Resort Guide 2013-2014: British Columbia
Words: Gerhard Gross
There's a reason why most of the major film crews spend some, if not all of their season in BC. From Whistler's average annual snowfall of 469 inches to Revelstoke's ridiculous 720 inches in the Interior, there's almost always pow to be found somewhere. Nine major mountain ranges crisscross the province creating a mix of terrain from steep to rolling that makes for some of the best and most diverse riding in the world. When it comes to choosing where to go in BC it's really a matter of what you want to ride and the après/party scene you're looking for. Whistler's got the terrain and the nightlife (some people move there for a season of world-class partying, not the world-class riding) but any of the eight resorts along the Interior's Powder Highway have that laid-back BC vibe, mellow lift lines, and plenty of stashes to be found days after the last snowfall.
Okay, we've established that for many people, from pros to powder hounds, BC is basically Mecca. Now some cons. The sun. Don't expect to see it much between the start of the season and March. Hopefully that's because it's snowing a lot, but there can be periods of a week or more where the clouds cling to the mountains and just piss everyone off. If you're lucky that means there's an inversion and it's perfectly sunny up top so it's always worth checking the mountain web cams but many times you'll be riding in flat light and fog. Do yourself a favor and bring lenses for all light conditions.
The roads. Following the 2010 Olympics, the drive to Whistler is pretty cruisey compared to what you'll find in the Interior or anywhere farther north. Those highways are narrow, twisting, and often covered with slush or snow. Be prepared for closures too. Throw in a bunch of oncoming big rigs and the driving alone is enough to get your blood pumping before you even strap in.
Yes, traveling in the winter can be a bitch but so what, it's all part of the trip. In BC, what you'll find when you get to the lifts should be well worth the pilgrimage.
Find a full list of all 37 of BC's resorts at hellobc.com.
Check out the next page for our top three freeriding resorts in British Columbia
The Top 3 Freeride Resorts in British Columbia for 2013-2014
Revelstoke Mountain Resort
Holding the resort title for the most vertical in North America at 5,620 feet, Revelstoke has obvious advantages. But moving into its sixth year of operation it's the lesser-known stuff that makes RMR great. Look for fresh lines and pillow stacks hidden in the trees and search out descents on North Bowl.
Standout Terrain: Conifers Of Gnarnia Glades, The Ripper Chair hit runs, Greely Bowl
Don’t Miss: Bowling at The Cabin, at least one thigh-burning top-to-bottom lap
Even before the expansion onto Grey Mountain this year added a third more acreage to Red, there were plenty of freeriding features to discover. A 360-degree cat track circles the base of Granite and Grey meaning you can drop anywhere, knowing that you just have to hit that track to make it back to a lift.
Standout Terrain: The Orchards, High Spirts, hit runs on Rhinos Run
Don’t Miss: Pints at Rafters Lounge, the Legion on Fridays, Rossvegas Boardshop
Fernie is all about bowl riding. There are five of them to explore, all opened strategically throughout the day after a heavy dump, keeping the pow fresh. If you're still having problems finding deep turns, head over to Fish Bowl for a little sidecountry. The cat crew always runs a track to get you back to the resort.
Standout Terrain: Snake Ridge, Easter Bowl, Lost Boys Pass
Don’t Miss: The Mogul Smoker, Griz Days
Check out the next page for the top 3 parks in British Columbia
The Top 3 Parks in British Columbia for 2013-2014
Aside from the freeriding, these parks are a big part of why riders across Canada gravitate to the area. The setup changed a bit on Whistler this year, where the jumps were downsized and the focus put on rails, but on Blackcomb they opened a helmet-free lane that was devoted to giant Black Park jumps.
Standouts: Canada’s biggest day-to-day park jumps, the longest riding season, Dave Fortin in the Black park
Don’t Miss: Sachi Sushi, Splitz Grill, fresh tracks breakfast
A dedicated lift runs the length of Big White's parks giving access to three main lanes. The park staff here always works hard to get the park open quickly after a dump so no matter what the weather you'll be able to drop into well-groomed rail setups mixed with progressively bigger jumps at the bottom.
Standouts: Progressive System layout for all levels of riders, extra features hidden in the trees
Don’t Miss: The Neil Edgeworth Banked Slalom, après at Snowshow Sams
The park crew has long listened to the riders, a big reason why the setups are creative, fun, and flow so well. With the new quad lift that recently replaced the ancient Mystery chair you get faster laps through the Northlands Park and The Pit rail zone. Don't miss the night riding either.
Standouts: The scene, the hit runs, The Pit
Don’t Miss: OMB’s Three Trick Pony contest, girls ride free Monday Nights
Check out the next page for a few of our insider tips…
One of the cheapest day passes in the Interior only gets cheaper if you get the six-day Powder Plus card, giving you the first and sixth days free, plus $7.50 off the other four days. Or if you're willing to hike for your turns in Whitewater's ample sidecountry, a single ride pass is 21 dollars. You'll be staying in Nelson where you'll find reasonably priced rooms, beers, and pretty normal grocery prices. Weird.
New this year, the Resorts Of The Canadian Rockies (RCR) Rockies Pass gets you on the lifts at three Interior BC resorts including Fernie, Kicking Horse, and Kimberly, plus Nakiska in Alberta for 1,159 dollars CAD.
Get Hosed Here
Garfinkle's Nightclub (Whistler)
Rafters Lounge (Red Mountain)
The Rockpit and/or The Cabin (Revelstoke)
Snowshoe Sam's (Big White)
Fortune Sound Club (Vancouver)
The Royal (Fernie)
YVR (Vancouver, BC) for Whistler
YLW (Kelowna, BC) for all Interior resorts
YYC (Calgary, AB) a longer drive to the Interior
YCG (Castlegar, BC, a.k.a. Cancel-gar) maybe not
GEG (Spokane, WA) for all Interior resorts