beginners can enjoy the five-kilometer Grandfather Trail. The mountain has a good selection of intermediate cruising runs. Advanced skiers will find challenging terrain at powder chutes and bowls.

Guest services include snowmobile tours, sleigh rides and ice skating.

Bring your own bunkhouse and park it at the Apex RV Corral for $12 a night. The 38 fully equipped stalls have electrical hook-ups. Hot showers are available.

Information: Geographic location: 21 miles west of Penticton. Tentative opening date: Thanksgiving weekend

Lift tickets: The full-day lift rate is $29 for adults (ages 19-64), $18 for seniors (65 and older), $23 for teens (13-18), and $16 for juniors (ages 8-12).

Night skiing is offered on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday throughout the season. During the Christmas holidays and the spring break period for British Columbia schools, the mountain will offer night skiing every day. Rates are $8 for adults and teens, and $6 for seniors and juniors.

Day care: Apex has a licensed child care program for children ages 18 months to 12 years.

Ski instruction: The Apex Kids Club starts children skiing right, and they have fun at the same time. Several instruction packages are offered to adults who want to improve their skiing or boarding.

Nordic skiing: Nordic skiers can use an extensive network of trails maintained by the district forest service in the Nickel Plate Lake area. Trail use is by donation. A free 12-kilometer trail network in Apex Village is groomed and track set. It has a lighted 1-km loop.

Snow line: (604) 492-2929, extension 2000.

Mountain office: (604) 492-2880.

Central reservations: (800) 387-2739.

Tourism information: Okanagan-Similkameen Tourism Association, (604) 860-5999; or Penticton Tourism, (604) 493-4055.

Big White

The ski area is the highest resort in British Columbia, receiving lots of dry powder snow for its long season.

As its name implies, Big White is “big” on terrain choices. The mountain has ski areas for all ability levels and interests. There are moguls, powder chutes, open bowls and well-groomed beginner and intermediate runs for cruising. The Whitefoot Bowl has 75 acres of powder chutes, glades and open bowl area. The mountain has eight extreme (65-degree and steeper) runs.

The resort has a large selection of accommodations and several special package offerings.

Information: Geographic location: 33 miles east of Kelowna. Tentative opening date: Thanksgiving weekend.

Lift tickets: The full-day lift rate is $32 for adults (18-64), $23 for seniors (65-69), $27 for youths (13-17), and $17 for juniors (6-12).

Night skiing is offered Tuesdays through Saturdays, Dec. 15 through March 30. Rates are $12 for adults and youths, and $9 for seniors and juniors.

Day care: Day care services are available for children ages 18 months to 6 years.

Ski instruction: The KinderSki program is for children 3-5. The Kid Klub program is for children 4-14. Packages that include lessons, equipment and lunch are available.

Nordic skiing: The 25 kilometers of nordic trails on the mountain are free. The trails are groomed for skating.

Snow line: (604) 765-7669.

Mountain office: (604) 765-3101.

Visitor information: Okanagan-Similkameen Tourism Association, (604) 860-5999; or Kelowna Visitor & Convention Bureau, (604) 862-5060.

Red Mountain

The ski area’s terrain covers two mountain peaks, where skiers can refine their alpine skills for fun and racing. From the top of the Granite Chairlift, beginners can circle the mountain and glide down Long Squaw and Easy Street. The longest groomed, beginner run stretches for 4-1/2 miles.

The resort offers a good mix of intermediate runs. On the low end of the continuum, Southern Comfort is wide, long and well-groomed. At the high end, Upper and Lower Back Trail are shorter and steeper but are also well-groomed.

Advanced skiers can choose from a multitude of steep mogul fields, gladed tree slopes and deep powder chutes. There are plenty of opportunities for off-trail skiing, including 800 acres of tree skiing.

The mountain and Rossland lodgings offer attractive ski-and-stay packages.

Information: Geographic location: 1 mile north of Rossland. Tentative opening date: Thanksgiving weekend.

Lift tickets: Prices are the same as last year. The full-day lift rate is $27 for adults (19 and older), $18 for seniors (65 and older), $23 for students (13-18), and $15 for juniors (7-12). The mountain does not have night skiing.

Day care: Day care facilities can accept children ages 18 months and up.

Nordic skiing: A nordic ski trail system is located below the mountain. The trail system is operated by the Blackjack Nordic Club, and daily trail fees are charged for non-members.

Snow line: (604) 362-5500 or (509) 459-6000 in Spokane.

Mountain office: (604) 362-7384.

Central reservations: (800) 663-0105.

Visitor information: Rossland Chamber of Commerce, (604) 362-5666.

Whitewater

This ski hill is tucked away in the Selkirk mountains of southeastern British Columbia, where it receives an average of 22 feet of dry snow each winter. It received international attention after being used as a location by ski film producer Warren Miller.

