British Columbia (often referred to as BC) is the westernmost of Canada’s provinces, famous for its natural alpine beauty. With an extensive number of huge ski resorts scattered throughout the region, including Whistler Blackcomb, its not wonder it was chosen as the host for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Epic snowfalls, huge vertical, expansive backcountry and huge range in terrain characterise skiing in BC. The region also experiences a mild winter climate (compared to resorts further inland) given its coastal location. It is also very accessible, with more than 200 airports throughout BC, the major ones being Vancouver, Kelowna and Victoria international airports.
“British Columbia really does tick all the boxes. Several resorts offer great variety of terrain for every level of skier and snowboarder. With reliable snowfall and spectacular scenery, BC is a must see/must go/must do place.”
Revelstoke is located in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia. Revelstoke or ‘Revvy’ as the locals call it, has long been the place to go to find some of the best cat and heli-ski operations in North America. The light dry powder and the endless terrain is what Revelstoke is famous for and whilst the cat and heli operations are excellent, some of the best terrain can be accessed within the resort boundaries.
Attracting more skiers every year, it is becoming known as the next ‘big thing,’ unsurprising as Revelstoke doesn’t do small. The mountain is huge, the snowfall is massive, the terrain on offer is vast, the runs are extensive and the smiles at the end of the day are big and bright.
Top to bottom it is over 1700 metres. Given the terrain, Revelstoke is best suited for high intermediate to advanced skiers and riders – the easiest run is best suited for intermediates, and there are no flats besides the magic carpet.
REVELSTOKE RESORT STATS
Season: December – May
Altitude: 2225m at highest point
Terrain: Beginner 7% / Intermediate 45.5% / Advanced 47.5%
Lift system: 2 gondolas, 2 quad chairs, 1 magic carpet
Longest run: 15.2km
Average Snowfall: 12-18m
Whistler. It is huge. With its huge vertical, extensive variety of terrain and reliable snow, there is no wonder why visiting Whistler is a ‘rite of passage’ for many Australian skiers and boarders. Whistler is made up of two resorts, Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb, linked by gondola, and there is so much terrain to explore. There is also a high vertical – often when it rains at the bottom it is still snowing mid mountain and up top. There is also something for everyone in the village, which is only accessible on foot but connected by the village shuttle. This shuttle stops frequently around town between Whistler Village and Whistler Creek, enabling you to explore all of the shops, restaurants and bars that the large commercial resort has to offer.
Season: Late Nov – Early June
Terrain: Beginner 20% / Intermediate 55% / Advanced 25%
Lift system: 33 lifts
Longest run: 11km
Average Snowfall: 10m/year
Terrain Parks: 4 parks, 1 pipe, 1 superpipe
Located in BC near the Alberta US border, Fernie is a growing resort with a reputation for spectacular scenery and excellent snow conditions. Elephant and Mammoth Head provide massive rock backdrops to an extensive playground attracting skiers and snowboarders, and with over 8m average snowfall there is usually plenty of powder. Overall, Fernie is great for those advanced skiers who enjoy the steep and deep. Another plus – being quite remote, Fernie does not get the same crowds as other resorts in British Columbia.
FERNIE RESORT STATS
Season: Late Nov – April
Terrain: Beginner 30% / Intermediate 40% / Advanced 30%
Lift system: 10 – 2 high speed quad chairs, 2 quad chairs, 3 triple chairs, 3 surface lifts
Longest run: 5km
Average Snowfall: 11m
Terrain Parks: 1 rail park
Located about a 2.5 to 3 hour drive from, and 90km west of Banff, Kicking Horse is Canada’s newest ski resort. Previously being only accessible by heli, the area is now becoming developed as a commercial resort with lift facilities installed. It is rapidly growing its reputation for great powder, unsurprising given its location in one of the most northern locations in the country. And even if you hit the resort days after heavy snowfall, you’re likely to get fresh tracks due to the lack of crowds. Overall, Kicking Horse has a great variety of terrain with its huge alpine bowls, tree runs and groomers, catering best for advanced skiers and riders.
KICKING HORSE RESORT STATS
Season: Mid Dec – Mid April
Terrain: Beginner 20% / Intermediate 20% / Advanced 18%
Lift system: 4 lifts – 1 high speed 8 person gondola, 2 quads, 1 double chair
Longest run: 10km
Average Snowfall: 254 at base, 700 at peak
Terrain Parks: No
The highest and second largest resort in British Columbia is known to locals as the ‘Friendly Giant’. 55km from Kelowna airport, the town Big White is renowned as a great family resort along with its sister resort Silver Star. Big White is great for intermediates and beginners with a green run from the top of every chair allowing beginner skiers a safe passage down the hill, while more advanced skiers have plenty of other options to explore the mountain.
BIG WHITE RESORT STATS
Season: Nov – April
Terrain: Beginner 18% / Intermediate 56% / Advanced 26%
Lift system: 16 (1 gondola, 10 chairs, 5 surface)
Longest run: 7.2km
Average Snowfall: 7.5m+
Terrain Parks: Telus park
Located in BC, Sun Peaks is one of Canada’s largest ski areas and in the top 20 of North America’s 700+ resorts for vertical drop. Fine dry snow creates great powder skiing on long trails, and lots of fast blue and black runs off all chairs provides the advanced skier a huge variety of choice. The Sun Peaks village has a large number of cafes and restaurants and almost all accommodation is ski in/out. With the aim to ensure the mountain does not get overcrowded, it is the current policy that the lifting capacity of the mountain does not exceed the number of beds. Often called the ‘smaller, quieter version of Whistler’, Sun peaks offers great terrain with an easily accessible, pedestrian town, but without the Whistler crowds.
SUN PEAKS RESORT STATS
Season: Late Nov – mid April
Terrain: Beginner 24% / Intermediate 54% / Advanced 22%
Lift system: 11 lifts including 5 quad chairs
Longest run: 8km
Average Snowfall: 559cm
Terrain Parks: 1
Like other resorts based in British Columbia, Red Mountain Resort has got a reputation for great snowfall, with 750cm of light and dry powder on average annually. Geared towards intermediate and advanced skiers and riders, this mountain has an extensive array of challenging terrain, including good fall line tree skiing. Whilst this destination has excellent snow conditions, it is still relatively undiscovered compared to other resorts in BC – hence the lack of crowds and underinflated prices. There are plenty of accommodation options both on and off mountain, with the nearest town of Rossland offering a large range of shops, restaurants and bars. What we like about this place? The cool Canadian laid-back vibe of ‘Rustic’ Red Mountain.