After 42 years on skis and more than 30 making turns for a living, Mike Douglas has laid tracks in more places than just about anyone else. As a mogul skier in the ’90s, he competed across Europe and North America. Skiing in movies, he travelled to more exotic locations. And now as a ski filmmaker, he continues to chase flakes around the world.
But when Mike thinks about the best place to ski, his mind always returns home to British Columbia. “The number one reason? It’s the most consistent place when it comes to snow,” he says. “But that wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t for the number two reason – the vastness and diversity of the mountains and terrain.”
More than five mountain ranges dominate the province. Each has its own weather, snowfall, geography and character. Starting in the west is the Coast Range. “The mountains are huge and they get lots of snow,” says Douglas.
“Whistler Blackcomb is the biggest resort and has the most varied terrain,” says Douglas, a Whistler resident for 23 years. “You have everything from glaciers to high alpine bowls, open groomers to burned forests.”
Next up is the Monashee Mountains. These rounded, interior snow peaks are home to Sun Peaks Resort, SilverStar Mountain Resort and Big White Ski Resort. Sunnier than the Coast Range, the Okanangan ski hills boast about light powder, tree skiing and family-friendly ambience. “They have a great vibe,” says Douglas, who spends Christmas at SilverStar with his family. “You can turn the kids loose, tell them you’ll see them at lunch, and not worry about them. But there’s still plenty of fun terrain to keep me interested.”
Move a little further east and the mountains rise up again, this time into the Selkirks. The most consistent snow makes the interior powder belt the heart of the helicopter and snowcat industry, and where you’ll find Revelstoke Mountain Resort, home to the longest vertical drop in North America. “I’ve never met a skier who got bored at Revy,” says Douglas. “You will get tired though; it’s steep and long.”
The Purcell Mountains own diversity. Near the U.S. border is Kimberley Alpine Resort, possibly B.C.’s sunniest ski hill. Its Bavarian-themed village, forested slopes and family-friendly size mimics the feel of the Okanagan resorts. An hour north, Panorama Mountain Resort feels like Colorado: dry snow, wicked groomers, a refined feel and long, long runs. And then there’s Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. “It’s raw, wild, a skier’s mountain,” says Douglas. “Every run is long, and there are all these little zones of terrain to explore.”
The final mountain range, before B.C. gives way to Alberta, is the Rocky Mountains. A quirk of geography lands Fernie Alpine Resort way more snow than the rest of the range. Full of gullies, ridges, bowls and chutes, the nine metres of fluff gives the alpine bowls and forested runs a playful feel.
From immaculate groomers to deep snow, huge terrain to thigh-crushing vertical, variety is what sets B.C. apart from everywhere else, says Douglas. “When I’m travelling and I tell someone I’m from B.C., they always say it’s their fantasy to ski here,” he says. “I can’t argue with them. It is a fantasy.”
Slopes for skiers of all levels
Whistler Blackcomb is two side-by-side mountains totalling 8,171 acres of skiable terrain, 16 alpine bowls, three glaciers, more than 200 marked runs, five terrain parks and one mile of vertical.
Link that terrain with 37 lifts, including the world record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, and you have an unrivalled ski and snowboard experience and a destination that tops every skier and snowboarder’s must-do list.
And while Whistler Blackcomb is a true skier and snowboarder’s dream come true, the huge, wide-open and varied terrain of these mountains is ideal for skiers of all levels including families, children and those who are new to the sport.
Whistler Blackcomb has dedicated Family Zones and Learning Areas on both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains to ensure every level of skier and rider has the best experience possible. For those looking to take their skiing and snowboarding experience to the next level, Whistler Heli-Skiing offers access to 432,000 acres of big mountain terrain that includes 173 glaciers and 475 runs. Whistler Heli-Skiing offers a variety of packages for everyone, from strong intermediates to seasoned experts.