The community ski hill’s signature is the Ymir Bowl. Skiers must put on skins and ski up to the bowl to sample the deep, cold-smoke powder.

Whitewater has a continuum of groomed runs for beginners, so they can advance to more challenging terrain as their skill level improves.

There is a good selection of lift and lodging packages offered in nearby Nelson.

Information: Geographic location: 13 miles south of Nelson. Tentative opening date: early December.

Lift tickets: The full-day lift rate is $26 for adults (19 and older), $21 for seniors (65 and older), $21 for youths (13-18), and $16 for juniors (7-12). There is no night skiing at Whitewater.

Day care: Day care facilities can accept children 2 and older.

Nordic skiing: The Nelson Nordic Touring Center is located below the access road leading to the ski hill. The 25-kilometer trail network is a community project. A trail fee is charged.

Snow line: (604) 352-7669.

Mountain office: (604) 354-4944.

Visitor Information: Kootenay Country Tourism Association, (604) 352-6033.

Fernie Snow Valley

The ski area sits on the northeast slope of the Lizard Mountains and boasts a long season because of its shaded northern exposure. Two large open bowls and acres of tree skiing complement the groomed runs.

Black diamond lovers will welcome the challenges offered on this mountain. Some runs are rated “extreme” because of their vertical drop down steep and narrow chutes.

Cedar and Lizard bowls offer beginner and intermediate trails for those skiers wanting to leave groomed runs and enter knee-deep powder for short distances. The powdered slopes are bordered by groomed trails, so skiers can readily ski in and out of the powder.

The mountain offers a free ski check during the day; $2 a pair for overnight storage. RV parking (with electrical hookup) is available for $9 a night.

Information: Geographic location: 3 miles from downtown Fernie. Tentative opening date: Dec. 1.

Lift tickets: The full-day lift rate is $26 for adults (19 and older), $20 for seniors (65 and older), $20 for juniors (13-18), and $9 for children (7-12).

Day care: Day care is available for infants to age 6 for $3 an hour.

Ski instruction: The Kids Only Ski School costs $34 for all-day supervision and lessons. The Adult Improvement Sessions costs $19 for a group 2-hour lesson.

Nordick skiing: The resort’s free 10-kilometer trail network is located at the base of the mountain.

Snow line: (604) 423-3555.

Mountain office: (604) 423-4655.

Visitor information: Rocky Mountain Visitor Association, (604) 427-4838.

Kimberley Ski and Summer Resort

Kimberley’s runs sit on North Star Mountain, once a lead and zinc mine. The ski runs are named after old mining claims.

The front side of the mountain facing east has most of the beginner and intermediate trails. Sixty percent of the runs on the mountain are rated for intermediate skiers. Grooming on these runs is so superb that most beginners can quickly advance to the intermediate slopes. The North Bowl on the back side of the mountain has intermediate and advanced runs.

Slopeside condominiums and Kimberley lodging facilities offer a range of accommodations for all budgets.

Information: Geographic location: 1 mile north of Kimberley. Tentative opening date: Dec. 2.

Lift tickets: The full-day lift rate is $25 for adults (19-59), $18 for seniors (60 and older), $20 for students (13-18), and $12 for children (9-12). Children 8 and under ski free.

Night skiing is offered Tuesdays through Saturdays. Rates are $8 for adults and students, and $5 for seniors and children.

Day care: Day care is available for children 18 months to 6 years, for $3 an hour or $21 for a day.

Ski instruction: The Kimberley Kruisers program is for children 6-12. Participants receive a three-hour ski clinic and lunch. It is a good introduction to the mountain for children who have never skied at Kimberley.

Nordic skiing: Nordic skiers can enjoy 26 kilometers of groomed, double-tracked (with a skating lane in the middle) trails. Three kilometers are lighted for night skiing. There is an honor box for trail fees.

Snow line: (604) 427-4881.

Mountain office: (604) 427-4881.

Visitor information: Rocky Mountain Visitor Association, (604) 427-4838.

Ski Whitetooth

The community ski area is noted for its excellent black diamond powder runs and well-groomed beginner and intermediate trails. The hill is owned by the regional district and operated by the Whitetooth Ski Society.

The lift system and beginner runs were especially designed for families with small children who are learning to ski. The 5,000-foot-long Pioneer chairlift is equipped with warm seat pads and safety guards with footrests.

Lodging is available in Golden.

Information: Geographic location: 60 miles north of Radium Hot Springs, at Golden. Tentative opening date: Dec. 8

Lift tickets: Full-day adult (19-60) tickets are $19. Youths (13-18) and seniors (61 and older) are $14, and children (6-12) are $9.

