Sunday, December 27, 2015

Destination BC Slope Angles, December 2015

Here is a captivating collection of Slope Angles from Destination British Columbia.

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In British Columbia, 10 snow-capped ranges and 13 top-notch ski resorts — many boasting quaint villages and celebrated après-ski adventures — offer the ideal incentive to embrace another season of snow. And here, in Canada's westernmost province, you're bound to discover the winter within.

Cruise the Contours, See the Sights Along BC's Cross-Country Tracks

In BC, slipping into skinny skis promises a self-propelled sojourn, embraced by Mother Nature's quiet calm. Here follows a few local tracks worthy of exploration.

Adventurers can click in at Mount Washington Alpine Resort, where more than 688 hectares (1,700 acres) of cruise-worthy trails weave through old-growth forest. The Vancouver Island destination's Raven Lodge and Nordic Centre draw enthusiasts to Strathcona Provincial Park, a striking expanse that showcases 55 kilometres (34 miles) of machine-groomed cross-country trails through open meadows and unspoiled forest. Alternatively, enthusiasts can take in the landscape at a different pace, and slide into snowshoes for a satisfying crunch into the woods.
On the mainland, Callaghan Country excels in cool-climate adventure, thanks to 47 kilometres (29 miles) of track-set trails designed for classic technique and light Nordic ski touring. Situated 20 minutes south of Whistler Village, Callaghan Country accommodates all comers: a Skinny Mini orientation to the sport is ideal for newbies; families can indulge in track time for everyone when outfitted with child-style chariots (or sled pulls); and Fido can come too, courtesy of a trail system designed for the click and glide alongside man's best friend. To break away from the pack, keeners can opt for an 8.5-kilometre (5.2-mile) snowcat shuttle to pristine Callaghan Lake, where ski touring is defined by untracked powder and quiet landscapes. Overnights? Callaghan's Journeyman Lodge offers eight guest rooms, a convivial lounge and hearty menus.

Dakota Ridge Recreation, a short hop, skip and a ferry ride from West Vancouver, is home to 20 kilometres (12 miles) of track-set cross-country ski trails (classic and skate) and eight easy-does-it kilometres (five miles) of snowshoe trails, all backed by stands of old-growth forest and open subalpine. As a bonus, this Sunshine Coast destination boasts volunteer trail hosts who gamely patrol the area on weekends and provide the skinny on trail knowledge and safety. For those eager for more personalized exploration, Alpha Adventures, based in Wilson Creek near Sechelt, will navigate through the wilds, offering stellar views of the Coast Mountains and neighbouring Vancouver Island.;

For a change of pace, enthusiasts can discover BC's cowboy country further northeast near Clinton. Here, along the area's Big Bar Ski Trails, just north of town, cruises through the contours wind alongside pretty forest trails packed with snow. Options include soft glides along 25 kilometres (15 miles) of groomed track or adrenalin-inducing propels through an additional 25 kilometres (15 miles) of un-groomed backcountry trails — all areas managed deftly by volunteers. Excursions promise rosy-cheeked results, and may even reward with a camera-ready peek at resident deer and moose.

More than 105 kilometres (65 miles) of cross-country track provides the pull at SilverStar Mountain Resort and nearby Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre, northeast of Vernon. Boasting Canada's largest daily groomed trail network and some of the most consistent snow conditions in the province, this interconnected trail system is a favourite training ground for both the Canadian and USA National Cross Country and Biathlon teams. It's not hard to see why: lift-accessed upper trails, three warming huts, eye-popping views, plus specialized camps and events all quicken the pace. Add meticulous grooming, top-notch facilities and ski-in, ski-out accommodation to the mix, and devotees have the makings of an exhilarating, self-propelled adventure.

From City Sights to Mountain Peaks: Vancouver's North Shore Beckons

On Vancouver's North Shore, three mountains loom large, each promising high-adrenalin winter experiences, just beyond the city lights.

