November 24, 1996

Very Fair Trade Americans Can Make Their Skiing Dollars Go Quite A Distance On British Columbia’s Slopes

Jean Arthur Special To Travel
 
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With the United States-to-Canadian-dollar exchange so favorable - one greenback being worth roughly $1.33 Canadian - U.S. skiers get a lot of mountain for their dollar. And there’s a lot of mountain to be had at the Canadian resorts and ski hills.

Beginning on the western edge, Whistler and Blackcomb mountains offer the most vertical in North America and some of the steepest steeps. Closer to Spokane, Red Mountain and Fernie Snow Valley promise lighter, drier snow and lower prices.

Most British Columbian resorts intend to be open by Dec. 1, but conditions will dictate openings. Skiers are urged to call local snow phones. Note that many of the British Columbia (604) area codes have changed to (250).

Whistler/Blackcomb

Named for a whistling hoary marmot that frequents the region, Whistler is truly a world-class mountain resort with a full-service village, international cuisine and luxury everywhere.

The Whistler/Blackcomb complex is comprised of two very vertical mountains in British Columbia’s Coastal Mountain Range. Snow hits these two mountains early, late and all winter long, leaving skiers with the highest vertical drops on the continent. Whistler’s 5,020 vertical feet and Blackcomb’s 5,280 vertical feet drop skiers down chutes like the Couloir Extreme, or much less intimidating runs for beginners and intermediates.

New at Whistler this year is the Whistler Creekside Gondola, a high-speed, six-passenger gondola car. The Creekside Gondola opens up access to the entire mountain, taking skiers to midmountain where the Red Lion Express loads skier for the top.

New at Blackcomb is the beginner lift at Magical Kids center. It’s a magic carpet ride that’s really a rolling sidewalk. It doubles kids’ sliding time with a gentle glide to the top. King Arthur’s Adventure terrain park lets kids be kids while learning to turn. Blackcomb has also expanded several on-mountain restaurants.

Whistler

Location: Whistler Village is 120 km north of Vancouver, British Columbia Tickets: Duel mountain tickets cost $54 Canadian (about $40.50 U.S.); children (6-12) $30 ($22.50 U.S.); youth $48 ($36 U.S.); senior $44 ($33 U.S.).

Day care: The Nanny Network charges $10 ($7.50 U.S.) per hour. Reservations necessary at (604) 938-2823.

Lessons: Group $40 ($30 U.S.); private $72 ($54 U.S.) per hour.

Nordic: Lost Lake Nordic is groomed more than 28 km. Trail fee $9.75 ($7.50 U.S.) adult, $5 ($3.75 U.S.) juniors.

Phone: (604) 932-3210.

Reservations: (800) WHISTLER.

Snow phone: (604) 932-4191.

E-mail: whistler@whistler.net

Internet: http://www.whistler.net/whistler/

Blackcomb

Tickets: Duel mountain tickets cost $54 ($40.50 U.S.); children (6-12) $30 ($22.50 U.S.); youth $48 ($36 U.S.); senior $44 ($33 U.S.).

Day care: The Nanny Network charges $10 ($7.50 U.S.) per hour. Reservations necessary at (604) 938-2823.

Lessons: Group $40 ($30 U.S.); private $72 ($54 U.S.) per hour.

Nordic: Lost Lake Nordic is groomed more than 28 km. Trail fee $9.75 ($7.50U.S.) adult and $5 ($3.75 U.S.) for juniors.

Phone: (604) 932-3141.

Reservations: (800) WHISTLER.

Snow phone: (604) 932-4211.

Internet: http://www.whistler.net/blackcomb/

Silver Star Mountain

With a place that averages 18 feet of snowfall a winter comes plenty of skiing on what Silver Star says are its 480 hectares (1,200) acres) of skiable terrain. Silver Star, the second largest British Columbia ski area, stepped into the era of high-speed quads a couple years ago, and now offers two speedsters to transport skiers over the 2,500-foot vertical rise. Two other slower model lifts access great skiing as well.

Silver Star skiers never ski on artificial snow, something the locals are proud of. Also Silver Star is rarely burdened with fog. And by mid-October, Silver Star already had a two-foot base.

Location: 285 miles north of Spokane off Highway 97, 12 miles from Vernon.

Tickets: Adult $42 ($31.50 U.S.); youth (13-18) $37 ($27.75 U.S.); child (6-12) $22 ($16.50 U.S.); senior (65-69) $29 ($21.75 U.S.).

Day care: 18 months-8 years $6 ($4.50 U.S.) per hour or $30 ($22.50 U.S.) per day. Reservations required (604) 558-6028.