Day care: none.

Ski instruction: none.

Nordic skiing: none.

Snow line: (604) 344-6114.

Mountain office: (604) 344-6114.

Visitor information: Rocky Mountain Visitor Association, (604) 427-4838.

Panorama

Panorama is located high in the Purcell Mountains near Invermere, offering a 4,300-foot vertical rise.

Short lift lines, great dry powder and diverse terrain have made Panorama a popular mountain. It has a good reputation for challenging expert terrain and long, groomed cruising runs.

Snow Country magazine now ranks Panorama among the top five Canadian ski resorts, based on its amenities, vertical rise, on-mountain accommodations for over 1,200 people, extensive snowmaking, and newly expanded advanced terrain.

Information: Geographic location: 20 miles southwest of Invermere. Tentative opening date: Dec. 9.

Lift tickets: The full-day lift rate is $32 for adults (19 and older), $24 for seniors (65 and older) and teens (15-18), $16 for juniors (9-14), and $5 for children (8 and under). Panorama does not offer night skiing.

Day care: The Snowbirds Child Care Center can accept children 18 months and older. Infants can be accepted with prior reservations.

Ski instruction: A two-day adult (never-skiied) program is $60, which includes six hours of lessons.

The Learn to Ride program is a snowboarding introduction class for $52 for three hours of instruction. Snowboard rental is included.

Nordic skiing: Panorama has 22 kilometers of free nordic trails.

Snow line: (604) 342-6941.

Mountain office: (604) 342-6941.

Central reservations: (800) 663-2929.

Visitor information: Rocky Mountain Visitor Association, (604) 427-4838.

Fairmont Ski Area

Groomed runs are available for beginners and intermediates, and black diamond pitches and moguls can be enjoyed by advanced skiers. Skiers can show their lift tickets to gain free entry to the public hot springs after a day of skiing.

Information: Geographic location: at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. Tentative opening date: midDecember.

Lift tickets: Prices are the same as last year. The full-day lift rate is $18 for adults (15 and older), $8 for seniors (65 and older), and $12 for juniors (7-14). Night skiing may be offered for a five-week period beginning in late January, but details were not available at press time.

Day care: none.

Nordic skiing: The resort has 20 kilometers of free groomed nordic trails. Nordic skiers also can pay $3 and ride the alpine chairlift to access a higher elevation and long run.

Snow line: (604) 345-6311.

Mountain office: (604) 345-6311.

Visitor information: Rocky Mountain Visitor Association, (604) 427-4838.

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: BEST DEALS Good deals in British Columbia Whistler/Blackcomb A dual-mountain pass for $41 allows skiers and boarders to explore both mountains in one day.

Silver Star The Ski Free Program will be in effect from Nov. 20 through Dec. 22. Skiers who stay a minimum of three nights (Sunday-Thursday) at on-mountain hotels can ski free each day of their stay. In January, the mountain will offer three ski improvement weeks. Skiers who stay in on-mountain lodges for five nights (Sunday-Thursday) receive a free daily ski lesson.

Big White Three special packages are being offered this season. The Super Saver starts at $42, January Getaways start at $51, and Midwinter Magic Ski starts at $60. These programs include lift ticket, accommodations, daily ski improvement session, free night skiing, and 20 percent off breakfast and rentals. Kids 12 and under stay free. The rates are per person, based on double occupancy.

Red Mountain A two-day ski/two-night stay package starts as low as $61 per person (based on double occupancy) during the regular season.

Whitewater Several Nelson lodging properties and the mountain have teamed up to offer a two-night lodging/two-day skiing package for as low as $105 per person.

This sidebar appeared with the story: BEST DEALS Good deals in British Columbia Whistler/Blackcomb A dual-mountain pass for $41 allows skiers and boarders to explore both mountains in one day.

Silver Star The Ski Free Program will be in effect from Nov. 20 through Dec. 22. Skiers who stay a minimum of three nights (Sunday-Thursday) at on-mountain hotels can ski free each day of their stay. In January, the mountain will offer three ski improvement weeks. Skiers who stay in on-mountain lodges for five nights (Sunday-Thursday) receive a free daily ski lesson.

Big White Three special packages are being offered this season. The Super Saver starts at $42, January Getaways start at $51, and Midwinter Magic Ski starts at $60. These programs include lift ticket, accommodations, daily ski improvement session, free night skiing, and 20 percent off breakfast and rentals. Kids 12 and under stay free. The rates are per person, based on double occupancy.

Red Mountain A two-day ski/two-night stay package starts as low as $61 per person (based on double occupancy) during the regular season.

Whitewater Several Nelson lodging properties and the mountain have teamed up to offer a two-night lodging/two-day skiing package for as low as $105 per person.


 

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