Predictions for British Columbia’s 2021-22 ski season can be summed up in two words: La Niña.
The weather phenomenon will play a key role in the province’s weather pattern this winter, and that’s good news for skiers and shredders. During a La Niña, sea surface temperatures in the open waters of the Pacific Ocean near the equator dip to below-average levels. For western Canada, this means lower winter temperatures than average, abundant rainfall and strong winds.
“Abundant snowfall is expected throughout much of ski country from the Coastal Range of British Columbia through the Rockies of western Alberta,” says AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Anderson.
All of BC’s resorts have tentatively scheduled early December openings — weather dependent.
While resorts had to get creative to work around COVID-19 restrictions last year, the 2021-22 snow season seems to be tracking back to almost normal. Resorts in BC follow provincial public health orders; visitors are reminded to be prepared for these guidelines. All resorts have health and safety policies that include vaccination passports in certain areas, as well as requirements for staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. They are asking visitors to familiarize themselves with the policies before making the trip up the mountains this season.
Big White Ski Resort
Big White is receiving some big accolades heading into the snow season. Condé Nast Traveller voted the family-oriented alpine resort the No. 2 resort in Canada behind Lake Louise, and the top resort in BC.
“As one of the few Canadian family-owned-and-operated resorts in Canada, this award speaks volumes to the commitment our team has to providing a stellar resort experience,” said Peter Plimmer, president and CEO of Big White Ski Resort Ltd. “We’re very proud to be featured on this list.”
The award comes at a time when Big White will be bringing back more features like the tube park, opening after a year’s hiatus, and the skating rink in Happy Valley.
Big White will also be on the little screen again this winter. Pinkbike Academy filmed a second season of its reality mountain biking show on the slopes of Bike Big White.
Apex Mountain Resort
When people think of Penticton, they often think of wineries, fruit trees and warm summers. Skiers, however, know that the real gem of Okanagan Lake is Apex Mountain Resort. Situated 30 minutes away from Penticton, Apex benefits from bluebird skies and champagne powder during winter.
Apex sees an average of 600 centimetres of snow in a season; there’s no telling what La Niña has in store. Following a successful 2020-21 season despite COVID-19 restrictions, the story of Apex promises to be a bestseller.
SilverStar Mountain Resort
SilverStar Mountain Resort in the heart of the Okanagan Valley pivoted to accommodate safety protocols during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020-21. This year, it’s full steam ahead — safely.
All facilities at SilverStar will be open for 2021-22, including Tube Town and skating. Lifts and gondolas will load at normal capacity, with physical distancing happening “organically” in lift lines.
SilverStar is a 20-minute drive from Vernon and a 55-minute drive from Kelowna International Airport. Nordic is slated to open November 26 and the rest of the resort on Dec. 3.
Sun Peaks Resort
Located just north of Kamloops, Sun Peaks Resort has 4,270 acres of skiable terrain, spread across three mountain peaks, each with a personality of its own. Each mountain is easily accessible from the village, so it’s possible to ski all three in the same day.
The three mountains at Sun Peaks surround a European-style, ski-through village filled with quaint shops, cafés and eateries. The ski resort has an abundance of winter activities and events both on and off the slopes—from Nordic skiing to dog sledding and more.
The Sun Peaks mountain playground includes 13 lifts and 138 trails with 19 gladed areas and a 34-kilometre Nordic trail. It includes deep steeps, long cruisers, glade zones, powder stashes and corduroy groomers.It gets six metres of snow annually, covering the mountains in the light, dry powder that is famous to the interior of BC. And capping it all? Sun Peaks gets about 2,000 hours of sunshine each year.
RED Mountain Resort
Because RED Mountain Resort is one of the oldest ski hills in North America, the physical arrangements of its indoor spaces overlap. In order to keep staff and guests safe, RED Mountain will be requiring government-mandated vaccine passports and identification for all guests entering indoor spaces this year.
RED Mountain boasts five skiable peaks including tree runs, pristine powder and nearly 3,000 feet of vertical drop.
Fernie and Kimberley Alpine Resorts
The staff at Fernie and Kimberley alpine resorts are looking forward to a great season of hosting guests in their spectacular mountain surroundings. They ask their guests to review safety measures prior to visiting, and to treat staff respectfully.
“We are as enthusiastic about winter as ever, and hope you are too,” said a spokesperson for Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.
Pre-purchasing tickets online is recommended for 2021-22, as guest services may be closed or reduced. Both Fernie and Kimberley resorts will sell lift tickets at ticket windows and self-serve kiosks.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort
There’s something about Revelstoke that keeps snow sport lovers coming back year after year — 120 years, to be exact.
Revelstoke is known for the longest descent in North America, epic alpine bowls, legendary amounts of snow and so much pow.
Despite the economic downturn of the coronavirus pandemic, the development team is moving ahead on a number of projects including a 154-room slope-side hotel, an 18-hole Cabot Pacific golf course and the first phase of employee housing. The hotel will feature 6,700 square feet of conference space, more than 7,300 square feet for a restaurant and bar as well as fitness and spa space.
Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing will move into the new hotel once it is built — plans allow for three helipads adjacent to the property.
Mount Washington Alpine Resort
Mount Washington is all about adventure this winter. With an average annual snowfall of more than 11 metres and 1,700 acres of in-bound terrain, the 2021-22 season promises to deliver the ultimate alpine adventure.
From Nordic skiing and snowshoeing at Raven Lodge to the Tube Park, fat bike tours to 505 breathtaking vertical metres of alpine terrain, Mount Washington awaits.
Mount Cain Alpine Park
The exciting news for Mount Cain on Vancouver Island this winter is construction of a new lodge once the 2022 season concludes. Planning and design happened in earnest over the summer, and by next year visitors can expect a lodge featuring ski patrol and a ski shop downstairs, café and seating upstairs, multiple decks with spectacular views and “lots and lots of bathrooms.”
Cain is considered a gem on northern Vancouver Island, keeping true to its family roots.
Some epic things are happening at Whistler Blackcomb, Vancouver’s year-round destination resort. Owner Vail Resorts announced an Epic Lift Upgrade, the company’s initiative to bring game-changing lift upgrades to its mountain resorts.
“At some of our mountains, this new high-speed lifts that will double how fast we can move people out of the base areas, and at others, the projects are about making it easier for people to explore different sections of the mountain,” said Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts.
At Whistler Blackcomb that means for 2022-23 a new high-speed eight-person gondola at Creekside Gondola will replace the existing six-person model. At Big Red Express, the high-speed four-person lift will be replaced by a six-person high-speed chairlift, increasing uphill capacity by 30 per cent.
Safety of patrons and employees will be a main focus for Grouse Mountain from opening day.
Grouse Mountain has introduced the VaxTrax Program, a one-time vaccine verification process for all pass holders, allowing them to access the resort without having to provide proof of vaccination each visit.
Mount Seymour ski resort is only a 30-minute drive from Vancouver and offers a full complement of winter snow activities, from skiing and snowboarding to adaptive snow sports on more than 80 hectares of terrain.
Seymour will continue with reservable four-hour time slots for both season pass holders and lift ticket purchasers on weekends and holidays. The reservations were implemented in 2020 to help manage capacity while keeping to COVID-19 protocols.
Cypress Mountain has made significant investments to its facilities over the past few years, and the expansion of its snow-making equipment will be a big boost for early season openings. It will also give the grooming staff the ability to refresh the resort’s main ski runs throughout the season.
Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, tubing and Lights to the Lodge are all located on Hollyburn Ridge.
– This story first appeared in Pacific Coastal Airlines’ SOAR Magazine.
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