Lessons: Group $25 ($18.75 U.S.); private $45 ($33.75 U.S.) per hour.

Nordic: Silver Star Mountain’s Cross Country Centre offers 35 km of groomed and tracked trails. Trail fee is $10 ($7.50 U.S.) for an adult ticket and $6 ($4.50 U.S.) for a child pass.

Phone: (604) 542-0224.

Reservations: (800) 663-4431.

Snow phone: 604-250 6020.

E-mail: reserve@junction.net

Internet: http://www.silverstarmtn.com

Apex Resort

If Canada’s Okanagan Valley is blessed with world-renown fruit harvests, it can give credit to the plentiful snow that began falling in October. In the lower Okanagan Valley, skiers at Apex Resort near Penticton expect and receive plenty of snow and sun.

Guests to Apex should join the Apex Mountain Hosts for a free tour of favorite trails. The Hosts leave the Village area at 10 a.m and 1 p.m. daily. After cruising the 56 trails of Apex’s 550 skiable acres, visitors find a nightly parade of activities like sleigh rides, casino nights, back-country snowmobile treks and more. Or they go night skiing on Apex’s slopes or groomed Nordic trails.

Location: located 30 minutes from Penticton.

Tickets: Adult $38 ($28.50 U.S.); teen (13-18) $30 $22.50 U.S.); junior (8-12) $21 ($15.75 U.S.); senior (65+) $24 ($18 U.S.); under 7 free. Multi-day discounts available.

Day care: The KidSpree Vacation Club offers a full program of arts, crafts, movies and special evening excursions for kids age 18 months-12 years for $35 ($26.25 U.S.) per day.

Lessons: Group $25 ($18.75 U.S.); private $40 ($30 U.S.).

Nordic: In Apex Village, 12 km (1 km of night skiing). Free.

Phone: (604) 492-2880.

Reservations: (800) 387-APEX.

Snow phone: (250) 492-2929.

E-mail: www.okres.bc.ca

Big White

Big White is another one of the few ski areas left that does not supplement slopes with snowmaking. No need, because at Big White, a 750 cm snow depth is the average. That’s over 24 feet! Locally they call it “hero snow” because it’s so easy to carve through the light and dry fluff.

This year, Big White is promoting its “Westside Story,” an expansion that includes the development of the Westridge area. A variety of terrain is served by the 12 new runs in the 775 new skiable acres. This Westside Story also includes the new Gem Lake Express high-speed quad, a 32,000 square foot Village Centre Mall, a new Kid’s Centre, night lights for skating and a Teen Activity Centre.

Location: Located 283 miles northwest of Spokane via Highway 395, Canada Highways 3 and 33 at Kelowna

Tickets: Adult $45 ($33.75 U.S.); youth (13-18) $37 ($27.75 U.S.); junior (6-12) $23 ($17.27); senior (65-69) $32 ($24 U.S.). Multi-day pass discounts available.

Day care: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Kid’s Centre for 18 months to 6 years, $8 ($6 U.S.) per hour, $35 ($26.75) per day

Lessons: Group $30 ($22.50 U.S.); private $46 ($34.50 U.S.) per hour.

Nordic: 25 km of Nordic trails are free.

Phone: (250) 765-8888.

Reservations: (800) 663-2772.

Snow phone: (250) 765-7669.

E-mail: bigwhite@silk.net

Internet: http://www.bigwhite.com

Red Mountain

Red Mountain skiers have the advantage of skiing two mountains, Red and Granite. Together they offer 400 acres of groomed terrain and 700 acres of tree skiing. It’s that tree skiing for which Red is known. Challenging and unrivaled, the off-trail stuff is where the locals go on powder days. Red Mountain is one of the oldest and more famous resorts in Canada. It’s the site of the first World Cup race ever held in Canada and the frequent site of the Canadian downhill championships.

That doesn’t leave beginners out in the cold however. The longest run at Red is a 4.5 miler, groomed for beginner turns.

Location: One mile north of Rossland, 125 miles north of Spokane.

Tickets: Adult $38 ($28.50 U.S.); student (13-18) $32 ($24 U.S.); junior (7-12) $20 ($15 U.S.); child under 6 free; senior (65+) $28 ($21 U.S.); single ride $10 ($7.50 U.S.). Multi-day discounts available.

Day care: Current rates not available, but last year’s rate was $3.50 ($2.65 U.S.) per hour.

Lessons: Group $25 ($18.75 U.S.); private $43 ($32.25 U.S.) per hour.

