Lot’s New At Canada’s Western Resorts: Heliskiing, Equipment, Lifts, Terrain, Tubing
Ski resorts in Western Canada have been busy getting ready for the coming ski/snowboard season with a wide range of new benefits for skiers and snowboarders. Here’s a sampling:
Big White in Kelowna has kids and adults in mind with new guest offerings. They’ve added the “Loose Moose Emporium,” a kids’ boutique that will stock clothing, winter apparel, and an international candy selection for kids of all ages. Nordic lovers, snowshoe enthusiasts, dog walkers and dog sledders will find upgraded beginner and intermediate trails.
The Wintersteiger Mercury robotic tuner will maintain the rental fleet, ensuring today’s high performance equipment is at its best. Seasonal rentals for kids 12 and under http://www.bigwhite.com/mountain-info/tickets-and-rentals-pricing/rentals are available for season passholders that include skis, boots, and poles; helmets are available for an additional fee. Offer is valid until Sept. 1 or until the 300 sets are sold out.
Fernie Alpine Resort is adding a winter zipline ride, available during the holiday season, as well as an outdoor firepit on the Slopeside Deck. On hill improvements include pre-season glading on a number of runs; new snowmaking hydrants for better coverage to Dipsy and Lower Ballet areas; continued improvements to on-mountain signage; and a grooming snowcat.
New to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is the Family Skiing Zone located on Lower Mountain and accessed from Catamount Chair. The ski zone is serviced by its own quad chairlift.
Kimberley Alpine Resort is adding Alpine Slide, a new ski run. The beginner trail provides an easy way down to the lower mountain from the top of Northstar Chair. Couples might want to take advantage of the new Wedding Tent and On-Mountain Wedding Venue, located at the base of the resort; or take it up a notch by getting married at the Top of the World Kootenay Haus and Mountain Arch ceremony site at the top of Northstar Mountain.
Vancouver Island’s Mount Washington Alpine Resort is adding a new Tube Park that will increase capacity from 250 per hour to 2,000 riders. Tubers also will get a new Magic Carpet for uphill access, and two additional lanes. The previous Ozone Tubing Park has been moved from its previous location to just past Alpine Lodge giving riders closer access to facilities around the resort.
Their Rookie Year program is for kids who are first-time skiers or snowboarders receive a season pass for unlimited time on snow, unlimited ski or snowboard rentals, and unlimited afternoon group lessons in Mountain Kids all season long. The only catch? Must be a never-ever. Special learning gear for first-timers is exclusively from Rossignol and Burton. The program saves $100 off a child’s season pass; but with free rentals and lessons.
Visitors to Calgary’s Nakiska Ski Area will find a new tubing park adjacent to Kids World. There will be two tubing tracks and the 90m Magic Carpet will serve kids and beginners. Other improvements include Homesteader Bypass, an easier run to the base area for beginners; BBQ pit and deck expansion; and “The Beast” snowcat that will improve ground preparation by 20 percent.
RED Mountain Resort in Rossland, B.C., is installing a new fixed-grip quad chair on contiguous Grey Mountain, the third 360-degree lift accessible mountain within the resort. This expansion gives skiers access to three peaks, including Red and Granite. Grey adds 997 acres to RED bringing total skiable acres to 2,682. The new terrain offers expanded intermediate terrain selections, as well as challenging chutes and steeps off the north and eastern slopes of Grey. The expansion makes RED the eighth largest ski area in Canada according to RED.
Heliskiing is returning to Silver Star Mountain with Kingfisher Heliskiing starting Boxing Day, Dec. 26. It is just one of three resorts in Canada that offers heliskiing from the resort itself with pickup right by the lodges. Day trips can handle up to 10 people, including guides. Details to be determined.
The popular My1Pass, launched last season, continues. Holders get unlimited access to 55 km groomed Nordic trails; 16m of groomed, marked snowshoe trails; ice skating; Tube Town Adventure Park with lift accessed snow tubing; and skiing and snowboarding over 3,000 acres of terrain, including 1,900 acres of black and double black on Dark Side. It’s reportedly Canada’s first all-inclusive lift ticket and season pass. Early Bird and Early Bird Family rates are available until Oct. 20.
Two new chairlifts will be making their debut this season at Whistler Blackcomb. (See SnoCountry story.) The Doppelmayr high-speed detachable Harmony 6 on Whistler Mountain replaces the current quad chair, increasing uphill capacity by 50 percent. Blackcomb’s new chair is the high-speed quad Crystal Ridge Express, increasing ridership by 65 percent per hour.
On- and off-mountain upgrades continue at Whitewater Ski Resort in Nelson. The Buckshot run has been widened; Golddigger has undergone some de-stumping; The Blast has been slightly widened; and lower Trash Chutes is undergoing some terrain expansion. Spokane-area skiers and snowboarders can make use of the expanded shuttle service that now will operate five days a week, Wednesday through Mondays; round trip ticket costs have been reduced. The Fresh Tracks Café Express at the base of Glory Chair will feature an indoor heated dining area and full washroom facilities.
Photo: Red Mountain (F.Marseille)