Cypress Mountain, northwest of the city, has been a favoured local destination for nearly a century. While the mountain's infrastructure has expanded over the years — to 53 downhill ski runs and four terrain parks — the essentials have remained the same: here, adventurists revel in carve-worthy slopes and the highest verticals on the North Shore. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers share in the rush, too, with nearly 19 kilometres (12 miles) of snowy alpine terrain; snowshoers would be wise to sign up for the guided Hollyburn Meadows Tour, a soft-footed excursion that promises insight into the area's cultural and natural history.

North America's largest aerial tramway ride awaits adventurists at the base of Grouse Mountain, a quick trip that whisks skiers and boarders to a mountaintop complete with a chalet, skating rink, sleigh rides and, when the season's right, a visit from the man in red himself. Here, adventure options run the gamut with 26 ski and snowboard runs, two terrain parks, 10 kilometres (six miles) of snowshoe trails and illuminated "Light Walk" strolls around Blue Grouse Lake. Following a day's play, après-ski dining and entertainment options abound with everything from locally sourced menus at the Observatory to lick-your-fingers pub fare from Lupins Café, capped with views of the city below.

For a classic west coast ski experience, Mt Seymour hits all the right notes. This family-owned mountain — and the North Shore's first terrain park — is revered by locals. While winter sport junkies revel in its four diverse terrain parks, Mt Seymour's terrain is not solely for thrill-seekers; thanks to the North Shore's longest-running Ski & Snowboard School, and excellent beginner and intermediate terrain, the resort is ideal for families and for those eager to begin their snow career. (In particular, Mt Seymour's Goldie Meadows learning area, featuring the North Shore's only covered magic carpet, is best for shuttling newbies to the top of the slopes.) Enthusiasts can round out the fun at the toboggan and snow tube parks, or with snowshoe stomps through Mt Seymour's old-growth-forest setting.

It's Always a Snow Day in BC's North

Northern BC has long been a haven for outdoor adventurists, and when the snow flies, skis and boards are standard equipment — and always at the ready — for every intrepid adventurer.

Shames Mountain near Terrace, for example, promises a flurry of activity once the temperature drops. Here, mega snowfalls routinely draw skiers and riders, and in this quiet, rural setting, fresh tracks are frequently on the menu. As Canada's only non-profit, co-operatively owned ski hill (locals formed My Recreational Mountain Coop in order to purchase and operate Shames Mountain), this northern gem offers choice intermediate and advanced runs, alongside an expansive backcountry landscape. In addition, skiers and boarders can expect spectacular fluted ridges and peaks spread in every direction, while natural glades make for heart-thumping tree skiing, Northern BC-style.;

Further northeast in the Bulkley Valley near Smithers, Hudson Bay Mountain Resort draws the faithful every year, due largely to the area's natural mountain-range topography combined with the ferocity of northern Pacific weather systems. The result: Mother Nature's ultimate snow machine. On mountain, enthusiasts can carve through 127 hectares (315 acres) of big mountain terrain, and they'll even be tempted to stay a while, thanks to Ski & Stay packages that combine one day's play (or more) with an overnight at the Aspen Inn and Suites or the Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge. For a change of pace, intermediate and expert skiers can switch their gear for backcountry boards to make tracks along the Hankin-Evelyn Backcountry Recreation Area, where 13 cut ski runs, five alpine bowls and a day-use shelter in the sub-alpine are sure to stir the adventurist spirit.;

Snow-packed exploration continues north of Prince George, where Powder King reigns. Here, the resort is situated a mere 462 metres (1,500 feet) from Highway 97, but Powder King feels worlds away from the bustle of your average ski resort. Breathtaking drops, challenging, groomed slopes and excellent tree riding draw devotees, while 38 runs (most, like Penny Lane and Lovely Rita, named for popular Beatles tunes) and a trickster-friendly snowboard cross track are sure to mix things up. Those who wish to linger can bunk at the Powder King Mountain Hotel, an old-school-style hostel at the base of the mountain that offers cosy comfort for powder-hungry crews.

Just west of Prince George, Otway Nordic Centre is home to a 55-kilometre (34-mile) trail system that is a tempting blend of smooth grooves and technical track. As the site for the Cross-Country Skiing, Biathlon and Para-Nordic events during the 2015 Canada Winter Games — Canada's largest multi-sport competition for young athletes — Otway upped its game and refurbished its competition facilities, a $1.7 million upgrade that included expanded stadiums and new technical buildings, alongside courses primed for future international competition.