Nordic: Adjacent to Red is the Black Jack Cross Country Area with 50 km of machine-groomed track. Trail pass costs $6 ($4.50 U.S.).

Phone: (250) 362-7384

Reservations: (800) 663-0105 Snow phone: Spokane number (509) 459-6000 or (250) 362-5500.

E-mail: redmtn@awinc.com

Whitewater

In the Selkirk Range of southeastern British Columbia is Whitewater, 13 miles south of Nelson. The Selkirks are best know for the helicopter skiing and little known for the fine skiing at Whitewater, where the base elevation sits at 5,000 feet. The road to the mountain rises some 3,000 feet from Nelson. Drivers should be prepared for hazardous driving conditions.

Most interesting is the skiing in Ymir Bowl where skiers don climbing skins to trudge uphill before skiing downhill (without the skins, of course). It’s not crowded!

Tickets: Adult $34 ($25.50 U.S.); youth (13-18) $27 ($20.25 U.S.); junior 7-12 $21 ($15.75); senior (65+) $27 ($20.25 U.S.).

Day care: 18 months to 6 years, $3 ($2.25 U.S.) per hour.

Lessons: Group $24 ($18 U.S.); private $35 ($26.25 U.S.).

Nordic: at the base of the ski area road at the Nelson Nordic Touring Centre. A trail fee is requested for the 25 km system.

Phone: (250) 354-4944.

Reservations: (800) 666-9420.

Snow phone: (250) 352-7669.

Fernie Snow Valley

They’re called the Lizard Mountains, the craggy range that surrounds Fernie, British Columbia, and offers some of the finest skiing in the region. Of course, Fernie Snow Valley allows skiers to link flawless turns across wide-open slopes. But not many areas have runs like Boomerang Ridge, a bump-till-you-drop exhibitionists’ special.

Since Fernie averages some 350 inches of snowfall, the bowl skiing is legendary. And Fernie shows off its bowl skiing Jan. 18-19 at the annual Powder 8 Championships. New this year is the on-mountain Snowcat Skiing. For $20 skiers get one fantastic guided run into Timber Bowl area, or three runs for $50.

Location: 3 miles from Fernie.

Tickets: Adult $34 ($25.50 U.S.); junior (13-18)/senior (65+) $26 ($19.50 U.S.); child (6-12) $12 ($9 U.S.).

Day care: Infant to 35 months, $5 ($3.75 U.S.) per hour; 3 years and up, $4 ($3 U.S.) per hour. Sibling discount. Reservations suggested.

Lessons: Group $25 ($18.75 U.S.); private $40 ($30 U.S.) per hour.

Nordic: 15 km of trails open in nearby forest.

Phone: (604) 423-4655.

Reservations: (888) SKI-REAL.

Snow phone: Spokane (509) 747-7495 or (604) 423-3555.

E-mail: fsv@elkvalley.net

Internet: www.rockies.net/fsv

Kimberly Ski and Summer Resort

A step into Kimberly Ski and Summer Resort is like a step into Europe. Kimberly is a Bavarian village with warm, hospitable locals who will likely show skiers a favorite run of the 47 to choose from.

At Kimberly, the resort is so confident that the snow conditions will be satisfactory, they guarantee them. If skiers don’t feel the conditions meet their expectations, they can return the lift ticket within one hour of purchase for a snow check.

Much of the mountain is designated intermediate terrain, although the North Bowl offers advanced runs. Expansion plans for 1997 include cutting new runs and adding a new lift in the North Bowl area.

Location: 1 mile north of Kimberly, 210 miles from Spokane.

Tickets: Adult $35 ($26.25 U.S.); college student $30 ($23.25 U.S.); junior (13-18)/senior (60+) $27 ($20.25 U.S.); child (9-12) $15 ($11.25 U.S.); kids 8 and under ski free.

Day care: 18 months to 6 years. Rates start at $4 ($3 U.S.) per hour, max $20 ($15 U.S.) per day per child. Reservations recommended. Call (250) 427-4881.

Lessons: Group $24 ($18 U.S.); private $40 ($30 U.S.) per hour.

Nordic: 26 km of groomed trails; 3.8 km of trail is lit for night skiing. Trail fee is $3 ($2.25 U.S.).

Phone: (250) 427-4881.

Reservations: (800) 667-0871.

Snow phone: (250) 427-7332.

Internet: www.kimberleyski.infopages.com

Panorama

With a 4,300-foot vertical, Panorama near Invermer, British Columbia, offers steeps and deeps for advanced powder hogs. Though skiers can find a variety of tamer terrain, Panorama is best known for it vertical and for its scenery.

