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.
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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. whistlersportlegacies.com; skisilverstar.com
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. skikimberley.com; skifernie.com
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. PanoramaResort.com; skiwhitewater.com
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. bigwhite.com
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. skikimberley.com
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. PanoramaResort.com/mountain-hut-fondue