British Columbia: Big Mountains, Up Close And Personal -
Big mountains, tremendous vertical drops, vast alpine bowls and rolling ridges, generally consistent snow, and surprisingly short distances make British Columbia a candy story for skiers and riders, offering enough variety to last a lifetime.
Whistler Blackcomb is the Big Shot in BC with two mountains, 7,000 acres of alpine terrain served by 33 lifts with an uphill capacity of 59,000 skiers/riders per hour. This huge resort is 100 miles north of Vancouver - less than two hours away by car from the airport.
Whistler Blackcomb will host a number of events at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Whistler's vertical is 5,020 feet, while Blackcomb's is an even mile at 5,280 feet. The base elevation for both is 2,140 with Whistler's summit at 7,160 feet and Blackcomb's at 7,494. Each offers more than 100 trails and slopes, more than half of them intermediate terrain, with the longest at each 7 miles. Whistler has 21 lifts - two high-speed gondolas, six high-speed quads, two trips, a double and nine surface lifts. Blackcomb has 17 lifts - a high-speed gondola, six high-speed quads, three triples an seven surface lifts. The two areas have snowmaking, but no night skiing, terrain parks, half pipes and cross-country skiing.
Cypress Mountain is close to Vancouver and is highest of the North Shore peaks with a 2,010 foot vertical, 52 trails - the longest 2.5 miles, served by eight lifts. Cypress, too, will host some Olympic events. Other nearby ski areas include Grouse Mountain, Hemlock Resort, Manning Park Resort, and Mount Seymour.
Kimberley Alpine Resort and Fernie Alpine Resort offer skiing farther inland. Kimberley has a vertical drop of 2,465 feet off a summit elevation of 6,500 feet, 1,800 acres of terrain, 80 trails with the longest run just under 4 miles in length, and five lifts - a high-speed quad, a triple, a double, and two surface lifts. Fernie has a vertical of 2,816 feet, a summit elevation of 6,316 feet, 2,504 acres of skiable terrain, 114 trails, five bowls and numerous glades, 10 lifts - two high-speed quads, two fixed-grip quads, two triples, and four surface lifts.
Fairmont Hot Springs Resort; Kicking Horse Mountain - with 4,133 feet of vertical; Panorama Mountain; Revelstoke Mountain Resort; Red Resort - 87 runs, 1,685 skiable acres, 2,919-foot vertical; Saimo Ski Hill; Summit Lake Resort, and Whitewater Ski Resort complete the ski areas of the central B.C. Rockies.
Northern B.C. holds Murray Ridge Ski Hill, Powder King Mountain Resort, Purden Ski Village, Shames Mountain Ski Resort, Ski & Ride Smithers Resort and Whitewater Ski Resort.
The Okanagan region of British Columbia offers the second-largest ski area in the province - Big White Ski Resort, with 2,765 acres of patrolled terrain, 118 designated trails, 16 lifts, a vertical of 2,550 feet. This is wine country so you'll never need hydration. This region also has Apex Mountain Resort, Crystal Mountain, Harper Mountain, Mount Baldy, Phoenix Mountain Resort, Silver Star Mountain Resort and Sun Peaks Ski Resort.