New at Panorama this year is the Trappers Ridge run that drops into the Extreme Dream Zone, a black-diamond-rated trail. Also new is another black diamond, Black Bear, a gladed run off the Horizon Chair. Panorama opens Dec. 13.

One of the most exciting aspects to skiing at Panorama, high in the Purcell Mountains, is the close proximity to heli-ski operations. After a few days on Panorama’s challenging terrain or well-groomed intermediate slopes, skiers have the opportunity to step next door to R.K. Heli-Ski. This heli-ski company specializes in making powder skiers out of intermediate and advanced skiers. And it’s reasonable. A day package which includes three heli-ski descents, guide service, lunch and souvenirs is only $297.76 U.S. Call (800) 661-6060 for information.

Location: A six-hour drive from Spokane, 18 km from Invermere.

Tickets: Adult $40.19 ($30.15 U.S.); teen (13-18)/Senior (65+) $30.84 ($23.15 U.S.); junior (7-12) $19.62 ($14.75 U.S.); child (6 and under) $6.07 ($4.50 U.S.). Rates do not include GST (tax).

Day care: 18 months an older. Call for rates and reservations

Lessons: Group $79 ($59.25 U.S.) for two days; private $48 ($36 U.S.) per hour.

Nordic: 22 km trail system (rates not available, but last season’s rate $4 ($3 U.S.).

Phone: (250) 342-6941.

Reservations: (800) 663-2929.

Snow phone: (250) 342-6941.

E-mail: www.panoramaresort.com

Internet: http://www.Panoramaresort.com

Fairmont Ski Area

Fairmont Ski Area is a family favorite with mostly beginner and intermediate pitches. Fairmont is just above the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort where skiers can stay and soak - their lift ticket is good for entry into the public hot springs.

Fairmont’s original bathhouse was built in 1926. Today, the resort includes a 140-room lodge, Canada’s largest odorless mineral hot pool, spa and year-round activities. In the spring, Fairmont is one of the few places where guests can ski and golf on the same day.

Location: a six-hour drive from Spokane to Fairmont Hot Springs Resort.

Tickets: Adult $26 (19.50 U.S.); junior (7-14) $17 ($12.75 U.S.); senior $12 ($9 U.S.); 6 and under free.

Day care: None.

Lessons: Group $18 ($13.50 U.S.); private $35 ($26.25 U.S.). Nordic: 20 km of tracked skiing free.

Phone: (250) 345-6311 ext 281.

Reservations: (800) 663-4979.

Snow phone: (250) 345-6311, ext 7003.

E-mail: fairmont@rockies.net

Internet: fairmontresort.com

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: British Columbia ski deals Whistler/Blackcomb skiers can pick up discount lift tickets at a store called Save-On-Foods, located in nearby Squamish 45 miles south of Whistler. The ultimate cheapskate’s deal is at the Youth Hostel in Whistler. For $20 a skier can snooze the night away. (604) 932-5492. At Silver Star Mountain, get two ski-free tickets (four tickets per suite) with each night’s accommodations, Sunday through Thursday, through Dec. 13. Minimum stay: three nights. Big White offers ski-and-stay packages starting at $59 during its Super Saver Season, Nov. 15-Dec. 19, and March 31-April 12. The package includes lift, lesson and lodging. Kids 12 and under stay free. Call (800) 663-2772. In January at Fernie Snow Valley there’s a free day and night on lifts and lodging with the purchase of a lodging package. Call (888) 754-7325. Fairmont Hot Springs Resort offers a ski-and-swim package that includes two nights lodging, two days skiing and unlimited use of hot pools at $109 per person.

This sidebar appeared with the story: British Columbia ski deals Whistler/Blackcomb skiers can pick up discount lift tickets at a store called Save-On-Foods, located in nearby Squamish 45 miles south of Whistler. The ultimate cheapskate’s deal is at the Youth Hostel in Whistler. For $20 a skier can snooze the night away. (604) 932-5492. At Silver Star Mountain, get two ski-free tickets (four tickets per suite) with each night’s accommodations, Sunday through Thursday, through Dec. 13. Minimum stay: three nights. Big White offers ski-and-stay packages starting at $59 during its Super Saver Season, Nov. 15-Dec. 19, and March 31-April 12. The package includes lift, lesson and lodging. Kids 12 and under stay free. Call (800) 663-2772. In January at Fernie Snow Valley there’s a free day and night on lifts and lodging with the purchase of a lodging package. Call (888) 754-7325. Fairmont Hot Springs Resort offers a ski-and-swim package that includes two nights lodging, two days skiing and unlimited use of hot pools at $109 per person.

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