British Columbia's Ski Resorts are Home to Unexpected Adventure

While it's no surprise that Canada's westernmost province is home to stellar ski resorts, it's the unexpected adventures that are cause for pause.

These Treads are Trending

Cool kids are cruising on fat bikes in British Columbia — the hottest new adventure to hit the snow this season. Where to hop in the saddle? Whistler Olympic Park debuts the wide tires this winter along specially designated trails (adventurers who two-wheel it after 5 p.m. on Wednesdays can spin their wheels for just $5). In BC's Okanagan, enthusiasts can hit more than 15 kilometres (nine miles) of fat bike trails at SilverStar Mountain Resort during regular cross-country ski hours; this is just one excursion available with the resort's My1Pass, which features access to all-inclusive lift tickets for skiers and boarders, downhill rushes at the tube park, skating on the outdoor mountain pond and snowshoe and cross-country treks through forests of fir.;

Further east in BC's Kootenay Rockies, Kimberley Alpine Resort and sister mountain Fernie Alpine Resort have both joined the fat tire fleet. At each, mammoth tires and low gearing equal pedals in the snow that are easy to master, for both first-timers and seasoned cyclists. More steam? Kimberley promises a whopping 50 kilometres (31 miles) of designated and groomed trails for bikers of all skill levels.;

At Panorama Mountain Resort, further southeast near Invermere, keeners can gear up in the Lower Village's Nordic Centre, where Panorama's outdoor adventure crew will provide intel on where best to make tracks (the firmer the Nordic trails, the better). Finally, Whitewater Ski Resort near Nelson adds a twist to their fat bike fun with new multi-use trails that welcome two-wheelers alongside their furry four-legged friends.;

Bright Lights, Big Skiing

In BC's Okanagan, Big White Ski Resort doesn't call it a day when the sun sets. On the contrary; here, skiers and boarders are welcome to shred to their heart's content, all on the largest night skiing area in Western Canada. Every Tuesday through Saturday enthusiasts can board the Bullet Express and Plaza Chair (featuring a combined capacity of more than 5,000 people per hour) to explore terrain lit by bright lights. Bonus: these rides will deposit skiers and boarders on the longest vertical drop (596 metres or 1,955 feet) found on any North American night skiing area.

A ski or snowboard glide under the stars is what's in store at Kimberley Alpine Resort, where, when the moon is high, the natural landscape takes on an ethereal hue. Calm, crisp nights mean enthusiasts can navigate the terrain at a leisurely pace, while season-long Night Races and Rail Jams are sure to amp up the action and quicken the pulse. As added incentive, Kimberley boasts the longest night skiing run (approximately 2,500 metres or 8,202 feet) in North America.

Panorama's Delectable Hut-to-Hut Experience

While Panorama Mountain Resort is home to memorable downhill pursuits, equally delectable on-mountain experiences await within the destination's rustic cabin and huts, each built to resemble shelters that peppered the landscape during the fur trade era.

Mile 1 Hut, situated, appropriately, at the top of Mile One Lift, is a good place to start with its offering of gooey cheese fondue next to a blazing outdoor fire pit. Skiers and boarders can counteract their caloric intake with a leisurely ski or snowboard down Showoff run; if riding on a full stomach doesn't appeal, downloading via the chairlift is a ready option.

Set midway down Panorama's Rollercoaster run, Elkhorn Cabin is suited for a warming lunch, a la Swiss raclette (translation: guests will melt a cornucopia of cheese, vegetables and meat on their own personal grill). It's a tasty, albeit messy, bit of indulgence that rises to another level when served with local BC wines and craft beer.

For a final stop, the Summit Hut, at the top of Panorama Mountain, satisfies hungry crews with both quick mid-afternoon re-fuels (favourite nibbles include bratwurst and enormous home-baked cookies) and unhurried, private fondue parties. Enthusiasts will helicopter to Panorama's peak for the latter experience, which serves up a traditional cheese and chocolate menu, deliciously paired with BC vintages. Following a final toast, diners will clip in for a scenic ski down to the village or return to the base by helicopter, bellies full.

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